Friday, December 31, 2010

“the” Conversation of Humanity as seminar

webmail to the UC@Berkeley Townsend Humanities Lab “Project in Critical Theory” today:

What is the appeal of Critical Theory in this era? Critique for the sake of what? Is not an emancipatory interest (the critical spirit, so to speak) only cogent in service to developmental interests? Can we make good sense of facilitating our evolution via developmental discourse? Does Habermas’s work show how thinking best moves beyond the dialectical paradigm into more appropriate, developmental modes? What is to be done with the challenging work of Habermas—as a matter of educational philosophy (cognitive-developmental work), a cosmopolitan approach to social evolution (a philosophy of law), and a comprehensive sense of philosophy?—by persons believing that the critical spirit is best sustained by “Critical Theory”?

Monday, December 27, 2010

a merely-adaptive sense of self formation
vs. a progressive interest

I’m amazed at the pervasiveness of the adaptive mind in the “human” professions (education, health care, human sciences, etc.), because I’m wanting progressive inspiration for my progressive interests.

But I shouldn’t be amazed: So much of the world is not “up to par,” as they say. There’s so much suffering, thus so much remedial value to spreading healthy normalcy to all humanity. What is education for or health care for (thus the psychology that advances professions), if one isn’t giving high, high value to well-adapted lives, thus conceiving “well-being” accordingly? Nonetheless, this causes the human sciences (including positive psychology) to be prevalently oriented by desire to maximize adaptability, rather than thinking more progressively.

For children, we want to do what we can to at least provide a baseline of “protective factors for psychosocial resilience” (p. 126) which includes wanting for one’s child:
• easy temperament in infancy [thanks to good pre-natal and post-natal care]; adaptable personality later in development
• talents valued by self and society
• self regulation skills for self control of attention, arousal, and impulses
• general appealingness or attractiveness to others
• a positive outlook on life
• problem-solving skills
• positive self perceptions or self efficacy
• a sense of meaning in life
At best, that’s complemented by a range of aspects belonging to good families and close relationships; aspects of community and relationships with organizations (ibid). I do have realism about general conditions of normal good.

But one’s conception of development doesn’t have to be timid. Orientation to actualizing general normalcy is a lower valuing of “adaptation” than orientation to actualizing human potential. Pursuing the latter maximizes accomplishment of the former; pursuing the former does not educe promise of higher valuing. With all due regard for the lack of baseline humanity (rights, public health, decent quality of life, etc.) throughout much of the world, we are regularly inspired by the salience of high aspiration in developing areas. I’m carrying that admiration further in terms of interest in the horizons of excellence, albeit in my especially-interested way (which I do not pretend to evaluatively generalize). Progressive ambition has always been integral to humanistic ventures. But the human professions are not especially humanistic. They have a prevailing orientation to baseline adaptation (its about social costs, I guess) which denies the professions an ambitious conception of their calling (or “vision,” as they say). I’m not, in the near term, speaking directly to that lack by going my own way with highly aspirational (and often very conceptual) prospecting. But what goes up will come down.

Progressive prudence is very different from adaptive prudence. I deeply feel that adaptive resiliance is best conceived relative to aspirational self-efficacy. My sense of pragmatism is, heuristically speaking, a weave of idealism and realism. But pragmatism can be ambitious or timid. I consider the adaptationist horizon of the human professions to be opportunistically constrained (due at least to a budgetary legacy that has shaped professions’ conception). There’s easily an ethos of homeostasis in functionalist society that’s quietistic and, ultimately, unhumanistic. The classical ethos in philosophy of flourishing has always been “dangerous” to vested interests, if only because it asks for too much human development. It’s “unrealistic” to ask others to give primacy to their potential. It’s exhausting.

You can presume that all I want to do is ultimately for an advancement of humanistic union, though only in terms of what especially interests this one humanist, which is ultimately philosophical.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

“the” Conversation of Humanity as political theory

revised 8.27.13

Such a cornucopia of blogospheric work evolving! The notion of public sphere has been revolutionized by Internet evolution. We gift each other with time engaged with resourcing and linking. What a transformation of the notion of mediatized relationships as such, so beyond monetizing great exchange value—though doing business is vital to life! So, an ethos of generosity has been wonderfully mediatized.

Friday, December 10, 2010

thinking after Habermas

At least two motives cause me to begin this blog: The email discussion group is an antedated medium, and I want a cultural notion of The Conversation of Humanity that’s not fundamentally political.  

What’s “the” Conversation of Humanity?

I’m so unclear about my sense of “after”—an ambiguity of “in light of” and “beyond”—that I have to accept that my interest “after Habermas” is my own.

Here’s most of a posting to the Habermas group, Nov. 27, 2010, that I deleted from the group archive:
Occasionally, I have thoughts of wanting the site to turn into something new, but I don’t feel a good way to pose this. Who cares anyway? But I’m tired of intellectual tourism, which this [discussion] medium seems to be about.

Habermas’ work is not about Habermas. It’s about what his work is about, which is about a commonwealth of discursive inquiry, having a historicality to which he exemplarily contributes, thus may be seen to advance. But it’s not about him, though it’s intriguing to ask: What is being “Habermasian”? Generally: What are we to make of a singularity in philosophy: that there arises a philosophical mind with great singularity? The conditions for the possibility of a singularity of mind are bio-cultural and a lot of work, i.e., very difficult individuation. What are we to make of that, philosophically speaking?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Obama as Habermasian

I expect that my subject line seems eccentric. However, James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard scholar of American intellectual pragmatism, has just published Reading Obama (Princeton, 2011) which argues, in light of a thorough reading of Obama’s young career as legal scholar and political author, that Obama is an “intellectual president” in the lineage of American pragmatism and that Obama’s critical years of development at Harvard took place at a time of especially progressive ferment in legal theory concordant with Putnam’s interest in Habermas and philosopher Richard Bernstein’s pragmatism (beyond that fact that “...many of Bernstein’s books...appeared regularly in the footnotes of law review articles and just the time when Obama was studying law at Harvard…”[134]). 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

“...a kind of philosopher president, a rare breed...”

Thursday, 10.28 / Saturday, 10.30

Obama evidently fits into a small set of intellectual American presidents, and is the first to fit into the intellectual lineage (outside of politics) of American pragmatism. Reading Obama evidently shows a comprehensively-progressive political engagement with deliberative democratic thought which (I anticipate) connects well with the philosophy of J├╝rgen Habermas which is a development of American pragmatism for his approach to philosophy, so influential for me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

for a higher quality of political commons

Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court majority decision favoring unlimited corporate freedom to fund political marketing is depressing.

Saturday, 1/23

(AP)….At the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the head of its office that monitors democratic practices—an international human rights organization—says that the ruling…“threatens to further marginalize candidates without strong financial backing or extensive personal resources.”

Saturday, 1/23 “Obama says court ruling a blow to democracy”

(Reuters)….The Supreme Court ruling dealt a powerful blow to efforts to rein in corporate influence and could even allow foreign corporations to “get into the act,” Obama said.

“It will make it more difficult to pass common-sense laws to promote energy independence because even foreign entities would be allowed to mix in our elections,” Obama said.