"dialectic" and dialogue (was: Conference)
- Dear Thomas,
Yeah, I too have major problems with Fichte. Hegel addresses these
problems with his accounts of true infinity, the relation of Spirit
to Nature, and the I that is We, and We that is I.
As to "the real interactive elenchic interaction between two actual
interacting persons in dialogue": Plato is obviously a literary
artist, and Hegel is not. But Plato's depiction of dialectic is
ultimately just as abstract as Hegel's seems to be. Cf. the
Parmenides, etc. (Not to mention successors like Plotinus and
Proclus.) Hegel's dialectic seems to me to illuminate innumerable
"real interactions" in which I take part. That was, I think, a major
part of its purpose.
If on the other hand you want to go back literally to _Socrates_, who
didn't write anything.... Well, I can't argue with someone I haven't
met and who left nothing behind him for me to read. ;-)
It seems to me that Kierkegaard, Dewey, Habermas and Levinas all
hypostatize something ("subjectivity," the "actual person,"
"communicative interaction," the "face") that deserves to be
questioned. Is there such a thing in reality? What is "reality"? What
is "actuality"? That's where Plato and Hegel are more helpful.
As for Habermas's unilateral theorizing--this has a good deal to do (I
think) with his failure to recognize that Plato (in the Symposium) and
Hegel had said a lot about the relation between normativity and
"communication," which it might behoove him (Habermas) to respond to.
But Habermas reads Hegel as though he were Schelling ("philosophy of
identity"), and doesn't seem to read Plato at all.
On Jul 30, 2009, at 11:16 AM, Thomas Mether wrote:
> Hmmm, I've been reading Fichte lately. Maybe I have a Fichte
> infection when he has the ego posit the nonego which raises ethical
> questions for me. But I would still wonder if -- and I'm sort of
> taking a Deweyan-Kierkegaardian-Habermasian-Levinasian perspective
> here -- the dialog and dialectic in Hegel is not the real
> interactive elenchic dialectic between two actual interacting
> persons in dialogue that you find with Socrates.
> [I agree with Habermas until he unilaterally comes up with a
> normative account of communicative action -- was it developed via
> communicative action? Dewey, Kierkegaard and Levinas appear better
> tuned in to the fact that what is communication and discourse is
> itself soemthing not predefined but worked out and negotiated in
website: www.robertmwallace.com (Philosophical Mysticism; The God of
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- Hello Michael,
We are in considerable and substantive agreement, then. My analogy with an ashram was not firm and I don't think any following of a guru should be uncritical. There are types of centers where people gather once of twice a week. Sometimes have a longer residence. Other times an annual retreat. Yet they still have their ordinary lives to conduct. In terms of dialectic and dialogue (partly in reply to Bob), Gelukpa monks are trained to debate philosophical positions because it is the training together that sharpens the reasoning and analytic virtue to help with the insight aspect of meditation just as the samadhi practice helps with the clarity aspect of meditation. The Hesychasts also have debates on Athos and a study of the logical fallacies as intellectual vices that point to something deeper about character is actually similar to the Tibetan practice. In the Hesychast tradition and the Ishraqi tradition, these practices are part of an ethos within
which Aristotle's Posterior Analytics is read as a treatise in mythical theology on the perfection of the intellectual faculties. There is even a Buddhist reference to the work in this respect, namely, prajna parctice of insight meditation is perfection of dianoia while samadhi practice as the clarity aspect of meditation is perfection of the nous. And of course, I doubt Buddhism and Hesychasm are both wrong that sila practice or praxis (in both cases, practice of the moral virtues) can only be done midst the presence of real people in real interaction. And this is also part of the context for the debate, dialectic, insight, dianoetic training for one reason because the dianoetic part can run on as our inner self-justifier and gossiper. Part of the ancient exercise in philosophy, faithfully practiced by Cato the Elder and Cicero, for example, of the evening review breaks up this pathological (in the ancient sense) pandering to self that the dianoetic
part gets caught up in. Anyway, I also agree with you that some philosophers, in the real sense, don't need "credentials". So, it seems to me we are basically in agreement about much.
--- On Mon, 8/24/09, Goya <goya@...> wrote:
From: Goya <goya@...>
Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] "dialectic" and dialogue (was: Conference)
Date: Monday, August 24, 2009, 11:58 AM
> Well, Michael, why do you say that? More specifically, what do you think
> is the point or lesson for us modern philosophers of Hadot's book? And
> following that, what value and purpose was behind translating it in your
M.C. If I've devoted a large part of the last twenty years or so to the
translation and study of Hadot's works, it's obviously because I think
they're of very great importance indeed. Like Hadot, I believe philosophy
was a way of life in Antiquity, rather than a subject by means of which
professors can show how clever they are. As I've said elsewhere, I
believe, following Hadot that both Analytic and Continental philosophy
have largely abandoned the what was ancient philosophy's main goal: the
transformation of the student's mode of perception and thought, with a
view to transforming his or her mode of existence and thereby achieving
I don't believe, however, that this implies any kind of an ashram-like
lifestyle or uncritical attachment to a guru. Philosophy as a way of life
has been practiced throughout the centuries in a wide variety of social
and political circumstances, by emperors (Marcus Aurelius) and by slaves
(Epictetus). The kinds of spiritual exercises it employs have many
parallels in other traditions (Indian, Islamic, Taoist, Buddhist), and in
such current techniques as MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction). It's
entirely possible to live *in* the world, as a socially conscious and
active citizen, *and* practice philosophy as a way of life.
Much academic philosophy today is not philosophy, but talk about
philosophy, and a highly limited portion of philosophy at that. Much of it
has only incidental relevance to the way we live our lives and the
questions we face every day, but attempts to achieve respectability
through the use of pseudo-mathematical formulae and scientific-sounding
jargon. Like much else in the Western intellectual world today, university
philosophy has largely relegated itself to insignificance through its
parochial specialization and frequent arrogance (based on insecurity and
envy of the prestige and money of their hard-science colleagues). Its role
today is often that of dog-in-the-manger, angrily denouncing anything that
does not fit within its canons of what "real philosophy" should be,
governed, all too often, by an outdated, positivistic scientism more
appropriate to Newtonian physics than to recent scientific developments.
That's the way it seems to me, anyhow.
CNRS UPR 76
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