Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rationality and Totality, Part II

My plan is to cast about in oceans, mud puddles, and witches’ brews in order to catch onto any strands of “rationality”, “totality” or any of the other key concepts we’ve identified as important to us, (for example myth, autonomy, overcoming, critique,) not to come up with a best meaning or relationship or theory, or the “true” definition of rationality, but in order to discover what we want from the historical Enlightenment. This is similar to what I wanted to do by examining “myth is totality” as desire. I didn’t, and maybe couldn’t, finish that. What I wanted to say is whatever fault I may have found with “myth is totality”, as desire it is perfect. (Even if I did conclude “myth is totality” is a metaphoric desire, which for me is a suspect desire, it is still, as desire, perfect.)

I register a nearly immediate, but vague, association of totality with unity, and further, I think of the drive to unity, the drive for union—which brings to my mind the thought of eros and thus an association of totality with the erotic. And I wonder—is totality a rationalized eros? Is totality something like a rationalized love? And thus, a “love gone bad?” (Because to my mind a rational love is a sickened love—does anyone agree? I would like to return to this, later.) Returning to our very brief theory of the Enlightenment, we could now have, “Enlightenment is the overcoming of 'love gone bad' through critique.” Not so bad!(But I don't think it represents the historical Enlightenment.) I’d also like to tie “love gone bad” to the Enlightenment’s concepts of autonomy, because I think the Enlightenment’s concept of autonomy is loveless, and that's ruinous.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yusef, I like your grappling with these (absolutist) concepts and trying to embrace them at the same time as wrestling yourself away from them. This is an epic battle.

I'll try to jump into this - later - but for now I think we simply have to agree to a common set of definitions (of course bearing in mind the inadequacy of language in general) of what we decide to mean when using the concept of The Enlightenment. In other words: moving from the molar to the molecular, from the public to the private.

We have to construct our own language and create new concepts from which we might suggest new flightlines.

For too long we have accepted the traditional meaning of The Enlightenment. We have been rattling the cage from within. It's time to break out and coalesce around a different interpretation and move on from there.

Let's do that.

I hope to have more on this soon.

In the meantime we might each ponder the possibilities.

Best wishes,


7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think we simply have to agree to a common set of definitions..."

But part of my point is that simply agreeing to a common set of definitions will be contrary to our objective of concept creation. Perhaps I need to attempt a better explanation of exactly this point--
I will try to give that explanation later. I have found such agreement to result in something arbitrary and mediocre and to cool further inquiry rather than facilitate it.

I think it's interesting you identify these as absolutist concepts -- I do agree with that. I even wanted to talk about the relationship between absolutist concepts and the concept of totality.

Thanks for commenting. Greatly appreciated.


9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Common agreement and definition eliminate differences and differentials and thus stop flow.


9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To put this just a little further-- if we seek agreement on a common set of definitions, what we seek is to conform to each other. It doesn't matter (to me) that in doing this we would be imposing conformity on ourselves...which would give the conformity a semblance of autonomous action...

...However, I want to contrast this autonomous conformity with "machining a difference",which is closer to my desired aim...

...I don't know how difficult it is to follow my thoughts here, and that concerns me a great deal as it is unpleasant to consider I might be leaving a trail of gibberish behind me. Which is what my thoughts amount to if they are impossible or even excessively difficult to follow...

...I want to 1)avoid conformity 2) machine difference 3) not machine gibberish-- and I do rely on whatever feedback I happen to get to distinguish these three


9:34 PM  

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