Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thinking - Or Rather "The Image of Thought"

The previous posts have basically dealt with the question: What is thinking? Or in a broader sense: What is abstract thinking, as in the proposition that the Enlightennment represented a ”reactivation of philosophical ethos” and whether this can be reborn. This is indeed at the heart of philosophy. But it also seems curiously dated, since it draws on a mythology of thinking that goes back to Antiquity and Plato’s dualism = philosophizing penetrates phenomena and reaches the purified sphere of the eternity of ideas.

This metaphor or concept has since – via a symbolic Rodin-like sculpture– become an archetype which signifies: sobriety, absence from reality, isolation, seriousness, non-practicality, ”the cobwebs of idle brains” as Shakespeare would have it, and generally an activity, ridiculed as a nerdy exercise.

Philosophers from Socrates,Descartes, Humes, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein et. al. subscribed to this image of thought and have consequently been viewed as ”dead white men” who were – for all practical purposes – ”failed persons” (as in ”failed states”) – unable to have satisfactory lives. And yet, this ”image of thought” has – and needs to be – evolved. Thinking about thinking naturally changes. As it should.

But thinking is speed. Not the so-called deep reflection = that slooooow contemplation is better (or more philosophical) than the rapid insight, the quick flash, the instant concept creation.

(Note: This is not just the proverbially provocative opposite)

The image of thought implies a strict division between fact and RIGHT: what pertains to thought as such must be distinguuished from contingent features of the brain or historical opinions…Are contemplating, reflecting, or communicating anything more than opinions held about thought at a particular time and in a particular civilization? The image of thought retains only what thought can claim by right.

Thought demands ”only” movement that can be carried to infinity. What thought claims by right, what it selects, is infinite movement or the movement of the infinite. It is this that constitutes the image of thought.
(D&G: What Is Philosophy?, p. 37)

Why do we still cling to the ancient ”image of thought” and why can’t we let the ”image” of it flow and flourish with the times, and thus ”reactivate a philosophical ethos”?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why do we still cling to the ancient ”image of thought” and why can’t we let the ”image” of it flow and flourish with the times, and thus ”reactivate a philosophical ethos”?"

Couldn't the question be: how do we not cling? How would we let it flow? And also, what precisely does flow mean here? We have to know how to flow. How do we?

Aren't your conceptions of what thinking is as expressed here also ancient? Your use of the word "cling", for example, has an ancient ring to it because it brings to mind Buddhism. Do you suggest we become Buddhists in order to think?

What are the "times"? Everything happening right now? (or at least everything right now impinging upon us?) But there so many things impinging upon me right now and I am quite certain it is better to resist quite a bit of it. Wouldn't it be a decent question for thought as to how to discriminate?

D-G suggest thought demands movement that can be carried to infinity. Obviously this is different than any image or conception of thinking which is an image and conception of clinging. Also, I am interested, in the DG quote, of their use of the concept of selection. This bears some resemblance to the concept of choice. I suppose you could say that DG ask us to choose infinite movement. But this in itself isn't very satisfying to me, because if I could I would choose or select infinite movement--but how? I am left with the question--how?


3:42 AM  

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