22-09-09

Widerlegung des Idealismus

"Das blosse, aber empirisch bestimmte, Bewusstsein meiner eigenen Daseins beweiset das Dasein der Gegenstände im Raum ausser mir." I. Kant, Kritik der Reinen Vernunft, Reklam, 1966, p. 304.

(amateuristic English translation below - but an official one won't be that hard to find!)


I mean: "Ha!" & "Do you believe it now?". Kidding aside, it is a bit of a coincidence I found this back. I didn't even mark the page when I first read it. But it's timely. Now I am finally developing a taste for a severe form of scepticism, I need the strongest of antidotes in order not to loose myself (and maybe yourselves) in mysticism, or, & worse, relativism.

(The reason, by the way, that I didn't mark the page is because my younger me did not appreciate yet that everything else comes first and only then comes your self. It is not the strongest juvenile intuition to relativize; let alone to relativize one's self. I have to be honest here, and add to this rather poetical reason this prosaic matter of fact: I don't buy the proof the great man gives of this theorem. I simply don't see a sustainable sense in all this time-space stuff; it's of a naïve physicalism that got ad nauseam repetition in the 20th century.)

So with this 'between brackets' out of the way I can link the truth of the statement in with a more proper basis for it. A basis that leaves much more room for scepticism & the like than an overly realist physical interpretation of the above - in a sense it is a closure of some sort to what I've written here to date. It's a closure of the type which fixes one point for sure and thereby leaves the rest of the field as open as possible, as open as I intuitively think it is (& not just 'is' but 'has to be', precisely because of the point that is fiwed).

It's as remarked of Carnap here before (click the tag 'Carnap', then take the 1 entry that has been written before this entry): in order to have a psychology of self, one is to start with the psychology of others (yes!, behaviorism and all that). Where I don't know about time and space, and all of those other handy notions for the analytically minded, I do know it's simply inconceivable to talk of myself without first witnessing, and witnessing the talking, of others that are definitely not myself. More extremely: it's inconceivable to imagine talking without first witnessing someone else talking to yet another someone else (even if the latter someone else, on reflection, turns out to be yourself). Let me venture this: the existence of others (implying other things, by a very flexible standard of thing-ness) is a synthetic a priori, whether analytically minded dominant cultures like that or not (the basis of any purely rational systems of thought are, indeed, necessarily arbitrary or, with another word, mystical).

So that's my programme: find a reason to deprogram the many religious and quasi-religious systems of convictions about many minute details and replace it with fuzzy, but absolutely certain, foundations; then establish on this foundation a morality that only assumes that it is good to try to further the firmness, universality and extent of that foundation (hence Habermas, for instance; hence, Darwinian treatment of ideas with open-ended evolution); and finally, allow the life to be lived, in matters of flesh as well as in matters of thought. Freely, only constrained by the integrity, physical as well as mental, of others (and consequently of ourselves). Hence Bergson's spirit - & enter Humean moral relativism with solid unshakeable foundations.

If I only had the time to treat of it all without having to hurry and blabber and quite probably making an utter fool of myself in some isolated statements ;-(


"The mere, but still empirically given, awareness of my own existence proves the existence of things in the space outside of me."


Whilst writing this I was listening to Cosey Fanni Tutti, Time To Tell

21:53 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: kant, self, universals, convergence, decadence |  Facebook |

27-06-09

Too much pressure

"(..)

Too much pressure, my life's so hard
Too much pressure, and all them certain kind of people
Too much pressure, them having it easy
Too much pressure, them having it easy
Too much pressure, them sail through life
Too much pressure, them have no joy
Too much pressure, them have no joy
It's too much pressure, it's too much pressure

This pressure got to stop
This pressure got to stop
This pressure got to stop
It's got to stop, it's got to stop....

(..)"

The Selecter, downloadable from iTunes & whatever.


Well, something to kill the time (mine & yours). Still, good lyrics, great music.

Pressure has always been predominant; struggle for life and all that. Heaven & hell, & the risk of eternal damnation. But it has transformed, & is transforming, no doubt.

Let's start with the former. In times we know of history lessons, there clearly was the phenomenon of the happy few that had time on hand; in which they were tormented only by their own, to some extent at least, chosen targets. I'm not speaking here of the rich and famous, of the powerful and rich. Wealth, fame & power are the sources of pressure; pressure to achieve, to a very great extent, goals set by others, or by a general (e.g. sociological) context. I'm speaking of the happy few intellectuals which - either through favourable inheritance or through selection on a basis of intellectual or physical ability - wound up having time that - from the point of view of immediate utility in the framework of the then current society - was unaccounted for.

This was literally unchallenged time, free from challenges, un-hectic & detached. The people having it had a lot of it but there were very few people that had any of it. Not the rich, wealthy & powerful as all of them were (and are) under constant pressure to conform to the many demands of their status and the continuation of it, not only for their lifetime but also across generations (of kindred blood or spirit). Those that I've quoted here are mostly of that specific class of the happy few.

The happy irony - and proof of the unavoidability of intellectual & societal progress - is that this class of happy few (from gladiators over clergy to academics) are the by-product of numerous status quo's, numerous regimes. Necessary by-products, which are unavoidably created. Because the rich, famous & powerful needed the rewarding mechanism of inheritance to ensure their continued service to hte status quo by the promise of, at least, riches to their offsoring. Also because any regime needs some selection of the intellectually & physically best in case some external challenge is to be defended against. Once selected they will mainly be idle, since in the status quo the challenges will be exceptional. Lest you think I forgot the irony, I didn't, really - the irony is that this necessary by-product of the status quo invariably generates the ideas around which the status quo generating these 'idle' people will be overturned.

(Oh, come on: if you want your irony in one-liners - Go somewhere else!)

This diagnosis of 'idleness', or lack of pressure, is probably accurate over vast times from the first civilizations until recently. Until the first fin de siècle that was called the 'fin de siècle'. Only then (examples are Wilde, Proust - 'I have to quote Proust here, one of these weeks!') did this type of idleness become assertive; no longer constant in its defense against charges of 'decadence' but claiming decadence as: 'thé way to be'. Not that there weren't precursors, Montaigne was one and there were others, but the archetype was more that of Darwin (& there's nothing wrong with him, he just did not claim that the type of idleness he had was a good thing, in general). Anyways, it is no co-incidence that the timing of assertive idleness (and laziness) co-incides with growing industrialization & urbanization. Both these latter not only generated more & more people with some idle time; they also colluded in bringing idle people together in ways that would exponentially increase the generation of destabilizing ideas - & to the extent that modern society, modern regimes are inherently instable. In some of the more fortunate cases this instability is even guaranteed by a constitution.

This transformation has been a good thing but has not remain unchallenged - & far from it, modern history is the history of challenging the democratization of idleness. Even the mechanism of creating and sustaining idle elites has been put to work in a constant struggle against democratization of idleness. 'Conservative intellectuals', & its specific pinnacle symbol of think-tanks, have emerged & are, as of very recently, the dominant claim to intellectualism; elitist intellectualism with the unstated goal of reserving idleness for a happy few & a, sometimes even explicitly stated, framework of restraining the instability that's brought by new ideas - decadence soon became a pejorative term again.

As it proved impossible to contain the increase of free time (although, of late, this is again something that's attempted afresh - cfr. pushing up the retirement age); their struggle has been to contain the freedom, the 'idleness', of people to use free time. This is done by putting pressure on people's direct utility for society (a.o. a pressure to procure more expensive or compulsively time consuming habits during one's free time). This is also done by creating a societal context in which free time needs to be 'spent' by ever increasing demands for the free time to be supercharged with events and other trophies and symbols of it being 'well spent'.

The current balance is one in which the happy few are an unhappy many. Many of us have free time but almost none of us have it in such abundance as to allow us to be spening it idly in pursuit of our own useless, decadent goals. This has checked - & is constantly checking - the generation of new ideas, which is a pity. The fight to fight - against the consensus that the current elite has built to saveguard the prosperity of its offspring and other heirs - is the fight to claim the free time without having to be accounting for it to anyone or anything.

The fight to fight is the fight for unashamed decadence. I kid you not.

An innocent quote, a complex thought. I apologize for any incoherence. I also am a lot under a lot of pressure; & I don't have the freedom to work these things out to a satisfactory level of perfection.


Whilst writing this I was most appropriately listening to New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble, "Live in Paris" & The Selecter, "Greatest Hits".

17:28 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: learning, pop culture, decadence, optimism, competition |  Facebook |

13-12-08

The Right To Be Lazy

"Proletarians, brutalized by the dogma of work, listen to the voice of these philosophers, which has been concealed from you with jealous care: A citizen who gives his labor for money degrades himself to the rank of slaves, he commits a crime which deserves years of imprisonment." Paul Lafargue, The Right To Be Lazy, 1883.

(Translation as per http://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/index....)


There you have it: you think you have an original idea just to find out it's antedated with a mere 150 years; by a rather obscure pamphlet-writer of rather more than less blackandwhitery, no less. The vice of modesty may still have its virtuous moment ;-)

He is right of course, for the same reasons as I am right: neither you nor I whatever our origin & whatever our talents, are really anything more than the instrument of an upper class when we sell ourselves to further the goal of another. & we are even less than that when the sale is made to further the goal of an anonymous organization - never mind whether of the so called beneficial kind. The idea of the 'duty to work' is however proving to be imune to all reasoning. There are always new people grouped in new groups that gain so much from it that they discover fresh ways to convince all of the rest of us that the 'right to work' is the last blessed thing surviving the deaths of all Gods. For a long time now in the West we take comfort in the fact that we can't be slaves because a. the people we work for can't starve us to death when we refuse to a complete surrender & b. we are increasingly working with our brains.

The first assumption is wrong because every instance we claim more freedom we get naught more than a pittance of it; to find not much later that 'the economic crisis' is on its way threatening this beautiful right to work. The voices of the reasonable soon after emerge to convince us of the fact that we should not press such rights but give up large portions of our little bit of freedom if we don't want the right to become just a far-fetched ideal. No physical whips but constant economic terror: if there is such a thing as a mastermind in this system, it surely knows that the threat of some loss is sufficient to whip us into 'correct' behaviour.

Never will a right be more like a duty as in the case of the right to work. And whilst it is a fact that we tend to sell our brains rather than our bodies as time goes on, what is better: to be encarcelated or to be brainwashed? But this quoting fool is sounding more and more like he's rambling as much, if not more, than that quoted fool - Let me move on to ...

He is wrong of course because like all of them drawing in black-and-white only, he is wanting to make us into something that is changed according to what he believes to be what we ought to be. Idiotically presupposing that we can make abstraction from what presently is our reality to make it easier on him to run, on our behalf, after the abstraction he favoured. An abstraction that suited his instincts, his wealth as well as his specific social network. Such is the way of idealists. They're optimists, but only at our expense and when they despair they do so based on what they see us lacking in what they deem to be important to us.

So maybe I'm still original in believing you can be right in these matters without at a same time being wrong. We needn't prescribe work nor prescribe non-work - just like we mustn't prescribe non-consumption nor decry consumption. The "right to be lazy" should not in its turn become a new duty of a new church condemning the non-lazy. There is time, we work less than in Lafargue's time. More importantly: there is time, more & more of us find employment in things that can't rightly be called 'work' even if those so employing themselves persist in the convention of calling it 'work'. This is possible only because the free markets allow to exchange entertainment and ideas, trading talent for talent. The machines were welcome and they were necessary - but, contra Lafargue, they are not sufficient. To liberate us from work we need a market, a place where we can come with the result of our creative, talented laziness and get the benefit of some other talented, creative laziness. Only this free exchange will be sufficient to liberate us from the necessity to work.

The problem then is this from where we stand today: how do we divorce free market from capitalism when they seem so inextricably linked for ages? The one good & the other bad, their separation is essential to set human beings free to do whatever the hell they feel like - even work, since no God or Organization can still forbid it. Free - free to compete in what they themselves believe to be their strength & pleasure.

A question at the end. Be it as it may. I have no answer yet. But not to worry: there is time and better the irreversible evolution to a free market with less compulsion to work than a revolution imposing what is to be traded with an essential compulsion to work, however small it may be.


Whilst writing this I was listening to Evard Grieg, Lyric Pieces as was perfomed by Mikhail Plethnev (with the insurmountable "March of the Trolls").

 

19:29 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: lafargue, optimism, decadence, competition, form-content |  Facebook |