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.

Within It All are bright spots in political discourse. So, inasmuch as a Conversation of Humanity is political, the pulse of leading political humanity belongs to the cultural flow of Internet life, as much as to proceduralized institutions. If one were to develop a notion of leading intelligence as political intelligence, it would require ample appreciation of the Internet as greatly distributed cognitivity. Venturing to understand a notion of leading intelligence is at least a prompt for inquiring into our discursive humanity as best we can.

Such understanding must be ultimately indeterminate, since the emergence and disappearance of voices—points in a vast pointillism of light (off there, on there) in our networking evolution—and too many “404”-type disappointments with so many resources—is all too salient. But that’s life: death and birth, growth and aging, every day full of new chances.

Yet, the Internet topography isn’t the Conversation itself, and a cultivation of humanity can’t be only political, of course. (The Conversation isn’t primarily political either, I have argued in detail, here and there.) Academically speaking, I think It’s located in interplay of sciences and humanities, and such Play could be considered aspiring to a high notion of “consilience” (see esp. ftn. 1 there). Such a Conversation should be seen as near to heart with the calling of the university to enable global human development, as I’ve recently indicated. (I recently discovered that UNESCO believes it couldn’t exist without philosophy. Good! [1/2/18: There was a link there, but it’s no longer valid. Instead, here’s a link to UNESCO’s account of their involvement with philosophy.])

So, I regard my decades of sojourning with Habermas’s work as part of the Conversation, now lusciously Internetted, containing Our academic heights, containing ideals of consilience, and enabled in part by philosophy. Habermas is firstly a philosopher, and philosophy doesn’t reduce to political philosophy. Habermas’s engagement as philosopher is not primarily political. It’s—well, philosophical! Indeed, his 1983 notion of philosophy as enabler of interdisciplinarity (Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 1990, ch. 1: “MCCA” below) was about the entire landscape of interdisciplinary studies in university life. This was furthered with his 1988 “Remarks on Discourse Ethics” (Justification and Application, 1993)—which, by the way, implied quite clearly that an ethic of discourse (the main attraction in MCCA) is not primarily a philosophy of law—nor primarily about morality. Philosophy is proximally an appropriative venture pertaining to the Play (yet philosophy is primarily inquirial—conceptual prospecting, I like to say).

By the way, two recent books come to mind for a holistic conception of leading intelligence as not a set of persons but a kind of interest in collaborative inquiry:
Interdisciplinary Conversations: challenging habits of thought (Stanford UP, Oct. 2010)
The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity (March 2017).
But who has time for a fraction of the resources available?