Sunday, December 5, 2021

Summary: Philosophical Fragments - chapter 1:

A: The Socratic starting point 

Kierkegaard begins chapter 1 of his Philosophical Fragments with the Socratic. In order to be able to build a bliss on something, one must know what it is, and here Climacus begins by addressing Menon's question: "To what extent can the truth be learned?" Together, Socrates and Menon come to the conclusion that a man cannot seek what he knows when he already knows, nor can he seek what he does not know because he does not know what to look for. Socrates' solution to this paradox is that all knowledge is merely genetic change. Since the soul is immortal and has experienced everything an infinite number of times, man has the truth in him, and it is then the task to rediscover this knowledge through dialectical interaction between two people.

In this way, there is no crucial problem for us in acquiring the truth, for it is found in ourselves. We thus have the ability or condition to find the truth in ourselves and are thus not dependent on other bodies that must teach us the truth or the virtue, eg a teacher. So there is no fundamental problem in the acquisition of the truth, "which I had from the beginning without knowing it."

It has, according to Climacus, a consequence at the moment in time, which was the starting point for the study. "Socratically speaking, every Starting Point of Time eo ipso is a Random, a Disappearing, an Occasion;" The moment therefore has no meaning, because as soon as I discover that I have always known it, it becomes hidden in eternity. From the point of view of eternity, the moment is not crucial. So nothing new has happened. I just remembered what has always been in me. The Socratic is constantly moving in the 'immanent' world. No attempt is made to give an explanation of life by something coming from outside, eg God. Man is considered to be the most important thing in the acquisition of knowledge. Therein lies a fundamentally optimistic view of cognition. There is no truth that can not be understood according to thought project A.

The relationship between student and teacher also has a meaning, as the teacher provides an opportunity and acts as a midwife. The teacher does not 'give' the truth, but helps to remove the human obstacles that may exist to regenerate. The teacher thus becomes an occasion.

The entire book Philosophical Frgaments starts on the front page with the question of whether a historical starting point can be given to an eternal consciousness. Based on his presentation of A, Climacus' conclusion is that Socratically thought, then the answer is no. The starting point of time is not important, but rather just random, vanishing, yes just an occasion. For the immortal soul already knows the truth. Since the teacher is not important either, the time at which the teacher helped the learner to cognition is equally unimportant. The learner is himself divine and has only for a short period forgotten the truth. Everything points to the conclusion that time is not important. Thus, people can not, socially speaking, build eternal bliss on a historical knowledge (cf. the second part of the question on the front page of Philosophical Fragments).

B: The Christian starting point 

Now Climacus begins to illuminate an alternative to the Socratic by examining whether the moment in time can have decisive significance. In contrast to the Socratic "... the seeker must not until the moment have had the truth, not even in the form of ignorance," for the moment to have decisive significance. But that is an outrage. Man is in a state 'outside' the truth and is not even able to recognize the truth. There is thus a boundary between the known and the unknown, which man can not cross. 

So far in the analysis, Climacus begins to put designations on the various concepts he operates with. The terminology makes it clear that project B is the Christian, but hypothetically could be something else. The Teacher, who is called the God, becomes the reason why man becomes aware that he is in the untruth: "What the Teacher can then cause him to remember is that he is the Untruth.", And that he is thus excluded from the truth. The teacher, or God, has in the creation of every human being given it the condition, but man has lost it. The condition is the ability to understand the truth. God has to bestow the learning condition before man is even able to understand the truth. In fact, it is the case that man "... himself has wasted and wastes the Condition" to understand the truth, which Climacus calls sin. Sin is to be understood here more as unwillingness and defiance of God in one's existence, than as concrete actions. That man himself is guilty of being in sin is an insult and indignation, which is a stumbling block for man. It is not nice to become aware of one's own guilt ; the consciousness of sin exposes the freedom of man. 

Climacus continues to introduce recognizable dogmatic concepts. God thus saves man from unfreedom by giving man the condition and redeems the one who has trapped himself by wasting the condition and keeping himself in the untruth and reconciling by removing the anger that man had deserved. The moment is called the Fullness of Time (with an implicit reference to the Gospels), and it is made clear that the moment in time is about the revelation of Jesus Christ. The moment is therefore understood both as his coming to earth, but also as the individual's leap or discovery of Christ, ie the meeting between that in time and eternity. The change of man, from being in the untruth to getting the condition and thus the truth, is a rebirth of man after repentance and repentance to a new life in the truth. All this, however, is not due to man himself, as it was in the Socratic, but is due solely to the divine teacher. In this starting point, man is dependent on something external, ie God himself, because man lacks the ability to recognize the truth. Climacus says after this far-reaching logicline of thought: "But does this Developed think?" The task is not completed with this. It has raised several major issues that require clarification.

Philosophical Fragments by Kierkegaard - Summary by chapter

Philosophical Fragments or Philosophical Crumbs (in Danish: Philosophiske Smuler) is a major work in philosophy and theology, written by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in 1844 under the pseudonym Johannes Climacus. The book deals with the tension between philosophy and theology in the attempt to find "... a historical starting point for an eternal Consciousness;", as opposed to the idealistic thinking of Plato, Aristotle and Hegel. 

The pseudonym Johannes Climacus is a figure in Kierkegaard's many different figures who, from a non-Christian point of view, makes an attempt to investigate the possibility that God may have come to earth in Jesus Christ. He also wants to know whether one can build his salvation on this fact. 

Overview and main theme

In Philosophical Fragments Climacus' hypothetical project seeks to shed light on whether a historical starting point can be given in the moment on which one can build eternal bliss.  Climacus analyzes two answers to the question; a negative answer which is based on Plato's dialogue Menon, and which is called the Socratic, and a positive one which is based on an alternative position which, in contrast to the Socratic, emphasizes that the moment in time is of crucial importance. Climacus attempts to illuminate a fundamental difference between a philosophical view of the world (rational) and a theologicalview of the world as two opposites as faith is crucial to theology because faith cannot be made the object of rational thinking. Faith is incomprehensible and thus escapes all construction.

Summary by chapter of Philosophical Fragments

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Summary: Eros and Civilization by Herbert Marcuse

The essay Eros and Civilization by Herbert Marcuse connects the tradition of critical theory and Marxist social criticism with the statements of psychoanalytic theory, as a direct response to Freud's essay Civilization and its Discontents. Marcuse emphasizes in the introduction that the purpose of the essay is "to contribute to the philosophy of psychoanalysis - not to psychoanalysis itself."

The aim of Eros and Civilization is to describe the contradictions of modern social conditions by means of a dialectically proceeding method that grasps the depths of our culture and, in particular, to shed light on the connection between subject and sociality in a theoretically ambitious process. Marcuse also tries to extract from the critical analysis of the given possibilities of a liberated society and a liberated subjectivity. This is his positive blueprint of future social relations. He claims that it is not a utopia he is suggesting, but rather to find approaches to future liberation in the constitution of social reality and the human individual. Marcuse outlined a society in which economic and social progress would make it possible to harmonize reason and eros: eros, culture, art and human happiness would be vitalized, repressive painful work would no longer be necessary.


I. Under the rule of the reality principle

According to Freud, the condition for the creation of a culture and the establishment of stable social relationships is the suppression of destructive and antisocial drives . The original pleasure principle, aimed at the immediate and complete satisfaction of the instinctual wishes, comes under the control of the reality principle under the influence of a reality shaped by material deficiency. The fulfillment of instinctual wishes is postponed under the effect of social domination, thereby creating the conscious, thinking and remembering subject. The pleasure principle is repressed into the unconscious and only the imagination does not come under the rule of the reality principle . The suppression of the pleasure principle, however, weakens the eros in favor of the destructive tendency of Thanatos and thus leads to the sociopathological dynamics of modern societies such as war and mass murder. 

In contrast to Freud, however, Marcuse sees the ananke (lack of life), under the influence of which the repression of the instincts develops, as a historically contingent fact and not as a timeless condition of human existence per se. The historically predominant form of the reality principle is the achievement principle. The pleasure principle is limited in time to leisure time and spatially to genitality. This frees up a large part of the time and the human body for the performance of alienated work, so man can reproduce himself and his social environment under conditions of natural deficiency. In the current phase, the performance principle is shaped by the requirements of productive efficiency and competition. The alienated worknow creates degrees of freedom itself, above all freedom from natural constraints and thus indirectly serves the pleasure principle, albeit at the price of an oppressive culture.

Marcuse coined the term surplus repression, which is not absolutely necessary for the existence of culture, but serves to organize the rule of man over man. In the course of history this rule is overcome again and again through revolutionary processes, but is immediately rebuilt because the subjects identify the rule with the existence of a life-securing order par excellence through internalized oppression. This creates a double feeling of guilt through betraying the rule and one's own desires for freedom.

II. Beyond the reality principle

However, by increasing productivity in alienated work, the reality principle creates the conditions throughout history for the prevailing form of the reality principle to be abolished. “The more complete the alienation , the greater the potential of freedom.” Marcuse sees a historical phase in which people can determine their needs themselves. By automating production, the alienated work that is still essential to life could be limited to a minimum in terms of time. Eros would be freed from its destructive restraints to a great extent. However, a precondition for this would be the renunciation of the standard of living that has been achieved in the western world.

In contrast to Freud, Marcuse assumes that such a liberated eros would not lead to the downfall of culture, on the contrary: “The liberation of eros could create new, lasting work relationships.” It would lead to a self- sublimation of sexuality, the more cultivated one Would enable relationships between individuals. Marcuse assumes a libidinal one inherent in Eros morality, which after the abolition of the additional oppression and the associated forms of rule could lead to the development of a liberated indevidual.

See also Marcuse on The One Dimensional Man and  Repressive Tolerance

Monday, November 29, 2021

Marcuse / Repressive Tolerance - summary and explanation

Repressive Tolerance is a term coined by Herbert Marcuse in a 1965 essay by the same title. Marcuse believed that the media wrongly pays as much attention to non-news as to real news. This kind of tolerance for irrelevant news was considered repressive by Marcuse, because it diminishes the relative importance of the real news.

Today, repressive tolerance is understood differently: it is said to be a technique applied by a ruling power in which ideas or organizations that are undesirable for that power are given a place in order to render them harmless. In the 1970s, authorities are said to have used this tool to institutionalize and thus erode social resistance. Repressive tolerance is then not real tolerance, but a strategy to combat ideas that are not tolerated.

Marcuse first used the term in 1965 in his essay Repressive Tolerance in which he portrays capitalism and democracy as totalitarian and repressive systems. One form of repressive tolerance Marcuse mentions is tolerating (under the guise of neutrality and freedom of expression ) opinions that are regressive, repressive, or objectively incorrect. Giving "stupid" and "ill-informed" regressive right-wing people the same platform as "well-informed" progressive left-wingers does not promote tolerance, according to Marcuse, but only the status quo which leaves the ruling power structures untouched. Marcuse concludes that therefore undemocratic means (such as certain forms of direct action ) can promote tolerance and break through repressive tolerance.

See also Marcuse on The One Dimensional Man 

One Dimensional Man Explained Simply

In his book The One Dimensional Man Herbert Marcuse argues that the "advanced industrial society" creates false needs that allow individuals to be integrated into the system of production and consumption through mass media, advertising and morality. The consequence is a "one-dimensional" universe of thought and behavior, within which critical thinking or anti-systemic behaviors are gradually pushed aside. 

In short, the one dimensional man is a result of capitalism commodifying every aspect of our lives. Modern society is giving us comfort and entertainment but taking away our ability to think for ourselves.

Against this prevailing climate, Marcuse championed a "great refusal", the only opposition considered by him adequate to the current methods of thought control. Much of the work consists of a defense of this "negative thinking" as a force of fracture against the positivist system.

Marcuse also reports on the integration of the industrial working class into capitalist society and the new forms of the stabilization of capitalism, reinterpreting the Marxist postulates of a necessary crisis of capitalism and proletarian revolution. In contrast to orthodox Marxist doctrine, Marcuse further emphasizes the unintegrated strength of minorities, outsiders, and radical intelligentsias, in the hope of nurturing critical thinkin which will oppose capitalism.

The book concludes with the pessimistic quote from Walter Benjamin:"It is only because of those who are hopeless that hope is given to us".

See here an extended Summary of Marcuse's One Dimensional man and some more to read about the Frankfurt School and on Marcuse's Repressive Tolerance and Eros and Civilization.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Summary: The Mysterious Fall of the Nacirema

In 1972, Neil B. Thompson wrote an article following "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" by Horace Miner. Thompson's article was titled "The Mysterious Fall of the Nacirema" and it was about the fall of the "Naricema" civilization. Research on the Nacirema heritage shows that the extinction of the Nacirema culture was caused by the development of the people themselves. They turned the landscape of hills full of trees into barren flat land. In some areas, Nacirema erected tall towers and statues made of steel. Some of these towers are arranged in a long line that rises to the horizon and each is connected by cables. In a period of about 300 solar cycles (based on radiocarbon dating), The Nacirema leave many ill things to the environment such as changing the appearance of air and water. In the last 50 solar cycles, the color of the water in their environment has changed from blue and green to red and brown. 

in Thompson 's "The Mysterious Fall of the Nacirema" the Nacirema society values equality and free will so that there is no caste division . Research shows the presence of the Elibomotua cult who performs rituals to create an intense sense of individual involvement in efforts to control the environment. This cult focuses on creating artistic symbols for man-made environmental systems. Archaeologists have uncovered a large collection of symbols of the Elibomotua cult. Unnatural colors, materials and sizes indicate cult values. Most people follow this cult and perform rituals of using and caring for objects called racperiodically. This is believed by researchers to have influenced the chemical characteristics of the air. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Meaning of Simulacra and Simulation Explained Simply

Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard that discusses the relationship between reality, symbols and society. Simulacra are copies that represent elements that never existed or that no longer have their equivalent in reality. Simulation is the imitation of an operation or process existing in the real world.

Simulacra and Simulation deals with symbols and signs and the way they relate to contemporary existence. Baudrillard claims that current society has replaced all reality and meanings with symbols and signs, making the human experience a simulation of reality. Furthermore, these simulacra are not merely mediations of reality, nor even misleading mediations of reality; they simply hide that something like reality is irrelevant to our current understanding of our lives.

Orders of Simulacra

According to Baudrillard, there are three categories of simulacra. In the first, the simulacrum is natural, based on the imitation of reality. It is optimistic and utopian, aware of the impossibility of equating representation and reality (as seen, in the pre-modern period, in paintings, for example). In this case, the differentiation is kept and the referential is maintained, that is, the real object. In the author's words: "it is the island of utopia opposite the continent of reality". In the second category, the simulacrum is productive, mechanical, metallurgical, materialized by the machine, producing power. It appears in the period of the Industrial Revolution. Here, the massively produced copy threatens the source, the real object, the original reference. In the third category, the simulacrum is cybernetic, computerized. It relies on information and total control.