Sunday, August 07, 2011

Temporary but Unrepentant Umbilical to Furthur Thought-Insanity, Part III

“…between us we papered over all of these hazards by assuring each other we were both free ‘to think and write anything either of us wanted.’ ”

This attitude, barely conscious to either of us, and to each of us certainly not recognizable as a potential source of strife and dislike—in fact entirely the opposite—surely we both believed this attitude would facilitate collaboration and dialogue—could come to play the insidious role it did because both of us, with full sincerity and joy consider the role of philosophy to be luxurious liberation, production of lavish luxury, of dance and celebration. Yes. What’s more, both of us understand quite well it’s not much of a dance when the dancers slam into each other causing concussion and death, so we would assume any dance we danced on the same dance floor would observe some level of decorum, grace, and civility. We would not anticipate the very notions of “decorum, grace, and civility,” as being loaded, as being the very notions which would, as we danced around, explode, as improvised explosive devices, turning the dance floor into a battleground, just a very peculiar battleground, where the silence following each explosion would be as toxic as depleted uranium after a bunker blast. It was all so innocent, in intention.

Carlos would propose the historical Enlightenment as the topic believing it exemplified liberation and joy as are realized through the most rigorous of thinking acts—thought as active—through thought-acts of critique and questioning followed and supported by experimentation, research, investigation (also thought-acts, thought as active.) The Enlightenment is historically speaking our best example of this—I sincerely share this belief.

In the Enlightenment, in the key figure of Kant (who we picked up kind of willy-nilly as THE thinker of the Enlightenment, the key figure of the whole diverse epoch, the metonym, our conceptual personae through which we would willy-nilly, and pathetically, bathetically, stage an Enlightenment drama), we saw an example of someone successfully challenging dogma (and probably creating our modern concept of dogma, and of creating the idea of dogma as the object of earnest philosophical inquiry). We could then look to Kant for lessons and examples of using thinking to liberate, create, and live joyfully through throwing off the shackles of dogma (thought not to be thought but obeyed, thought not subject to further thought, not to be criticized, questioned, ridiculed, or satirized, disobeyed, “sacred” thought, perfect and complete thought.)

However, dogma is not necessarily understood by Kant in quite the way I parenthetically describe, above. Dogma is understood by Kant mainly as religious thought, which was clearly defined in Kant’s time (in a way which it is no longer clearly defined in our time, and which, indeed, most of the ministers and priests in America which I encounter find as abhorrent as I do, ministers and priests uncomfortable with the label fundamentalist.)

Under my parenthesized characterization of dogma above, Kant’s own thinking could, perhaps, be understood as dogma. Kant of course would object to this understanding—maybe. We really would have done well to specify to what extent Kant would be justified in objecting. However, this isn’t entirely relevant except to academic philosophers, because no matter whether Kant really was set on establishing his own thinking as a new and somewhat more flexible dogma than the religious dogma he had admirably identified and criticized, it is obvious that in practice and daily life and in the academy itself for the most part (and I am very interested whether academic philosophers can step in to defend Kant against charges of dogmafication, godmafication, godamnstopmificatin, whether that defense is or ever can be ACTIVE), Kant’s is the dog. It has the function of a dog. It demands a shifted obedience (to the bourgeois, away from the aristocrat and priest), a new loyalty, a new set of shackles. It’d work as such, too, if not for the snoop dog.


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