Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The CNN Insider: what CNN did not report

A CNN "Insider" page today failed to give any balanced view of the lies of their "source".

This was the "balanced" CNN web headline:
Group arrested not Christian or militia, insider says
By the CNN Wire Staff
March 30, 2010 9:35 a.m. EDT
which should remove any doubt that CNN is the garbage news of the web.

The Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia web page could not be clearer:
A well-armed citizenry is the best form of Homeland Security and can better deter crime, invasion, terrorism, and tyranny.
Of course, they do not say "better" than whom.  Your elected sheriff?  Your "paid" police chief? Our National Guard? The Coast Guard?  The Civilian Air Patrol? The NY Port Authority?  Protect us where?  In and around the Port of Los Angeles?  Are we not watching a "militia" at work breaking heads and terrorizing families in Teheran?  Is Hezbollah a fiction of the Southern Poverty Law Center?

Here is their previous "measured response" to CNN itself:

Americans want the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness restored and protected. We don't need to have every facet of our lives micromanaged down to the finest detail.

But there are people at every level of government who somehow think it is their divine right to interfere with, tax, regulate, and confiscate every single aspect of working Americans' lives. This is shameful, and it doesn't have to be this way.

But this is not the only issue causing the very pleasing and expected growth of pro-freedom militia groups. The threat of terrorism or disaster will always loom over our heads. Crime is a constant concern for many Americans. And while the threat of invasion seems at best a very distant, remote one, we would like to help keep it that way.

Lee Miracle (Weapon M), Coordinator
Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia
Are they talking about the NTSB? The FAA? The IRS? The EPA?  In what sense must the "pursuit of happiness" be "restored" ?  Machine guns for all?  Or just assault weapons for militias? 
Further on they state:
If you are a United States citizen (or have declared your intent to become such), who is capable of bearing arms, or supports the right to do so, then YOU ARE the militia
Which non-citizens do they imagine have the right to bear arms in America?  Those who "declare" their support?  Declared where and to whom?  Canadian tourists with hunting permits?

At every level of government? Are they thinking of the Kansas territory and the 2nd Amendment?

Do they propose to replace State police with militia? City police with militia? The FBI with militia?

How will state militias better serve our airports, train stations, ports, fuel depots, refineries? Would they replace the Secret Service?

Can any nutter be quoted as an "inside" source by CNN for world-wide consumption? I can see no difference between the Hutaree web site which I visited yesterday and the SE MI Milita site which I visited yesterday in any "Christian" or "militia" essentials.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jaspers and the animals

In his 1935 lectures printed as "Reason and Existenz", Jaspers contrasts the animal with the human.

Even at the time of the lectures, the concept of the organism in its environment was evolving (and offering hope to anti-Darwinians such as Heidegger, strangely enough.)

Today almost nothing that Jaspers says about animals in those lectures remains defensible.  While not as vulgar as Catholic Peter Geach in his treatment of "brutes" in Mental Acts, Jaspers fails to acknowledge any of the aspects of great apes, dolphins or elephants which now place them on a continuum with what had been seen as distinctively human: a minimal level of self-awareness, a minimal level of social learning, a minimal level of culture - and, in the case of the elephant, almost certainly grief.

What interests me is to see whether Jaspers' overall views of the person and a life with others could be revived and revised in a variant suitable for Alcoholics Anonymous.

By middle-age most of us have friends afflicted with alcohol addiction and among them likely one who has rejected AA for its requirement to acknowledge a higher power.  Jaspers thought is far more subtle than typical Christian-inspired theism and is free of the taint of Medard Boss and the Heideggerian "Daseinanalyse" movement.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jean-Pierre Leyvraz and La Phénoménologie de l'Experience

Over at philpapers.org I have started a forum thread on Jean-Pierre Leyvraz and his 1970 book,  "La Phénoménologie de l'Experience".

The book should have been called "Traité des niveaux des actes d'unité" or some such because it is a phenomenology only in a peculiarly Heideggarian way - indeed the book would not even make sense to a reader conversant with European philosophy since Descartes who had not read Heidegger on Kant and the "problem of metaphysics".

The only copy that I could locate in a university library in Minnesota was a copy which did not yet have all of its pages cut (if you are not familiar with uncut pages, look for something on the web on quarto, signatures and folio in book binding.)  This one volume shows no sign of a prior careful reader (no erasures in any margins of the many cut pages) but had been bound crudely in a hard-cover "wrapper" using binding tape - the tape is now dry and exposes the following on the back cover under a layer of adhesive:

The author, J-P Leyvraz,
read French at Glosgow and Durham 1947-49
doctorat e. l., 1960
assistant U Geneva 1959-61
held a Swiss bursary 1960-62
privat docent U Geneva 1961
visiting fellow at Yale 1964-66
This book, completed in March 1969, appears to have led to his being assistant prof in philo at UG in 1969 and he is listed elsewhere as promu in 1970.

The preface to the book states that the first chapters were written under the Swiss bursary and the last chapters while at Yale under a Ford Foundation grant.

However the publisher states that the Yale years were under the American Council of Learned Societies.  Perhaps it was both and perhaps his Yale years were sponsored by French Studies or comp lit and not philosophy: this it should be possible ot clarify in due course.

Leyvraz's book could be a paradigm case for what Harry Frankfurt has termed "bullsh*t".  Almost any page at random contains what were already "howlers" by 1969.  It bears a strong "parenté" with the claims of Dufrenne in his book on aesthetics that Heidegger has proven this or shown that: in Leyvraz book it is all presumed as the background for his treatment of natural kinds and imagination.

One appalling claim is that in his treatment of a "set" [ensemble] and the imagination is not a psychological treatment as he does not appeal to a "faculté de imagination". 

The book is peppered with "donc" as if "therefore" or "thus" inserted here and there constitute either justification, argument or "grounds" for his arbitrary assertions.

Leyvraz went on to embrace Wittgenstein (who became a new mode in France) which is utterly bizarre given the treatment of language in the "phenomenology of experience" - except that as a Catholic he can take some comfort.  If this seems unfair, be assured that the very introduction of the book promises us that the book leads us to the very soul (ipséité) that Heidegger denied his readers and the very experience of the divine that is the business of theologians.

The claim by Leyvraz that the "niveau physique" somehow includes the "niveau mathématique" while assuring us that the organism in the "niveau biologique" is not in the geometrized world - while never distinguishing between epistemology and ontology let alone presuppositions, facts, propositions, hypotheses and theories places his book firmly in the anti-rational anti-science movement of "thought" as an alternative to philosophy (note the book is not entitled "Philosophy of Experience".)

What interests me now is the relationship of Leyvraz to the career of Kevin Mulligan in Geneva and that to Pascal Engel in Paris - and the Leyvraz of the 1977 sojourn as a Visiting Professor at Vassar College.  Much of what I may learn will have to remain confidential - but a comparison of the career of Leyvraz to that of Dallas Willard to that of Antonio Rappo and others (selected informally based on published abstracts and titles) will help this initial survey of careers in philosophy and other university "thought" departments from the viewpoint of the sociology of education take its first tentative, intitial form independent of the prevailing prejudices of "free theory" versus "hard science".  It is already apparent that "translation" plays an important role in many of these academic careers (why academics in America would require -and fund - French and German translations of technical texts is itself a troubling matter in the nation of Jefferson, Franklin and Wm. James.)

Amusement: I learned today that some "ontologists" in American philosophy departments consider that the "ontology" for WWW semantic web frameworks amounts to "applied ontology" and they are available as experts.  I wonder if they will also offer their services to Departments of Dentistry or Astrophysics just as Heideggerians so often offer their services to Departments of Nursing in the name of "Daseinanalyse".  To think of the fate of those unemployed nominalists as SemWeb takes form ...

If you are aware of any reputable work in philosophy which credits the "phenomenology" of Leyvraz, please post a comment.

In both his treatment of "l'imaginaire" and in the fact that as author on the book's cover Leyvraz appears not as "Jean-Pierre" but as "J-P" there is a hint that he may have imagined his book to rank with J-P Sartre's "Etre et le Néant".  Not.  But it falls not too many notches below.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Democracy in the Gulf: Bush Vindicated?

Democracy in the gulf - would that be Iran or Iraq?

The first great triumph of the Dulles CIA had been the over-throw of the elected government in Iran and the installation of the Shah as autocrat  (Operation Ajax - at which time Bush Sr. was only an occasional CIA "business" asset with regards to Mexico and Cuba), a victory leading us to deal with the fundamentalist revolution which ensued (Carter's failure there led to Reagan and then the Bush league.)

The last great triumph of the Tenet CIA was simply a failure to be heard as Cheney was confidently nudging the US into a war in Iraq ( although no Iraqi or Iraqi agent had attacked the USA and no Al Qaeda terrorists were based there.)

No need to mention the "outing" of Valerie Plame, which will just as likely be "vindicated" if the USA ever invades Nigeria.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Richard Hughes and Martin Heidegger: A High Wind in Jamaica

In the year 1929 that "Vom Wesen des Grundes" appeared also appeared Richard Hughes' A High Wind in Jamaica.
Chapter 6 is the legendary account of Emily's self-discovery at about age 10: she is this Emily in this body and not another.  She climbs the rat-lines to the masthead and below the children play on that other "mortal coil" which Hughes' did not know not to have  "a huge coil of rope" (there is no "rope" on a ship - perhaps it was a 'hawser' to be used for towing a captive vessel.)

Hughes imaginative account may have been known to Lawrence Vogel in his discussion of a self which emerges in an "ethos".

Vogel's critical comments and observations on Heidegger and ethics gave rise to this variant: the village in the clearing, as a setting for a variant of Veza Canetti's Der Oger.
The old ladies are holding down a young girl who has offended a taboo: her life thereafter will be more circumscribed.  When the deed is done, her old Auntie reports back to the old men, the village elders, seated about in her husband's hut.
Henri Troyat repeats a tale that a Russian landowner had hanged in his courtyard a German tutor whom he suspected of having an affair with his wife.  This is the law of the home, the ethos.  Villages in hillsides the world over attest to its role in either inhibiting or incubating culture - or both.

It is reported that only 1.5 million children perished in the Holocaust of which Heidegger would not speak.  In a letter from Arendt, we hear how the remaining tens of thousands of Jews in Germany were no longer enough to matter to the direction which Europe would take (even the prospect of the annihilation of Israel seems to leave her unconcerned.)

In my image of the origin of the ethos I see the old ladies of the Macaque troupe gathered around the slain elder male or I see the distraught mother elephant standing over her fallen calf.  We cannot look to ourselves to see our the origin of the possibility of seeing the other as we have come to see ourselves or as we ought to come to see, if not ourself, then the others.

Betancourt, a prisoner, found inner strength that was not autochthonous even if we cannot name it and have no grounds to name it "inner".  Its beginnings were not inner, they were without and are lost in our pre-history and in our pre-species, if you will.

We indulge Richard Hughes with his attribution of amusing ontological considerations to young Emily in his fanciful tale.  But down below the children are calling to her and her own thoughts go to the problem of Margaret.

Dilthey, Weber, Marcel or Jaspers would be at home with Hughes tale - but I think not Heidegger, for it could not be cast as more than fantasy and surely not as great, memorable Dichtung.  It is of course a flawed tale which we might be tempted to correct, or even to cease reprinting: his particulars in his portrayal of the abduction of children may now offend the facts of both piracy and child abductions as we know them - and of history, class and race in Jamaica.

Of course, there is no need to make Heidegger a "bogey-man" of the east Java seas - in the "dum-mie" of Hughes' Caribbean tale we may even hear the "dym", "duk" and "dusha" of a Russian tale, a Viking tale - a scholar might advise us.  But where are the children in the Heidegger opera?  Were there a Heideggerian variant of the Hughes' tale, would the practice of navigation at sea be illumined (flat geocentric, practical but also theoretical in so many respects) by the practical Heideggerian, schooled in anti-theory, anti-science, anti-mathesis (see Walcott, Omeros) - the hiker carries no sextant.

Regardless, it may be worth remembering the other thoughtful work about the self and others being written in and around 1928 and also published in that brief, decisive period of 'Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics', 'Being and Time' and 'The Essence of Reasons'.  For anyone having been up in the air, it may be a matter of coming to ground.

Heidegger's Vom Wesen des Grundes

In 1949 Heidegger had the opportunity to a add a preface to the 3rd edition of his Vom Wesen des Grundes.  He took the occasion to close an additional preface as follows:
Wie wäre es, wenn die Besinnlichen begännen, auf diese seit zwei Jahrzehnten wartenede selbe Sache endlich denkend einzugehen?
When you hear that Heidegger was unapologetic, it can help to remember that twenty years earlier he had celebrated a Fest for Husserl in the company of Edith Stein with whom he had worked on the Husserl texts for inner time consciousness.  Stein had since perished in the Holocaust.
Let us turn to the ending of the book:
dem Dasein als Selbst das Erwachen der Antwort des Mitseins, im Mitsein mit dem es die Ichheit darangeben kann, um sich als eigenliches Selbst zu gewinnen.
It is difficult to read such a closing passage knowing that the Master had a chance to add a thoughtful rewording with less of Self and individual.  Consider this: his one case of collaboration also dates back to 1928 (the year he says gave us his Kant book and this book on "grounds" or "reasons") and in his editor's introduction to that book he suggests that Edith Stein had worked on it as a steno who had added the chapter and paragraph divisions to a "transcription".

Nothing in the closing of the Grounds book evokes You or We.  This is the author who ridiculed Schelling as being a mere "thinker" and not a "philosopher" - this is Heidegger who took the concept of "horizon" and "Eigenwelt" and reached his greatest depths of profundity in evoking the "world" and "transcendence".

So in some matters he was a thoughtless fool and ingrate.  But he also seems to suggest that this book has been denied its readers those past twenty years - and that it is what they have been waiting for (Heidegger is at the time not banned from publishing but banned from teaching.)  What grounds might we have for distrusting the insight of the Master?

One reassuring possibility for his concerned, thoughtful reader is that the mere Schrift of an Edith Stein on empathy and others could not be expected to have interested Heidegger - or yet another possibility is that he also repeatedly neglected to actually read the work of his former lover and later confidante, Hannah Arendt.

But there is a philosopher with whom he will not now be able to communicate, an author who converted to the Catholicism of his youth, with whom he worked closely, the trusted secretary of his own former Master - Edith Stein.

To turn Heidegger on himself: we need not ask for the "reason" that he makes no mention, exposes no regret, but we can be open to someone evoking the "ground" for this neglect.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Poet and astronomer (amateur) in response to Heidegger

Any amateur poet (unpublished in any book by third parties, itself a book devoted principally to poetry) who is also an amateur astronomer (whether by sundial, lunar records, binoculars, azimuth-mounted telescope or other telescope either solar or astral, reflector or refractor, planetary or nebular or spectrographic) may wish to reply to Herr Heidegger.
It has long been claimed that a geocentric viewpoint is of more value in navigation on the seas than a heliocentric viewpoint.  Heidegger was concerned more with hiking than with celestial navigation, but some matters can be addressed to his followers.
The heideggerian speech among those with a reverence for Being can be compared to communication among those making astronomical observations: this need involve no technology.  Somewhat north of the Mediterranean, the stars which are visible throughout the night travel about in the heavens as would indicate the thumb of the right-hand outstretched when facing north (what techno-trolls call "counter-clockwise") while some considerable distance south of that Sea, the stars visible all night have no central star about which they swing, but swing they do, as indicated by thumb of the outstretched left-hand when facing south.
Heidegger was very fond of notes left by ancients, so we can imagine how disconcerting [throwing them for a loop] that those to the north should read that only a few thousand years earlier, the stars of the northern summer sky swung about a major star such as that of the Lyre.
The structuralists should have been able to demonstrate that to the south lay left-handed languages and to the north lay right-handed languages.  The heideggerian could explain that the technology of the pack camel and the barge had led to commerce which had allowed these languages to be polluted and the origins lost.
Worse yet, the moon far south of the Mediterranean in the reverse of the moon far to the north: both see a "man in the moon" but for one the grey Mare are an eye, for the others a mouth.  This heresy is easily disposed of by condemning the idolatry of the lunar images and the technology of charcoal on parchment.
But surely we are not doomed to be unable to communicate the peculiar balancing of the crescent moon such that it face one way in the heat of summer in the north while it sets facing quite the other way far to the south and yet never sets in the east when south nor rises in the west when the observer is south.
Heidegger on the search for "grounds" rightly reminds us that all understanding and explanation occurs against a background and in a situation in which the wonder of the world makes itself available to itself and in which the friend is willing to listen or the wise one willing to speak, the better slaves permitted to pose questions at the end and the women content to quietly serve beer or mead or peppermint tea.

[Husserl began as a student of astronomy, whatever his reservations later about the epistemology of Galileo]

Marburg University clinic and the psychiatrists

Yes, I am back on the subject of Marburg: 2012 will be the centenary of Hermann Cohen leaving the university and still the tourist town will not have named a street for him (unlike Paul-Natorp in Cappel.)

The university further disgraced itself by the hiring it engaged in immediately after the war.  Perhaps you think I exaggerate?

Here is a quote from the Schilpp volume (1957, 1981) for Karl Jaspers (the later edition contains his comments on Heidegger.)  I will quote Kurt Kolle of Munich University (Psychiatry and Neurology) on page 457 (the later edition cleverly preserved pagination) in his criticism of a naive Jaspers:
[objections to Jaspers'] rigorous condemnation to any kind of eugenic measures; Jaspers denies that 'degeneration' is an 'inescapable process.'  The present writer believes that Jaspers does not sufficiently take into account the total rise of the population which carries with it the danger of the suppression of valuable minorities, the increase of inferiors and the gradual dying out of the white races
The entire paragraph is worth reading for the paragraph which follows on Jaaspers for anyone who has to deal with human beings.  Not treat, understand or attempt to heal or cure: deal.

The medical profession and especially the academic wing, embraced the National Socialist programme.  It had meant a real prospect for a social corrective in the forced sterilization of the unfit.  They had made a great deal of progress at Hadamar prior to the failure of the Wehrmacht to defeat the Slavs.

The consolation to the eugenic-minded practitioners: that the tiny German minority might yet survive in the face of the Slavic hordes and the yellow masses, the swarming brown-skinned inferiors.  You really must read in this the one great consolation they could take: that so many Slavs had been prevented from reproducing through the natural coial porcess of warfare.

You think that I exaggerate.  Surely I exaggerate.  They sat over their coffees or beers and talked about the outcome of the war: here they were, back at their research, and what would an objective assessment be - a scientific assessment of the outcome and of their research prospects and prospects to influence social policy.

We lament the failure to de-nazify eastern Germany and Austria: but there could not be the luxury of de-nazification of the psychiatrists because too careful screening would mean having to engage foreign-trained staff - and you know what that means.

While it was thought a service to philosophy to re-isse the expanded Schilpp volume with Jaspers view of Heidegger, the real value is in having preserved the essays by Kolle, Arendt and Ricoeur.  It is to be hoped that the volumes available as microfilm will be preserved as digital resources.

Documents with evidence concerning the beds being "freed" at the Marburg Anstalt - freed for use by slave labor at Stadtallendorf Nobel Dynamite - are archived here at the University of Minnesota in what had been the remnant of the German colony at Memphis, now 'ethnically polluted' but fortunately in one of the bastions of modestly cosmopolitan and liberal mid-west America.

Cuttlefish: the male cross-dresser and moral decadence

The male cuttlefish who reach the female disguised as a female suggest a view of knowledge and evolution which Paul Valéry might have enjoyed.

The female gives preference to his sperm pack (she has her choice of a few she has accepted.)

First, view his female camouflage as a mental representation of his which she perceives.

Second, consider that this camouflage first arose as an aspect of signalling among cuttlefish.

Third, consider that the hominid scientist views his display as a mechanism and her opting for his sperm pack as a response in which, once again, no perception and communication occurred at all.

Fourth: transpose to any long-standing debates about sense-data and physical objects or the existence of other minds and entertain the notion of theists that this skeptical trend has contributed to a moral relativism which reduces our prospects as a species.

The Dolphin and the Cuttlefish

The bottle-nose dolphin has dived and is searching about the ocean floor where it last dined on a cuttlefish.

Under its very snout is a swaying set of orange fronds, lightly speckled (a cuttlefish in camouflage.)

Thesis: the skin layers of the camouflaging cuttlefish constitute a mental representation.  Rationale:  cuttlefish moves over an area, perceives its dominant patterns and shapes and constructs its best representation of those patterns and shapes not in a higher neural level but in its outer skin ayers.  No homunculus is required: any dolphin or other predator will do.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Cat and its Body Image

The cat is up on the counter on the tube pillow when its hind legs slip off - she then uses her front paws to pull her hind legs up until its hind paws are again under its chin.  Nap resumes.  Something about this seems not quite right on the post-Cartesian account ...

Note: the in-door cat was staring for the longest time at the outdoor staircase - it cannot see the bottom of those outer stairs to the deck from its widow, but the orange intruder cat had fled in that direction.  Suddenly it flips its whole body a bit left - stares - and then flips back to staring at the head of the stairs ...

Note: the cat is "looking for" the mouse pointer where the cathode ray tube is fitted into its plastic case: the "mouse" disappeared in that direction ( to the other screen to the right) - it doesn't just try to get a claw into the gap - it tries to press its head up to the screen to peek in.

The cat is watching the spare DVD footage for some Antarctic (Cape Murdoe) expedition;  the spare film footage is of Weddell seals under the sea ice of the ice shelf.  The cat does not watch television, but it is watching these slow seals with interest - they leave the scene - return - they appear to perhaps be trapped ... is there no escape? Is that what the cat has noticed, that these large grey lumpen mice are trapped in the television screen?

But cat's do not imagine (I think I have that on Roger Scruton's authority.)

The new theism in philosophy is not so new

I have been driven to a careful re-reading of the work of Paul Ricoeur to try to make sense of his relationship to Karl Jaspers - not just as philosophers, but the inner tension between the thinking of Jaspers and the hermeneutics of Ricoeur.

Ricoeur's clear preference for an open interlocutor - an interlocutor worth mentioning - has been Heidegger.  This has also been the case in the quasi-herneneutical defense of tradition in the social and political thought of Charles Taylor.  Heidegger remains the touchstone of profundity.

What I am beginning to discern in Ricoeur is that the common thread in his philosophy is simply his scarcely disguised Protestant faith - ultimately we come back to teaching the gospels and culture whose principal touchstone is the Bible.  This is not unlike the views of moderate Egyptians.  It is very clear to me that in the case of Charles Taylor, it is his abiding Catholic faith that informs his views. But in Taylor's case a return to the gospels and the Bible would first require an ecumenical development where by the churches return to the teachings of the Church.  While many imagine that they see American Lutherans merging with Episcopalians and Anglicans returning to Rome, these are now religious denominations with little growth potential in the third world in non-Catholic nations.  The vision is simply implausible.  Even if Christian, Moslem and Jew all accept their one common God, it will remain to answer to the millions in a new China why that God should be thought of as intervening in human affairs, wrecking vengeance or heeding individual prayers.  I leave the case of Hindu India aside - likely to be the most populous nation over a long period of time.

The present interest in the good prospects for confident theism and a non-theism on the defensive seems to me to be no more than a temporary set-back for secular science.  Temporary might mean decades or longer. Ultimately the the attack on science in the guise of an attack on unbridled technical intrusions into social life, the natural world and personal life will have to give way: science is not technology.  Regardless of whether we can show social progress, we will not succeed in utterly stultifying advances in mathematics, space-time theories, micro-particle theories and cosmology - not to mention genetic/molecular biology and neurology.

Even if a new wave of Ludites prevent the development of nanotech within neurology and neuro-psychology, radical change in science will be difficult to postpone.

Part of the challenge is that we have only science history at the moment - we lack sufficiently advanced simulations.  One such simulation would be one in which the telescope would be developed before any helio-centric hypothesis or any experimental methodology.  At the moment we only have one history which we can consider with regard to the development of optics.  One fascinating case is that of the discovery of the polarization of light and the technical challenge of producing quality glass.  Whether the current generation of social simulation software is moving us anywhere near being able to simulate alternative sequences of "discovery" without assumptions of either progress or the domination of nature, I leave for comment.

The shift to a non-human-centric viewpoint may be inescapable in a multiple-species animal world.  Perhaps if humans had eliminated all but plant species before the emergence of science, we could hope to avoid the species-centric challenge.  But what - in a simulation - will prevent the discovery of the octopus eye and then the discovery that some species are sensitive to polarization of light?

It is very unclear to me that observations of lunar libration and nutation could prevent the emergence of helio-centrism.  The dogma that we were taught was theoretical equivalence against like data. This has been seriously undermined in the mathematical physics of space-time - undecidability between theories will not likely be explained as a feature of fundamental science determined from first principles (empirically equivalent space-time metrics which are determined by incompatible physical theories.)  No such candidates have appeared and none should be expected.  Science remains tied to confirmation and disconfirmation of hypotheses as much as grand simplifying theoretical syntheses.  Simulations may establish that any culture which allows debate of the causes of the peculiarities of our views of the crescent moon, is a culture where geo-centrism is doomed as much as a culture which permitted the long-term Gravity Probe B experiment on frame-twisting in GTR.

Theism is of course doomed by the eventual recognition of the fate of the sun.  If our species persists, it cannot forever live in denial of the fate of the planet.  Even the strongest suppression of science is not likely to sustain academically-respectable theism indefinitely (no doubt there are theists with an indefinite eschatology or no eschatology but it would seem that barring divine intervention, their theism evntually is doomed to irrelevancy.)

The new  theists repeatedly advise us that the secular world is doomed to recognize its own meaningless divergence from genuine human culture (religion-based, naturally).  This is a mere variant on the doctrine of our tiny world once astronomy had made clear the size of this galaxy and  the numbers of the galactic clusters.  Why our tiny insignificance -if accepted as such - should or could be rescued deux ex machina is not clear to me.  I cannot see that any reflective consideration that was not already presupposing a definite theology could take any solace in the announced fate of the secular world.  I cannot see how a defense of theism is reassuring to anyone who is not already a Catholic or a Protestant or of some other definite faith.  Perhaps a new theist can explain to us the leap to Methodist rather than Presbyterian -Sunni rather than Shiite.  Buddhists of course tend to be more confidant that the thoughtful theist will see the path.  But the new theist must feel something like immense alienation from this all-powerful or all-knowing or all-explaining or all-creating being or any combination of the preceding.  It is not clear to me how a god can be expected to understand your need to believe in his need to understand you - let alone your need to implicate him in human history, human evolution or the history of the present known cosmos.  Now that you have your god, what do you plan to do, to say, to legislate (we suspect the latter.)  Why the certainty the the theos is not amused by blasphemy.  Why the need for respect?  Persons need respect.  Why the need to be recognized by us?  One suspects a familiar anthropomorphism at work.  Call it our Western tradition.

Even if theists succeed in shifting the burden to atheists in matters of justification, I cannot see that considerations of evidence or warranted belief could sway non-theists in the long term.  Anyone not born into a pre-existing religious tradition would have precisley what basis for embracing Papal infallibility and virgin birth and the physical ascension of the Virgin - let alone the Mystic Marriage - or even the Trinity?  What non-theist from Kansas could be moved by argument to embrace the panoply of gods of later, degenerate, Taoism?  Will we hold new theist councils to re-visit all of the heresies of the first few hundred years of the CE?  Will we all revert to being Messianic Jews having once been restored to theism after lapsing as Baptists or Unitarians into non-theism?

The new theism in philosophy seems to me to be nothing so very new at all: it is a comfort to pre-existing belief or very little comfort at all.  The enthusiasm with which it has been greeted has very clear parallels: the argument that the sun could not be more than 5000 years old is at the head of that pack.  What is clearly irrational is how the theism which is being defended is strong enough to move anyone raised in a Jewish home to embrace Buddhism or anyone raised in a Catholic home to embrace Islam.  What I can understand is the comfort found by those who drifted away from the faith of their childhood and now feel nostalgia in their declining years.

We are repeatedly warned not to deny people hope.  But that hope can not be hope for unrestricted economic growth or unrestricted human populations or unrestricted consumption based on carbon fuels.  But those of us who hope to live to hear some significant advance in the account of dark matter and its role in the evolution of galaxies have a hope in which a minimalist theism has very little to offer.

It is of course possible that a non-theist will advance the one impregnable line of argument for theism, offer it up to the reading public, and then collapse back in defeat leaving the field of battle to theism triumphant.  Nothing in the history of science suggests that this is a reasonable expectation.  There is just not likely to be much new in any new theism.

The biggest comfort to theists is that most non-theists identify as agnostic and not as a-theists. These agnostics tend to come from familial backgrounds with religion - but not always.  If a Catholic theist philosopher brings you to theism, are you likely to become a Baptist?  Catholics find the new theism reassuring, Protestants find the new theism reassuring and in that there is nothing so very new.

Singer and Posner: African economies, ivory and the elephants

Both the slaughter of the African elephant and the Bluefin Tuna have direct ties to Japanese culture and the arguments for tradition (equally so for South Asia and the fate of rhinceros and sharks.)

The hermeneutical trend in theistic political philosophy has no clear reply when a tradition within a culture represents a threat to a mere non-human species.  Consider hermeneutically-oriented  political discourse in Africa or churches funding African missions: no tradition which places the hominids as "disclosing" Being with their speech, poetry, theatre or religion is going to have an easy time of balancing the economics requirements for funding faith-based universities in African countries with elephant herds (or at least with ivory stockpiles) and undermining the ivory trade.  Mutual respect for traditions here encounters imperatives: man-made species extinction ranks among our most immoral acts when viewed as one self-aware species among others (elephants are now known to be self-aware and appear to suffer grief reactions not unlike those of primates) - there is a clear imperative not to treat these species as only means to our ends but as ends in their own right.

The classic sophomoric issue would be posed as follows: choose to place funding in medical research which has a high probability of providing a medical treatment permitting your congenitally ill child to live significantly past age 18 - say to age 40-45 - or significantly improve the probability that we will succeed in preserving elephant populations and habitat.  Now flip the setting to where the ill child is that of an ivory poacher - a female child for whom he will have to provide a dowry.

Matters would only be worse if a significant human group, say a  group with Bushman tribes, were in a region dependent on ivory or in a region likely to be the final viable choice for an elephant reserve but clearly incompatible with the Bushman way of life.

Prior to the utter relativizing of all values to traditions, we might have had a prospect for a "Copernican" displacement of our species-centrism.  Open misanthropy aside, ( and such misanthropy, in my experience, is not as foreign to animal rights proponents as you might suppose ) we should be able to recognize that our populations now exceed what one might reasonably expect for our species in the natural environs of this planet.  This view, however, is not acceptable to most Catholic, Protestant or Islamic theologians.

If it is true that some million elephants (some number on that order) were slaughtered for ivory in a single decade in the late 20th Century and if in that same century, the elephant went from being a dominant species in its range to being a rare and endangered species often absence from its former range, then we could apply the "American Bison" precedent: allow extinction to proceed and then later reintroduce a subspecies or another species in tiny herds in tiny numbers and declare the outcome to have been inevitable.  A similar rule could be applied to Bluefin tuna, only with the prospect being of aquaculture, in which the tuna are fewer rather as are todays domestic cattle as the result of our selective breeding to suit our needs.  What we can argue is that this sequence is a well-understood economic transition and point to the thriving economies in the prairies states of the American Midwest.

Has this not already become the case with large elephant herds in Africa and large schools of giant tuna in the open ocean?

That the Japanese nation should not have entitlement to quality sushi that is not from their own domestic waters does not sit well with our acceptance that nations with vast petroleum resources are permitted to be major consumers of foreign petroleum resources.  How could the economics of sushi (presumed to be somehow central to Nihon-jin culture in a manner rather more significant than, say, whale-meat) - an economy embedded in tradition - be compared to petroleum?

The history of petroleum is interesting in this regard because of paraffin.  Whale oil lamps were smoky and smelly.  But we now know that the white waxy petroleum product was carcinogenic!  White paraffin, like translucent petroleum jelly, is one of the more fascinating transformations on the black ooze of rotting plant and animal matter that we politely refer to as crude oil.  That drawing up crude oil from pockets in underground shale is possibly the most disgusting practice in which the human beings have ever engaged in, is a perspective which must be left for future generations.  The building of cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix to draw down the water of the Colorado River could be viewed as technical miscalculations rather like permitting intense smog in flood-prone Los Angeles: these were technical problems.

The hermeneutical view in social science is thought to alert us to discourse which has been preverted by the view that there are technical problems that we face and not problems in our very understanding of our situation and the relations of power and domination.  At the moment this hermeneutical view is most common in America and in Europe, but imagine that it had arisen in parallel in Africa and in Japan: what hope would we have of addressing the future of elephant and tuna in the face of an over-populated Japan and an over-populated eastern and southern Africa?

One view is to trust the demographics of economic advance: the population growth will peak, enter decline and then we can resort to frozen DNA to reintroduce small populations to ensure the survival of these species.

Quite another view would suggest that the hominids have always been eliminating other species and that it is both historically and economically naive to protest the fate of North Atlantic cod or Bluefin tuna or orangs or elephants.  Consider the Asian Elephant.  The most often brutal "taming" of these animals has a clear parallel in our taming of horses, dogs and oxen.  Asian elephants will survive as domestic beasts of burden.

Given the fate of Neanderthal, what reason could be given for the protection of primates which are not robust enough to adapt to their changing environments?  The red fox and the common raccoon have no such problem in America.

There are of course distinct issues: elephant species versus elephant populations.  Perhaps here there could be a trade-off between nations: Borneo could pay Rwanda to protect gorillas as the price for the extinction of orang habitat and naturally occurring orang populations.  There appear to be precedents in law in the form of trading pollution credits.  Variant: no species lasts forever, our own has had but a brief run, so perhaps a case can be made that the older pachyderm species should make way for the newer hominid just as some reptilian marine carnivores gave way to major marine mammals.

Jaspers on magical medecine

Compared to the reading of Ricoeur by those looking for a re-birth of tradition in China, one can read comments of Jaspers in his letters:

1) the tradition in China was suppressed but does not need to be re-born; quite the contrary

2) Falun-Gong can be viewed as yet another perversion of the core of the teaching of the Dao as best can be reconstructed by hermeneutics.

3) The real political issue will be the extent access will be allowed to missionaries (yet again)

Heidegger and Ricoeur both lacked any scientific background.

notes to follow: Confucian revival and current PRC demographics; Buddhism in China; Islam west of the Han empire

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ad hominem: Dufrenne on Ingarden

1) Ingarden as having followed Husserl

2) Ingarden as a "rationalist" (read: "Cartesian")

[before expanding this post I am going to go through the deplorable 1957 article on Karl Jaspers by Paul Ricoeur as published in translation in the Schilpp collection "The Philosophy of Karl Jaspers" pp 611-642 when Ricoeur was at U. Strasbourg - it contains some nasty bits right from the first paragraph (it promises "personal questions" but presents "Critical Remarks" as an alternative to a futile opposition of "argument ... opposed to argument" - Ricoeur had not yet become 'hermeneutical' in his approach.  This is not some adolescent rant excused as the errors of the young as we might over-look his stay in Munich or his pamphleteering in the camp: this is at his second university appointment and only one step from the new Nanterre venture - this is the young philosopher attacking Jaspers: the verb "to flee" needs to be checked against the original as Jaspers had not "fled" to Basel and the whole compared to Ricoeur 1947, 1948 and 1954.  The Ricoeur paper in Schilpp is entitled "The Relation of Jaspers' Philosophy to Religion" but the title should be "... to Evangelical Protestantism" or, at the most generous, "... to Christian Religion".  The 1981 reprint exposes Jaspers on Heidegger in an expanded section interposed between pages 75 and 76 as an extended insert.]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Galileo and the philosophers: notes

Two philosophers with views of Galileo's achievement: Husserl and Lonergan.

An interesting story here is Koyré, first as student of Husserl and then as critical interlocutor.

Descartes on Galileo.

Celestial mechanics after 1805 (modernity) non-Euclidean geometry; statistical thermodynamics; Maxwell
Celestial mechanics after 1905 (Einstein et al)  Bohr,Hubble, cosmology, big bang, inflation, dark matter
Celestial mechanics after 2005 (Smolin et al) Gravity Probe B

Digital Documents in the Humanities: more notes to collate

At the time Northrop Frye's never re-edited Anatomy appeared, a new edition of Ingarden's The Literary Work of Art was nearing release: those releases in German in 1961 and 1965 could have been matched by revised editions of Anatomy.

More interesting to me at the moment is the other work of Ingarden available in English: "The Cognition of the Literary Work of Art".  It is now possible to imagine the construction of a collaborative digital edition of the first work with the variations, emendations, clarifications, alterations of the second work.

One might also imagine the worrisome prospects, recalling the censorship of the re-release of Copernicus' on Revolutions or a more effective means of banning books than had been available when the works of Descartes were placed on the index of prohibited reading. To some extent the prospects for web censors are limited by the widespread teaching of English and the availability of English translations - but this may be a transitory and very limited perspective.  Stop to consider Estonians neglecting Russian in favor of English and German as second languages and then imagine any situation such as that of the Fox News reports on Georgia in that recent war - or the reliance on digital "sources" in contrast to the reporting on the Nigerian civil war of the late 60's in pre-CNN news.  We very often require real documents: paid receipts for the coffins delivered to a morgue; payroll records for grave diggers.

But historians and records of interest to historians are perhaps a different case from literature.  There may still be worries.  Consider the great writers.

In a careful reading of Iris Murdoch's "The Sea, The Sea" some very telling flaws are evident - they seem to reflect the philosopher-novelist having drawn too much on her own life experiences.  In a careful reading of Simone de Beauvoir's "L'Invitée", an entire phrase reveals her limitations as a novelist in what was either a private joke with J-P Sartre or a very naive notion of how philosophical theses might find expression in a novel.  Place these two novels in a Digital Library for the Internet University and I can immediately imagine how to better ensure the stature of the two great thinker-writers with only the very slightest editorial improvements - which they surely would have made themselves in a re-edition with our hermeneutical advantages.

Digital Editions could, of course, be an aid: my digital views of "The Sea, The Sea" and "L'Invitée" could have each of the passages in question high-lighted as links to my marginalia.

It is said that marginalia in copies of Copernicus "Revolutions" would require an editor of Koestler's "The Sleepwalkers" or "The Watershed" to make corrections.  But "Darkness at Noon"?  Would we alter the closing lines?  Yes, in a translation we might suggest an alternative: translation by "A" is largely to be praised but the closing lines were rendered so much finer in translation by "B".  At this point the philosopher of literature is likely to point to the manuscript.

Enter the philosophical papers of Husserl.  During the war, the Husserl papers were scattered for safety and an unintended result was that his correspondence was lost to an Allied bombing raid.  Already his work must be considered in part the result of collaboration and his efforts to respond to criticism from students and followers: so I imagine a digital re-edition of Ideen I with the transcendental idealism corrected and a re-edition of the Log.U.'en with a full recognition of co-constitution and genesis.  These would constitute new works in a way in which the routine restoration of great paintings or the rebuilding of the tower in which Kopernik worked are recognized as that same work versus "a copy made from mostly the materials of the original."  This is not like sand-blasting the grime of a grey Paris or a grey Edinburgh leaving the cities somehow seeming unfamiliar to writers who returned years later.

The simple answer might seem to be this: maintain digital images of carefully archived volumes with an option to have a robotic "amanuensis" place the original under a web cam and leaf to a page in question such that a comparison be made on a split-screen or across displays or otherwise matched.  But his too is somewhat naive as often with each new printing (before photostatic reprints became common) one new error was introduced for every two or three errors corrected.  Some works by major poets since 1805 have no single standard edition - they changed continually from the first printing to the last.

In the case of the digital novel, the use of images, video and alternate passages, chapters and endings may make my list seem very naive in its turn.

In the case of papers delivered at conferences, they - rather like sermons, speeches, readings - will soon permit the comparison of the text with the audio and/or video record.

I have before me the famous text of Richard Hughes: at least one phrase cries out to be removed lest it be cited on internet blogs and calls made for the book not to be reprinted unless re-edited and in the process, abridged.

Some lengthy works which were poorly edited before first printing merit being abridged and their authors' case is improved in the process - the collation of blog posts need not be imagined in that regard ... I am thinking of Lev Shestov versus Susanne Langer.  Abridging the former would disguise his monomania, while abridging the latter can increase her accessibility and relevance for the non-philosopher or the philosopher with no interest in the local history of her subject.  But then we come to the digital Nietszche or worse - the digital Kierkegaard.

My own tiny digital contribution is to extract prose poetry from a novel - in my case, the Thames River from "The Heart of Darkness".  This seems harmless enough.  The digital advantage is that the extracted text can be "re-imposed" on the original and my additions and emendations exposed or elided.

Were it today, the 1960's students of Frye, like the students of Husserl in '39, readily could have released an emended digital version of the Anatomy to address the alternate standpoint of Ingarden on many points.

In the next decade, enterprising students of anglo philosophy made be moved to release digital versions of work such as Wollheim's Art and Its Objects with suitable high-lighting to indicate those places where critical analysis and conceptual analysis and linguistic analysis can not be clearly distinguished from phenomenological analyses  and reflection on variations - and to provide digital links to correlated analyses in the originals and in translations.  Others may embrace the digital extraction of "the argument" into a logical space, a polemical space and a rhetorical space exposing propositions, entailments, exaggerations, ad hominem, non sequitur and clever comic bits of wit - not to mention assigning Bayesian values to hypotheses earlier and then later in an opus and in the opera.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Annotations and digital resources: the "modernity" paper

I have located the paper "A Critique of Modernity: On Positivism, and Phenomenology" and have begun the task of preparing a text version suitable for a test run in a research browser with annotations, tagging and related options.

The text version is in a minimal HTML format as modernity.htm

Information about the sources is in the blog post on attacks on modernity.

This is an initial quote from the paper as it appeared in the one internet source available to me (2010-03)
Modernity has two main antecedents – positivism and phenomenology. Hermeneutical variations of modernity are rationalistic, empiricist, progressive, optimistic. I intend to show how it becomes ironic when normative political theory implicitly recognizes the antecedents of modernity while simultaneously invalidating modernist moves towards achieving solutions to problems created by modernity itself.
While you might think that such statements in the guise of a contribution to discussion in the social sciences only qualifies for derision under the Harry Frankfurt BS rubric, the author is both prolific and, if Google Books is any indicator, oft referenced if not quoted.

The author of that article, an assistant professor at Singapore's National University who states on his university home page (on this date) that he has been a Visiting Scholar both of Rand and Johns Hopkins, may mean by "modernity" some global effect which only arrived in Singapore after 1929.  I can give no meaning to "hermeutical variations of modernity" nor can I tell you from these statements what "it" may refer to in his "I intend to show how it becomes ironic" and so suppose we have an idiom such as "Isn't it ironic how..."

The problem faced in digital research is to firmly link these materials and the references to them.  PDF files at allacademic.com are not always available and the text files generated from PDF's by the Adobe reader are not reliably formatted.

In the following weeks I plan to explore the use of both markup techniques and programming languages in constructing a digital technique for documented assessment and evaluation of such "contributions" to social science in the modern - or at least most recent - digital manifestation of "publish or persish" with an eye to contrasting the needs for poetry in translation and canonical philosophic texts in translation.

The outcome of Google Books disputes and the acceptance of the ePUB format may affect the result of my efforts in the short term.

My initial bias is for Curl (as in http://www.curl.com/) with alternates in a Rebol (http://www.rebol.com/) wrapper for Web Kit and ObjectIcon.  Time permitting I will further assess both Oz and Seaside for generating Curl markup versus Oz for Tk (QTk.)

Hoover Institution and History: when are documents not historical documents?

The Hoover publications can be found on the web at Stanford; the Hoover Institute is at hoover.org.

I want to look at one publication, "War Through Children's Eyes" which bears the sub-title
The Soviet Occupation of Poland and the Deportations, 1939-1941

This is no simple matter: the crimes of the Soviets following their invasion of Poland rank among the most dastardly of the 20th Century as war-crimes and crimes against humanity.  Few instances of more gross and murderous disregard for the then Geneva Convention are on record for the past century.

So what could be the issue?  Only a few days ago I was challenging Marburg bloggers to address the documents concerning Marburg/Lahn which are here at the U. of Minnesota.

These Hoover 'documents' in this volume are presented by a foreward by Bruno Bettelheim in which he chooses to relativize the expectations of the arriving Soviets and the expectations of the Poles.  Bettelheim reminds me of the famous film by the deveopmental psychologist Gesell in which a naked boy is shown but during the course of his remarks and observations the boy's perverse penile erection is passed over without comment.  At the time of this publication, Bettelheim was not yet fully appreciated for the nature of his camp survivor claims (he was released in 1939 and NOT in 1945) and a defender of Arendt's distortions (she was only briefly interned in France before escaping.)

The book is composed of selected essays by children - compositions written once they had escaped to British-controlled Iran.  These are not letters home collected from camp survivors or witnesses to an event.  A composition written for school is not a diary and is not even a protocol of an interview for an on-going investigation.  Of particular interest would be to learn where and how and why so many children had heard and then repeated that "Jews and Communists" collaborated with the Soviets and not "Communists - some of whom were Jews - " and how it is that so many of the children had such clear recall that collaborators were Jews.  The reader who is not advised concerning hearsay, rumor and bias will be ill-prepared for this jarring "testimony".

As valuable as these essays by the children are, they are not historical documents. Many of the essays contain stereotypic hearsay in addition to their eye-witness accounts. Notably missing are children recounting what they did themselves to survive - whether to siblings or the less fortunate - or what their parents did - candid veracity often missing in survivor testimony - and confessed only in assured privacy and years later.

The association of this book with Bettelheim is regrettable as the essays contain stereotypic antisemitic reports with the children often repeating what they had heard about the Jews and the Soviets. These essays were written on demand and do not constitute historic documents but merely more eye-witness testimony and irretrievably muddled with hearsay - horrific and heart-wrenching - but not suitable for "selected" book form unedited and without a critical assessment.  The reader is left without a simple facsimile in which one might note erasures or corrections - although the book has many photographs.

These essays were deserving of being preserved - but not all that we preserve as research materials constitute historical documents nor does their collection constitute an "archival documentary".

The title of this book should have reflected that these were compositions by survivors - compositions written after the events.  The very distortions which were the mainstay of Molotov-era propaganda otherwise risk being repeated as if fro the mouths of child witnesses.  Stanford University would do a service to readers by making available on the web the compositions which were not selected and any document reflecting the instructions to the students by the teachers involved and whether the compositions were written in one sitting in a room or benefited from hearsay correction by parents.

What we know of human behavior in situations were many will perish is not reflected in these accounts.  In particular, no details of bullying in the traincars by victims against victims are reported although such matters are commonplace in these circumstances.  Photographs of boys in boots do not indicate the fate of the weaker boy from whom the boots had been stolen.  These are the sad realities and some of the many reasons that testimonials and photographs are not themselves part of an historical account no matter how much we me be tempted to use them as illustrations.

What occurred is so horrendous that a finer memorial to all victims is deserved and their memory was not well-served by Hoover Institute no matter how well-intentioned and even if ignorant of the personality and life of Bettelheim.

Having myself taught from Bettelheim's writings in college courses prior to 1981, I can only feel more anger than shame.  He ranks as a more serious fraud than Harry Stack Sullivan or Margaret Mead and his name mars any memorial to suffering inflicted upon children.

The reality of war, ethnic cleansing and genocide is too important for casual "history" to pass without objection.  To say nothing in opposition to this book is to countenance falsification of the past - a falsification however unintended in a story of a series of events which itself began with an immense lie.

At the very least, Stanford should release an edition with facsimilies, without selection and with a critical assessment to address both the issues raised here and elsewhere.

Lonergan's ad hominem

Bernard Lonergan's "Insight - A Study of Human Understanding" appeared in 1958, too late to benefit from the first printing of "Mental Acts" by P.T. Geach in 1957.  Geach and Austin are the two principal links of the British philosophical community to that of Munich, Gottingen and Freiburg associated with phenomenology.  The link should have been through Russell, Goedel, Cantor and Hilbert - but it was not - perhaps due to Russell being paralyzed by his sessions listening to Wittgenstein.  The irony is that Russell had Wittgenstein rather as Husserl had Heidegger: both of the latter were to  be the triumph of the "everyday" over mathesis.

In Husserl's case, he may have himself to blame (although without consulting manuscripts it is not possible to say what comes from his shorthand and what from his assistants and later editors).  Consider this, from the "Crisis" volume, Section 53:
"the essence of the incipient philosophy of this phenomenological-transcendental radicalism is that ... [its] beginning course [...] is necessarily one of experiencing and thinking in naïve self-evidence"
This is almost a sketch of Sartre at work after his ever so brief apprenticeship.

But then consider Lonergan's project - not on Intuition (Anschauung), but Insight (Einsicht).  Husserl repeatedly resorted to ad hominem in dismissing scholastic disputations à la Thomas in spite of his debt to Brentano.  Had Lonergan read these, one might understand his ready dismissal of Husserl regardless of Husserl's status with the mathematical community at Göttingen. Here is Lonergan's insight:
"In brief, phenomenology is a highly purified empiricism. and it did not take long for it to topple over into an existentialism that describes, not the abstract possibility of description, but men as they are."[p. 415]

There are fascinating threads in Lonergan and Husserl on the immanent and on judgment and on reason - but Lonergan's possible ignorance of the direction of Reinach and Ingarden make this difficult to pursue with much sympathy.  In this regard, Geach could be the corrective.  Both Geach and Husserl reject the destination reached by Hume and for very similar reasons.  But to do justice to Lonergan is so very difficult due to how clear it is that his ultimate concern is to preclude a heresy concerning "immanent" ( a concern that can also be seen in some conservative political insights, for example, in Voegelin), the rational within man in his likeness to the one true God and sin in the fallen world.

There is a parallel in Husserl's rhetoric concerning science and infinite approximations - in the Krisis Husserl's provides a caricature of Galileo in spite of his express intent:  Galileo is forced to serve his purposes contra Hume.  The Krisis has no mention of Hermann Weyl, whose Zeit, Raum u. Materie had already gone through 5 editions between 1918 and 1922 (Husserl left Göttingen in 1916 to assume Rickert's chair in Freiburg.)  Perhaps Husserl did not think he could assume familiarity with his mathematical background or the physics of the day - and it may have further impeded his pulling a definitive text together (see MacIntyre on Edith Stein's observations) - as it was, Erfahrung u. Urteil (Experience and Judgment) was pulled together by his students in the year after his death - but their work was cut short in 1939 and may even have been over-hasty.

A persistent worry is that Husserl's bogeyman of "empiricist psychology" is comparable to Charles Taylor's "behaviourist psychology" and in this regard Lonergan is of interest in his view of how one limited view can very naturally inspire its own equally limited inversion.  The key difference is that Husserl was a "foundationalist" with regard to Logic, Mathematics and Exact Philosophy (with regard to which, see the volume reassessing the work of the young Rudolph Carnap.)  Nothing in Husserl should undermine formal foundations for linguistics anymore than anything in Geach.  Both could provide a corrective to a naive empiricism at various points.  The deeper concern is revealed in Heidegger, where the price exacted is a disregard for linguistic niceties, for mere factual linguistic truths.

I have not looked through the latest re-edition of Geach Mental Acts (mine dates to 1971) to know if he removed his mentions of "the brutes" - or, in my reading, the "les abrutis".  Something similar can be read in Lonergan, who goes so far as to refer to "the very stupid".  Lonergan's target is "mere apprehension" and the tension with the pre-given of Husserl is quite immediate (no pun intended.)  I imagine a follower of Geach issuing a revised version with a chapter on the seeming insight of pigs, corvids, dolphins, elephants, octopuses, apes and perhaps even a parrot.  Pigs are the real challenge: it is hard to imagine anything more apt to offend in Rome than any consideration of whether something approximating "judgment" could evolve in a troupe of pigs in the wild.  But note how pigs in the wild are treated with so much more respect by their hunting adversaries ...

Missing in Husserl is a profitable confrontation with that other Thomas, Thomas Reid.  Had Reinach survived, we might have had just such a textual dialog or at least a dialectical tangle.

It often seems to me that Taylor takes some combination of Habermas-Gadamer to have provided a corrective to Heidegger - but Taylor's student readers find no repudiation of Heidegger - quite the opposite.  Heidegger remains there only to be pardoned as memory fades.  My corrective: that in November 1938 each Mesusah be restored to each preserved house in Marburg where Jews lived in 1927.  Taylor avoids these issues of Heidegger's abandonment of Husserl's concern with reason and judgment - all that he takes from Jaspers - or acknowledges - is the phrase "axial age".  Hans Jonas passes without mention, his sin being more difficult to pardon.

The attack on scientific psychology in Husserl is not based on "insight" - but the flanking attack on "modernity" and the "science of the Enlightenment" found in Taylor has its ground in Husserl's own attack on naturalism in science - not autobiographically, but in terms of its ready recognition by young readers.  Husserl's own remarks on technology serve that project ( Galileo's great practical contribution was to ensure the greatest range for artillery in war - perhaps one of the most immoral practices of warfare and yet now accepted as truly the most natural - his telescope was a great boon to artillery - only the calculus became more significant - and in our day, computing comes to us directly from naval gunnery.)

But at what price such insight?  It is not the "experience" of war to which we turn, but our "judgment" of what can be just in confrontations with utter violence and unbridled force.  Consider our ready use of "the brutes" in our practice of warfare - even preventive, in the use of rats and monkeys to clear minefields - pigs are too heavy and the loss of dogs too traumatic for their handlers.  And what of courage in the face of impending death on a battlefield bereft of fairness, respect or any consideration of a common humanity?

For Husserl prior to the loss of his son in war, the fundamental was undeniably mathematics.  Years later the entire project of mathesis is brought into question and the fundamental concern becomes the origin of possible and realized true and adequate judgments.  The usual ad hominem is that this transition occurs along a trail of failures where Husserl appears as something of a "last Mohican" as the frontier vanishes - vanishes not in the face of an endless reach of deforested lands, unmechanized farms and muddy towns, but in the face of impending total war.

To return to Husserl's project at a time when a concerted attack on science is underway - an attack proceeding a several fronts - an attack against which philosophers embracing substance dualism will provide no serious obstacle - an attack which while enshrining the soul is utterly inimical to insight, science, knowledge and fruitful debate regarding mind, respect and values.  The attack proceeds by an appeal to recall the maligned merits of a battered tradition.  It is best confronted with its own failure to engender science and to provide a defensible theory of experience and judgment in the light of that science.  The tradition which cannot allow that pigs have souls cannot be - must not be - the one we embrace.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Philosophical Anthropology and Dasein: the Octopus as immersion in being

Edith Stein never had a child (nor did Hannah Arendt.)  I like to think that if a Professor Stein had a daughter then she might have made some significant corrective to Heidegger and his followers.

I would like to think that the self first emerges in its relation with the nurturing presence.  There is no need to opt for the machinations of Melanie Klein.  I prefer the insight offered by Richard Hughes.

But if a philosphical anthropology is to escape a solipsistic epistemology and yet escape an ontology emptied of values there will still remain the problem of the octopus.

No philosophical anthropology can ignore biology anymore than it can ignore psychology or ethnology.

I am not concerned with octopus in relation to problem-solving as such - although the sight of the pacific giant in a small, empty tank at San Diego's SeaWorld (2003/4?) revealed in an instant how little they know about both "world" and life in the sea.

No the problem is that unlike even the crow, the octopus begins as an unmothered, untutored larva.

If in time the octopus evolves to have mirror self recognition such as that of crows, dolphins, apes, pigs and elephants, it will be truly unique in the known course of evolution (who will hold a mirror up to T. Rex?)

The eye of the octopus has the very glands that doom the female as she broods her eggs.

The eye of the octopus, the window into a universe undesigned.

But what world beheld by the eye of the cephalopod?  If the elephant is there-in-my-world as its own recognized self, what are we to make of the octopus?

Consider the self-less cat, the domestic feline*.  Pace Roger Scruton, I suggest that Felis silvestris catus lives in a world governed not by percepts but utterly impelled by imagination.  If to be is to be distinguished, then in the world of the cat, to move is to be imagined edible.

And in the world of the octopus?

An author deplores that we possess cats as pets.  Wrong.  These little cats of the Levant  domesticated us.

Some have asked us to learn to hear what it is that we fail to see.  The cat doesn't ask.

And the logos in relation to the octopus?

* my apologies to those 30 years ago who endured my tendentious exploration of "cats don't really see".

UNICODE accented vowels for Russian

I have just discovered that my posts to this blog are unable to display accented Russian as in displaying
Еврейская автономная область
Евре́йская автоно́мная о́бласть
which should have appeared with accents over one vowel per word as high-lighted below:
Еврейская автономная область
as an aid to pronounciation for foreigners and as disambiguation of some words for Russians themselves.

The editor for blogspot shows no sign that there will be a problem.

To test, be sure that your browser's encoding option is set to at least utf-8.

on Arendt: notes

In Goshgarian's translation of Courtine-Denamy's "Three Women in Dark Times" I find this astonishing statement concerning Arendt:
that her "career", which had, doubtless, been assured in advance in Germany, would be jeopardized until she managed to win recognition in her adopted land
If the author means by "career" that of a philosopher in Germany, does she mean the graduate of 1929 to whom Japsers would not accord full honours - when (according to Alasdair MacIntyre's research) Edith Stein had no hope of a position in 1919?  What had changed in that decade?  Where were these openings in the German university system for women as philosophers who were born Jews?  Or is this veiled irony?  I don't think so - it is merely naive when considering the author of a book on Rahel.

Arendt was ranked first out of the "Top Ten" by Camille Paglia (always able to get a reaction.)
Here was my irrate response (minus typos and omissions):
How could Ayn Rand have displaced someone of the stature of Susanne Langer? Are we  seriously to believe that Arendt is a more significant philosopher than Philippa Foot? Than Iris Murdoch? Does Rand out-rank Edith Stein? In what possible sense? Could Rand out-rank Simone Weil?
Of course Paglia was just trying to irritate with not mentioning Sontag in the top ten ... or my least favourite, Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka.

This was 2005 - no Judith Butler, no Judith Jarvis Thomson.

What remains sobering is to see the list of "chairs" and past notables at Collège de France - but then do the French really think of Madame Curie as Maria Skłodowska, a Pole born in Warsaw at a time when it was under the Russian empire?

Arendt was born in Königsberg - ask any man in the street what piece of Russia lies south-west along the Baltic from Lithuania ... it's like asking where is the Russian autonomous Jewish republic, or Еврейская автономная область - the Hebrew Autonomous Region - with its reported 1.2% ethnic Jews - might be.  If the French have forgotten Danzig, we would do well to forget the city of Kant.

Arendt: her master philosopher was her fate (and it is that which will place a seal on her reputation.)

The attacks on the Enlightment and "modernity": notes

I have posted a page over at modernity.aule-browser.com as part of an exploration of the requirements and desiderata for a useful research browser for the humanities. The APSA paper is available as a PDF.

The paper is made available at allacademic.com but was not the paper which first caught my attention: that paper was A Critique of Modernity: On Positivism, and Phenomenology and, like the paper posted, was presented at a recent Political Science convention in the USA. [I have since located that paper in PDF and posted a text version for analysis.

When I was staying in Marburg some years ago, I was struck by the pro-Palestinian sentiments of students studying in a German univeristy town where Heidegger had made his academic reputation and where there was as yet no sign for the many tourists of where one of the great synagogues of Europe had stood.  I was from leftist universities myself (U. Regina and L'UQAM) but at least at the former there was no shortage of left-wing New Yorkers who were at least raised as ethnic Jews and often presented themselves as such.  Montreal was a more complex case, with some French-speaking Moroccan Jews attending all the universities  but with deeply engrained anti-Semitism in the guise of "anti-English" and "anti-Westmount" or "anti-West Island" - all of which signified areas notably Jewish - as compared to Ukrainian Rosemount or Italian St. Léonard.  Montrealers are not at ease with their anit-semitic past and present or their language mania (banning the use of the French word "hangar" for exterior coal sheds which were a feature of Montreal's miles of old cold-water flats, the French word "stopper" from "Stop" signs, etc, etc.)  Montreal is also notable as the home of one of the most virulent attacks on the scientific worldview of the western world, that being the political philosophy and cultural history of Charles Taylor at McGill University.

There are other hotbeds of leftist rhetoric in smaller Canadian universities or some campuses of urban universities or province-wide universities and some small colleges - rather like Macalister College here in Minneapolis-St. Paul or the home campus of "philosopher" Angela Davis in California.  The usual rhetoric stems from sources such as Walter Benjamin, Adorno, Habermas and to a lesser extent, Gadamer and Derrida.  Simple irrationalism is always a ready import from Paris and invited speakers make for a real challenge to the comprehension of any English-speaking audience as I can attest when hearing some of the "Greats" of Paris at U de Mtl during my first year "in French" while already conversant with Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur, Habermas, Dilthey, Heideger and Taylor in English.

Taylor is a special case: I now see that his attack on "modernity" must be clearly distinguised from MacIntyre's defense of the Thomistic tradition.

First MacIntyre.  A.M. would have his reader believe that an entire tradition fell into neglect.  It remains for an historian to refute this: it was not in neglect among Jesuits teaching high school in Regina or Catholic philosphers teaching at the religious colleges affiliated with our two Saskatchewan universities.  There is no basis for the claim with regard to the school in Quebec City where the political luminaries of late 20th Century all studied or at Laval University.

Taylor's lines of argument comes out of a different background than those of MacIntyre and I am sure Taylor would not want this hermeneutical asoect to be over-looked. [...]

Many of us look at behaviorism and operationalism in social science and now think that the answer was to wait for the wave to pass: no head-long attack would be effective.  But this may not be the case in political commentary, where insight can pass for research.  This appears to be the case with the lasting adoration of Adorno if addresses to Political Science conferences as preserved at allacademic.com are any indication.

In the past, unpublished papers tended to vanish at retirement of the author (not the case with at least one of Taylor's own "grey" articles).  While conference papers are sometimes said to be "peer-reviewed" what is more often meant if "accepted for reading by a peer" or "reader invited by a peer".  Nothing else, presumably, could explain the papers which I am now reading.

In the on Rappa paper, the most distressly line might be
because it is the very nature of capitalism to deny the fullness of any aesthetic
that cannot be exploited to the Jewish for its pie-making possibilities.
but there is no way of knowing if he read that line to the audience at that conference.

Husserl's phenomenology and the unusual: notes

Trần Đức Thảo may be one of the more unusual philosophers to have studied Husserl prior to the publication of Sartre's "inspired" L'Être et le Néant « essai d'ontologie phénoménologique » in 1943.  In that year the Vietnamese philosopher completed his studies under Merleau-Ponty, but only after a visit to Leuven and some access to Husserl materials there (at the urging of M. M-P.)

Other unusual employments of phenomenology, such as a slight vogue in the theory of architecture, tend to come from readings of Heidegger and Heideggerians.

Another unusual use is that available at allacademic.com in a paper on Fanon.  That paper proposes that
[a]n existential reduction unites Husserl’s classical transcendental phenomenological reduction and Heidegger’s and Sartre’s emphasis on the more existential dimension of phenomenology
and that its application can serve to achieve "complete liberation", i.e., psychological freedom once violence has "won" physical freedom.  Correctives to Fanon are not likely to be effective, as his followers tend to be unconditional or "true" believers.  The most serious problem of course stems from the historical and anthropological evidence that slavery within the African continent was not based on "race" - where race is naively viewed as skin pigmentation or black/white - nor were empires and subjegation of peoples new to Africa prior to contact with Europeans.  The current view that all humankind either remained in or migrated from Africa undermines a good deal of Fanon's polemics and his rhetoric.  Consideration of subjugation of the non-believers by the followers of the one true prophet  also undermines his case.  Fanon is a touchstone for those who want a justification for violence to remedy systemic injustice - injustice sustained and advanced by the very structures linguistic and otherwise of a culture, a society, a religion, a language or a tradition.  These doctrines of the true nature of imperialism, colonialism, oppression, poverty, rape and genocide are likely imprevious to mere phenomenology of a Husserlian bent - whether realist or idealist, early or late.

Trần Đức Thảo is a more interesting case: linguistic research is indicating a close connection between the "pronominal" and the "copular" in the evolution of forms of the so-called "to-be" verb across very diverse languages -especially in terms of the "grammaticalization" of topic and aspect. [...]

Fanon and Trần Đức Thảo were both radicalized by their experiences with French abuses of power and gross injustice in time of war and the creation of pretexts for war.  Continued French chauvinism no doubt contributes to the appeal of radical formulations to French dissidents in France and dissidents within French post-colonial territories.  The case in French west Africa is rather more complicated as many of those tribes and nations have not addressed their past histories in slave trading and the continued toleration of slavery, indentured labor and ethnic subjugation - especially in Moslem nations.

Reconciliation, as in the case of Canada and its appalling history of abuses in church-based residential schools for aboriginal children may indicate that the first phase need not always be violent.  A recent conversation with a young artist from the Red Lake Minnesota reserve reminded me of how important that second phase will be: my one modest proposal for reappropriating aboriginal skies can be seen at remastr.aule-browser.com

Ethics and Selective Warfare: notes

The opening of the pre-emptive war with Iraq through the use of cruise missiles is a kind of warfare which I term "selective warfare".  The Polish response to Nazi and Soviet invasions was not selective in the sense which I intend - it my be termed "responsive warfare" in response to all-out attack, invasion, as opposed to sniping, border incursions, diplomatic insults and the like.  Slaughter by Nazi and Soviet forces and the doctrines animating both (Poles as "sub-humans" and Poles as "can never be trusted", respectively) bore out the need to defend the Polish people and their newly restored nation at almost all costs.

Iraq.  The direct victims of the Septenber 11 attacks on US soil number some 3000+ if one includes consideration of the health harm done to various rescuers and others during the attack and in the aftermath.  Some estimates of civilian casualties in the Iraq war place the number near 100,000 by early 2010.  If it is shown that the porous Iraq border with Syria and Saudi Arabia would allow the US to "bring the war on terror" to Iraq in a way in which sheer physical barriers had prevented a wide influx to Afghanistan (15 of the 19 attackers were from Saudi Arabia and none from a country neighboring Afghanistan), then it might be argued that a war against the Kufar had been brought onto Arab soil without justification.

If the majority of the attackers had been Iranian and their leader Persian, the war would have been fought on Iranian soil - and perhaps with UN-backing.  If the majority of the attackers had been Pakistani, then it would be reasonable to think that US forces would be today trying to establish democracy in the tribal lands of Pakistan.  But the majority were Saudi.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Charles Taylor on Science and Psychology: notes

In the "Human Agency and Language" collection of Charles Taylor's essays there is another inadequate index.  But there is one thing that is immediately noticeable: a few entries for Frege, many for Heidegger, for Wittgenstein - but not a single reference to Brentano, Husserl or Twardowski.

Kazimierz Twardowski, seven years younger than Edmund Husserl, also died in 1938. 

What is most striking - more so than the lack of any entries for Putnam or Searle - is the lack of any entry for Adolph Reinach.

During his years at McGill, Taylor was to be found in the department housing political science.  During my years attending lectures in both  that and the philosophy department, there was no shortage of hours spent on Frege, Cantor, Gödel - but not on the Munich School of phenomenology or the Göttingen school of phenomenology.  With Taylor, it all starts at Freiburg with Heidegger replacing Husserl in '28 and then the trusted Gadamer (reputed to be the true philosphical confidante of the master in his exclusive visits to the thinker's hillside cabin.)

There has been some effort to provide a corrective in the works of Claire Ortiz Hill  and in 1995 in  "The Cambridge Companion to Husserl".  Most recently, Alasdair MacIntyre, in 2006 in his short book on Edith Stein's years in academic philosophy has provided both an introduction  to Husserl and to Reinach.  MacIntyre also laments that Heidegger never troubled himself to learn Polish (remarkable given what Arendt was expecting from Heidegger on Logik.)  One can only imagine Heidegger raked over the coals in Polish by a living poet, Czesław Miłosz.

Also missing: Anton Marty and Stanisław Leśniewski (notable as a corrective to the influence of John Duns Scotus on Heidegger.)

What is important though is try to assess to what extent Husserl also turned against science.  Dorian Cairns makes a report of one clue that Husserl's attacks on physicalist and naturalist positions had evolved to a delight in anticipating failures in natural science.

At the time of Heidegger's absurd pronouncements on science, the NASA Gravity Probe B project was underway.  While plagued by unanticipated problems in sources of error, and perhaps damned by the anti-science philosophers as a mere "technical" achievement, it ranks with the most important experiments since Galileo's inclined planes.

At Heidegger's hut the concessions to technology are the hand water pump, the ax, skiis, door hinges, boots and even forks on the table.  There is no astrolabe, no sundial and not even a pre-telescope concession to astronomy.  Husserl, on the other hand, had begun in astronomy - and by the time he was being driven out of teaching in Freiburg, the centuries old Vatican astronomical observatory was moving to its new home at Castel Gandolfo.  It have have been there during summer meeting at the papal residence that Taylor first met Miłosz .

Whether Husserl eventually turned against natural science in bitterness or old age - or not at all - may be contested.  What is more evident is that Taylor has been more clearly in the anti-science camp with his large "wisdom" tomes on the self and the scular age.  This was not so obvious in his earlier essays and in his 1964 book on psychology, The Explanation of Behaviour, nor in his 1971 essay in Social Research.  Taylor's earlier work is on the inabilities of certain theoretical commitments to deliver adequate explanations and true understanding due to the naive views of the nature of knowledge and science in the training of psychologists and social scientists: they failed to understand that the objects of study were agents with a mental life and the actions of those agents given their values.  This could be corrected - and one such corrective can be found in a recent work by Colin McGinn, Mindsight.

But Taylor, in my view, stands closer to the Sartre of "the psychology of the imagination".  Sartre was never trained in phenomenology, instead he found what he was looking for in Heidegger (Raymond Aron referred Sartre to phenomenology - Merleauu-Ponty, on the other hand, would advice the Viet Kong philosopher  ___ to go to Leuven even during the war.)  Sartre's rhetorical ploy was that conceptual analysis would have to suffice because his readers were not familiar with phenomenology.  Taylor, on the other hand, entered the scene at a time when ...  de Beauvoir ntoed that Sartre seemed happiest writing what he did not yet understand - often clear in his obscure condescension to his "French" reader denied access to the Husserl archive - when it is clear that Sartre in "néantisation" was providing not phenomenology verifiable by another, but "a way of talking" about the visual field in perception, for example, which is not distrubed by whether it is adequate - it is enough that it "fits".  But phenomenology is not mere description of human experience in novel forms or cleverness about "néant" and hypostatization.  The latter is a serious problem facing certain views of intentionality in their account of mental life, mental contents and common referents which are not physical individuals validated as existing in space and time (for recent non-phenomemologist philosophers on intentionality see Roderick Chisholm "Perceiving: A Philosphical Study" and John Searle, Intentionality - An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind, and for an interesting parallel to MacIntyre, Peter Geach and Eliz. Anscombe; s/a Anscombe's Intention  paper of 1957)

Taylor's targets have too often been the easy targets: his reader could easily draw the conclusion that there was no stronger challenge (behaviorism was dominant in academic life and in practice - but not successful in the one and with very limited success in the other - and today finds more success in practice as a nuddled language-cognition variant of behaviorism.)

Both Taylor and MacIntyre embrace a kind of limited relativism - a view that a philosphical standpoint always involves presuppositions and arises within a tradition, whether that tradition is recognized, avowed or affirmed.  Comparing Taylor to Putnam or Searle is comparing him to philosophers who see nothing to fear in science and trends attributed by historians to "the enlightenment" and the "secular".  Comparing Taylor to MacIntyre in his "Whose Justice? Which Rationality? " - say in MacIntyre's treatment of Hume and Thomas Reid, there is the feeling of a philospher at work and not a lecturer (for that we have his realted Gifford Lectures.)

When Hegel was working on his logic, he was teaching the equivalent of high school students.  When Taylor was working on his philosphy of social science, he was very active in Canadian politics.  It is possible that Taylor sacrficed scholarship for his political commitments: it cannot be expected that many of his students would know that Heidegger/Gadamer/Habermas are only one train out of Freiburg -and that the train departed first from Göttingen where it had come up from Munich - or that Roman Ingarden had departed in quite another direction, as had Koyré.  MacIntyre, if he chooses, could provide that corrective in a book on realism and nominalism in the past century.

note: Thomas S. Kuhn nennt Koyrés Schriften als bedeutsam bei der Entstehung seines Hauptwerkes Die Struktur wissenschaftlicher Revolutionen.

A persisting curiosity: the absence of Murdoch in Taylor.

Academic lives to compare when Americans mock the British sense of "fair-play": Iris Murdoch at Oxford, Edith Stein at Göttingen (and Philippa Foot & Anscombe some 30+ years later; women and the "chairs" of Collège de France)

Note: John Haldane places Germain Grisez in this group along with John Finnis and Henry Veatch
Compare: three writers on Simone Weil: Iris Murdoch, Czesław Miłosz, Charles Taylor.

My assessment of the influence of Taylor: comparable to that of Northrop Frye on Margaret Atwood's "Surfacing".  My correctives to that: Martha Ostenso's "Wild Geese", my great-grandmother's stories of life along the North Saskatchewan River in the 1880's, my cousin in the 1980's urging native women out on the wind-swept tundra to use the porta-potty and her collecting stones to hold down the tent; Samuel Hearne making tea; my cousin's body being prepared by her brother for an arctic burial; that Glen Gould thought The Great North was somewhere just outside Fort William and Port Arthur; my great-great uncle returnign via Hudson's Bay.  Correctives to Taylor: taking seriously Oliver Sachs on the man who lost colour vision as might have Merleau-Ponty; abandoning the notion that what we need is another, older, tradition in order to escape scientism, physicalism, mechanism or naive materialism in a philosophical appreciation and assessment of current discoveries, achievements, theories and trends biology, neurology and linguistics.  Ditto for assessing, constraining and advocating for technologies in relation to societies, economies and environments.
The less than subtle, incessant and continual pleading for theism in recent western philosophy: only satire may do, as without their appeal to "tradition" they cannot choose between Jeshua, Mahomet or Bahá'u'lláh.
Corrective to Heidegger on science: Hermann Weyl

term: subjectity as used in relation to Heidegger's Hegel by Robert Sinnerbrink.