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Re: [existlist] Rorty and Marx in a postmodern world

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  • George Walton
    From Richard Shusterman s essay, Ethics and Aesthetics are One : To say that a postmodernist cannot generate a general or even personal ethic from his or her
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 2, 2005
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      From Richard Shusterman's essay, "Ethics and Aesthetics are One":

      "To say that a postmodernist cannot generate a general or even personal ethic from his or her specific functional role because we all collectively and individually inhabit a plurality of inadequated integrated roles is to say with Wittgenstein and Lyotard that we inhabit such a motley variety of language games and are shaped by so many forms of discourse that we can no longer say definitively who we are.....It is questionable, Rorty would argue, because it is not
      definitively there to be discovered but instead open to be made and shaped, and should therfore be shaped aesthetically. Moreover, according to Rorty not only is there no point in trying to penetrate our social roles to find a common human essense, which is not there, but even the idea of an underlying coherent indidvidual essense of particular personhood [one's own true self] is a myth, which Freud effectively exploded.....Rather than something unified and consistent emerging from an autonomous, stable, and rational core, the self is seen as 'centerless', a collection of 'quasi selves', the product of 'random assemblages of contingent and idiosyncratic needs',shaped and modified by 'a host of idiosyncratic, accidental episodes', transformed by distorted memories. For Rorty, this Feudian decentering, multiplication, and randonization of the self 'opened up new possibilites for the aesthetic life', as an ethic, for with no true self to discover and conform to the most promising models
      of moral reflection and sophistication, become 'self-creation' and 'self enlargement' rather than 'self-knowledge' and 'purification'"



      This observation collates two points I often try to impress upon people:

      that human identity is by and large an existential contraption we ceaselesly construct, deconstruct and reconstruct from the cradle to the grave. It is basically refabrications of a prefabricated self that was hard wired into our brains as children at any given cultural and historical and experiential intersection in time
      that human ethics revolves by and large around the interactions at these profoundly problematic intersections....interactions of all the prefabricated and then endless refabricated minds going about the business of devising rules of behavior so as to make social interaction less rather more dysfuntional

      But there is, it can be argued, a third factor that many postmodernist thinkers either overlook or play down: the role of political economy in the creation of both human identity and human moral values.

      In my view, you can take the "aesthetic self" perspective above to the point where it bears almost no resemblance whatsoever to the human condition as it's actually exprerienced by the overwhelming preponderance of folks who have ever lived and died. In other words, there are, in fact, crucial factors all of us share in common that are, in turn, fundamental to any legitimate [realistic] philosophical perspective on or appraisal of either human identity or human value judgments.

      These:

      we are, first and foremost, naked apes----the end result of millions of years of evolution on planet earth
      as such, we have fundamental biological needs that must be met [just as with any other species] or we perish: food, water, clothing and shelter
      we need a relatively stable environment in order to reproduce the species
      we need those willing [or conscripted] to defend us from enemies---internal and external

      To what extent, however, do many postmodernist thinkers take this materialist, naturalist context into account when they discuss things like values and authenticity and self? Human social interactions are always ultimately about politics, economics and power. They are about men and women agglomerating into communities in order to facilitate the very survival of the community itself. They are about those relatively few who are smarter or more aggressive or more resourceful [or luckier] being able to enforce a moral [and a legal] agenda that revolves around political and economic and military relationships that perpetuate their own best interests. And then passing this down to the next genaration that will constitute the new ruling class.

      The difficulty of course lies in figuring out how to understand human identity and human ethics as though from the combined perspectives of thnkers like Richard Rorty and Karl Marx. Where do the social/political and the personal/psychological variables come together so as facilitate the most coherent assessment of human interaction?

      George




      ---------------------------------
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    • Bob Keyes
      Comments Below.. Bob... ... From: George Walton [mailto:iambiguously@yahoo.com] Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2005 7:08 PM To: existlist@yahoogroups.com Subject:
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 3, 2005
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        Comments Below.. Bob...
        -----Original Message-----
        From: George Walton [mailto:iambiguously@...]
        Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2005 7:08 PM
        To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [existlist] Rorty and Marx in a postmodern world



        >From Richard Shusterman's essay, "Ethics and Aesthetics are One":

        "To say that a postmodernist cannot generate a general or even personal
        ethic from his or her specific functional role because we all collectively
        and individually inhabit a plurality of inadequated integrated roles is to
        say with Wittgenstein and Lyotard that we inhabit such a motley variety of
        language games and are shaped by so many forms of discourse that we can no
        longer say definitively who we are.....It is questionable, Rorty would
        argue, because it is not
        definitively there to be discovered but instead open to be made and
        shaped, and should therfore be shaped aesthetically. Moreover, according to
        Rorty not only is there no point in trying to penetrate our social roles to
        find a common human essense, which is not there, but even the idea of an
        underlying coherent indidvidual essense of particular personhood [one's own
        true self] is a myth, which Freud effectively exploded.....Rather than
        something unified and consistent emerging from an autonomous, stable, and
        rational core, the self is seen as 'centerless', a collection of 'quasi
        selves', the product of 'random assemblages of contingent and idiosyncratic
        needs',shaped and modified by 'a host of idiosyncratic, accidental
        episodes', transformed by distorted memories. For Rorty, this Feudian
        decentering, multiplication, and randonization of the self 'opened up new
        possibilites for the aesthetic life', as an ethic, for with no true self to
        discover and conform to the most promising models
        of moral reflection and sophistication, become 'self-creation' and 'self
        enlargement' rather than 'self-knowledge' and 'purification'"



        This observation collates two points I often try to impress upon people:

        that human identity is by and large an existential contraption we
        ceaselesly construct, deconstruct and reconstruct from the cradle to the
        grave. It is basically refabrications of a prefabricated self that was hard
        wired into our brains as children at any given cultural and historical and
        experiential intersection in time
        that human ethics revolves by and large around the interactions at
        these profoundly problematic intersections....interactions of all the
        prefabricated and then endless refabricated minds going about the business
        of devising rules of behavior so as to make social interaction less rather
        more dysfuntional

        But there is, it can be argued, a third factor that many postmodernist
        thinkers either overlook or play down: the role of political economy in the
        creation of both human identity and human moral values.



        In my view, you can take the "aesthetic self" perspective above to the
        point where it bears almost no resemblance whatsoever to the human condition
        as it's actually exprerienced by the overwhelming preponderance of folks who
        have ever lived and died. In other words, there are, in fact, crucial
        factors all of us share in common that are, in turn, fundamental to any
        legitimate [realistic] philosophical perspective on or appraisal of either
        human identity or human value judgments.

        These:

        we are, first and foremost, naked apes----the end result of millions of
        years of evolution on planet earth
        as such, we have fundamental biological needs that must be met [just as
        with any other species] or we perish: food, water, clothing and shelter
        we need a relatively stable environment in order to reproduce the
        species
        we need those willing [or conscripted] to defend us from
        enemies---internal and external

        To what extent, however, do many postmodernist thinkers take this
        materialist, naturalist context into account when they discuss things like
        values and authenticity and self? Human social interactions are always
        ultimately about politics, economics and power. They are about men and women
        agglomerating into communities in order to facilitate the very survival of
        the community itself. They are about those relatively few who are smarter or
        more aggressive or more resourceful [or luckier] being able to enforce a
        moral [and a legal] agenda that revolves around political and economic and
        military relationships that perpetuate their own best interests. And then
        passing this down to the next genaration that will constitute the new ruling
        class.

        The difficulty of course lies in figuring out how to understand human
        identity and human ethics as though from the combined perspectives of
        thnkers like Richard Rorty and Karl Marx. Where do the social/political and
        the personal/psychological variables come together so as facilitate the most
        coherent assessment of human interaction?



        [Bob Keyes] Nobody can Know, it is an evolutionary process and we all know
        how that works....
        HARD to Predict...(Assuming we can (span of 100K human years-after that we
        may be a new species))
        Good Post However...



        George




        ---------------------------------
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        Better first dates. More second dates. Yahoo! Personals

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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