Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Shadows of Totalization, Part III

I am making a very important assumption: that rationality and consciousness are strongly linked if not exactly identical. I am also making my concept of totalization be a process of rationality and thus of consciousness as well—I am making totalization be a drive of consciousness, (if "drive of consciousness" can even be sensible.)

I want totalization to be considered a process by which everything comes to be under conscious control, a way of bringing everything into the realm and reign of the conscious mind. Sex, death, labor, desire, emotion, belief—any aspect of biological or psychological or other area of life, or of existence in general, (it’s significant to discover I cannot without much additional effort think of a way of describing or listing “life” phenomena without using a “study of” suffix “—ology”) is shaped and formed so that it may be apprehendable by consciousness.

I take for granted that such processes as examination and study can be considered conscious processes. (Or else nothing can be taken as a conscious process. Right? See, I feel a little shaky.) I also take for granted that actions such as making a choice require the participation of consciousness. (An unconscious choice isn’t really a choice, I think.) I can’t conceive of rationality without including processes of examination (of evidence, of reasons, of reasoning, questioning,) and study, and of the weighing of options in making choices. Therefore, I can’t conceive of a rationality which isn’t a process of consciousness.

Once the requirement for examination, study, and the weighing of options is recognized (as it began to be in the age of Enlightenment, when “belief” becomes no real reason or basis for very much of anything,) I don’t see how or why it would ever stop being required, until everything had been examined, studied, and investigated. (Which happens when? Ever? But in my opinion the significance of this being a never ending requirement can’t register within rationality as such, and in a way gets treated as if it is not significant, somehow.) The requirement for consciousness, of consciousness, becomes total.


Blogger Carl Sachs said...

I would reverse the polarity on the field, so to speak.

I think it's important and helpful to see totalization as driven by, or as presuming, a equivalence between consciousness and rationality. I think that seeing it in this way can help bring to the surface some assumptions that unite philosophers otherwise as different as Descartes and Hegel.

(Hegel is sometimes regarded as the arch-anti-Cartesian. I see him as very closely aligned with Descartes just because the task of bringing spirit into consciousness of itself must be understood as a rational process -- that's why the phenomenology of spirit can be made the object of scientific inquiry.)

Yet I also think that the demand for totality can be short-circuited by decoupling rationality and consciousness. For example, if we think of consciousness as a concept that only applies to the first-personal or subjective point of view, and we think of rationality as basically social, then we can tease them apart.

(So, no collective or historical subjectivities!)

A philosophy which shows us how to decouple consciousness and rationality could be systemtic (e.g. Habermas, Brandom) or a-systematic (e.g. Wittgenstein) -- or both, a sort of anti-systematic system (e.g. Adorno, and perhaps a better reading of Wittgenstein).

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read your comment several times and I don't really understand it. I am, however, going to attempt to comment on it in future posts. I have to say this so you'll have some idea what the heck is happening.


1:57 PM  
Blogger Christoffer said...

Yusef in some past post you mentioned the idea that rationality is a social phenomenon. I think it was in some comments under a thread that had to do with Kant. So if rationality is atleast partly social and normative,
it cannot be identical to consciosuness that we know of as private. Since sociality is something that takes place *between* people.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comments, Christoffer and Carl, are helpful to me. You both speak of the social, of the sociality of rationality, as a way of pointing to a decoupling of consciousness and rationality. And yet, while rationality may be social (I think it is,) the rise to predominance of rationality in society via the Enlightenment marks a change of society which has often been described in terms of antagonisms: of religion and science, of art and science, etc.

I see these as antagonisms as expressing a change in the role of the conscious mind in culture (which may destroy culture,) and in society. Society demands an emphasis on conscious thinking in individuals(through educational systems and virtually every other social institution--which obviously changed radically between now and the Enlightenment); the individual reciprocally demands the rationalization of society. I don't worry too much about the kinds of problems emerging from the individual/society dualism here-- I use that dualism merely for a quick explanation.


11:08 AM  

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