Sunday, June 1, 2014
telic appeal in the flow of being
I’m presently in the latter stages of transposing the “Habermas and Truth” e-mails into Webpages [June 4: Finished! and a new sense of the Website initiated, to be updated as apt], yet also using the occasion to comment on that earlier work, which makes those pages very involved. I don’t imagine that anyone has read much of them, though the project links almost directly from the Facebook/Habermas Page. Students of Habermas’s work may find the Facebook Page, find my pages, and read a few paragraphs before moving on. Fine. The work is there; one can’t claim that my innerworldly reveries don’t result from sober philosophical explorations. I welcome better sense from others about it all. But I don’t obsess about others’ disinterest. The work is there. I move on.
Anyway, I’m doing that today, and I had a couple of thoughts, on my morning walk to the creek on campus, that can be made into one thought: Habermas is a creature of the metaphysicalism that he authentically sought to work beyond.
That’s shown by his insistence, in his theory of “truth,” on idealizing unconditionality of discursive results and unconstrainedness of inquiry. That happened because he shaped his conception of philosophy during a period of European history (post-War Germany) that was less concerned with critique of metaphysics (which became political theology leading to the Holocaust) than with restoring integrity to German intellectual life. This caused him to seek to appropriate Kant (Germany’s favorite son) to the needs of German intellectual life. (Kant, by the way, was actually the son of a family recently immigrated from Scotland!) Habermas’ [re]appropriation of Kant involved an appropriation of C.S. Peirce (as well as a socialization of Kant), who idealized unconditional results from unconstrained inquiry, but weaved that into a conception of evolutionary realism, contrary to Kantian aspirations to capture a transcendental realm, which Habermas made generative in Peircean terms. Habermas has a loyalty to Kantian aspirations that are very German, for good reason. But the philosophical result was a discourse ethics that demands more than we need, due to the evolving nature of Our conceptuality. I see a way to, so to speak, evolutionize Habermas’s discourse ethic, but my way with discourse ethics is thus quite different from his.
So, I’d say that, in a sense, I’m working more in the Peircean spirit than Habermas, while not at all influenced by Peirce in particular. My undergraduate mentor was actually a Peirce specialist, it so happened. I wasn't interested in Peirce as an undergraduate, but I was philosophically mentored by someone who embodied Peircean thinking. Later, I took some interest in Peirce because Habermas did—and others did (e.g., literary semioticians, Derrideans), but I wasn't very drawn to the 19thC man in particular. This past year, I became interested, but soon felt that his semiotics has been antedated by others’ work which interests me very much, e.g., Terence Deacon, who happens to also be an endowed professor in the UCBerkeley Dept. of Anthropology, though we’ve not met yet. My interest in Deacon arose before he came to Berkeley. Strange how things go.
Now where was I?...So, Habermas’ sense of Peirce preceded his being drawn into critique of metaphysics beyond Hegel’s critique of Kant, Marx’s critique of Hegel, and Habermas’s influence by linguistic theory and cognitive psychology. By the time he became interested in “postmetaphysical thinking,” his commitment to his discourse ethics was axial for his work. His latter day interest has no critical bearing on his discourse ethic. Rather, it’s regarded as part of the fleshing out of his thinking. Idealization of unconstrained unconditionality persists.
But that idealization is less attractive than a realistic estimation of Our evolving, which I’m very involved in developing and articulating. I have extensive notes on the matter, but no succinct portrait of my developing position—mind evolving through inquiry into Our evolving.
My amending transposition of the “Habermas and truth” work is giving me occasion to somewhat situate my project relative to my reading of Habermas, but only briefly. (Search ‘Could it be that the fusion’ at “an epistemic sense of truth.”
Part of It All, for me, is a romance of creative potential, as both an engagement with understanding creativity generally and doing what creative work I can fruitfully do. A sense of positive or generative “constraints” here would be that which draws potential into actualizing itself, enables actualization, and channels talent creatively. The notion of constraint is not really useful; I rather think of generativity. I glorify generativity. So, relative to that, I think—the first thought I had on my walk today—why prefer unconstrainedness to generativity? Desiring unconstrainedness seems to be a libertarian vestige of emancipatory interest. Once you’re truly free, you’re well directing of a purposeful life, living hope for fruitfulness and fulfillment. The best freedom longs to further actualize its potential. There is work to love to do!
Also part of It All, for me, is that appeal of Our evolving, the appeal of conceptual prospecting that “confuses,” generatively, the difference between individual development and discernment of lasting importance, i.e., prospecting what belongs to Our evolving—generatively confusing a difference between mind evolving (a lovely pretentiousness, as if one could be a leading mind by just trying very persistently) and Our evolving (which is only discernible as a highly derived constellation of discursive formations).
As a matter of poetic thinking, this shows as happy surrender to a flow of being. So, the second thought I had this morning on my walk was: Why idealize unconditionality rather than consonance with the flow of being?
The two thoughts came without all of the explanatory attention that I’ve provided above, of course, because I am that background, very partially.
I go for walks. I have isolated thoughts from time to time.
The high tree boughs by the creek were so lovely in the morning sun, shading me well, but showing high so many shades of green in complex bouquets of branching leaves. Why idealize unconditionality rather than consonance with the flow of being? Why prefer unconstrainedness to generative or telic appeal?
-- 5:48 PM