Monday, November 4, 2013

Contact Competence with Absolute Others

The fact that there are probably many Earth-like planets in our galaxy is mind boggling.

We’ve been searching for planets merely a few decades. We’ve only had electronic technology for little over a century. What about intelligent life that’s millions of years beyond us? You think they don’t know we’re here?

As a long-time member of S.E.T.I., I’m familiar with the realism of the issue and also the serious speculations about why The Search has only found silence.

In a phrase—cute, but serious—my view is like talking about great sex: 5 year-olds wouldn’t understand, and it would be abusive of an adult to bring up the subject. The Absolute Others (A.O.s, let’s say) are keeping silent until we’ve evolved further.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

in praise of constructive engagement

Why do persons with a personality disorder (e.g., narcissism) need therapy to get beyond it, rather than merely changing their ways in light of empathic critique?

Of course, personalities get invested in ways of perceiving, ways of reading, ways of regarding oneself that gave psychoanalysis its credibility (which infused literary criticism long before Deconstruction). The therapeutic calling can be a critical hermeneutics that requires quiet tact. Those who regard philosophy as therapy get there through experience.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Heidegger and reading political times

July 15, 2014: This will eventually be used in a very expanded Website project that allows for development of subtopics beyond brief indications here.

I intellectually grew up with Heidegger’s major work, beginning in 1971. What can I say briefly that’s useful? In a few sentences: Heidegger’s short-lived hermeneutical phenomenology of political time-space expressed an emancipatory philosophical interest in enabling his locality to show community-based potential. Indeed—and unsurprisingly—the philosopher sees philosophy enabling community-based constructiveness, which was to be detailed systematically in university policy and realistic, practical curriculae. Educational leadership enables the people to be the self-formative basis of the good state. The answer to people’s prejudice is education. This may educe one’s ownmost advance of self-understanding (and self confidence) which is the condition for the possibility of a generous spirit, thus for durable openness to truly understanding and living with all ways of genuine lives.
[May 17, 2014: Alluding to generous spirit here is my heuristic; but it could be explicated in fidelity to Heidegger’s critique of notions of spirit. The holding good of the “thing” also applies to public space that may witness mirrorplays of ethnic integrity: a multi-ethnicity that is also deeply humanistic—beyond the essentialist humanism that Heidegger re-frames—thus, “post”-ethnic in the sense of the interplay itself of deeply humanistic appreciation for all ethnicities in and as their authentic inter-presence.]

Monday, September 23, 2013

“...the healing of a common humanity”

My title here is a passing phrase in a remarkable column at the New York Times, “Medicine’s Search for Meaning,” especially the second half of the article which moves beyond discussing the loss of meaning in the business of medicine to how medical schools are securing the feeling for medicine, and senior physicians are finding renewal. 

It’s not a common humanity that’s being healed, of course; rather, the disclosure of one’s own humanity as the basis for durable empathy and for belonging durably to the art of the calling—the work of the art—heals. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

on being light

We don’t wince at talk of humane or humanistic enlightenment, but to walk the talk is to enown teaching, philosophically perhaps to ask: What is channeled that may be so enowned by learning that It gives (as Heidegger would connote with “Es gibt,” There is/It gives) enlightening, at best profoundly so?

A developmental interest (one’s ownmost reason for an emancipatory interest) belongs to both learner and teacher, at best in an essentially-complementary way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

caring for progressive pragmatism

When I happened across the NYTimes review of An Uncertain Glory, by Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen, about contemporary India, I found myself “stuck” on the photo. You must read the review (after reading my post, of course).

According to the reviewer, the book is...
...a heartfelt plea to rethink what progress in a poor country ought to look like....“There is a real need for pragmatism here,” they write, “and to avoid both the crushing inefficiency of market denial . . . and the pathology of ideological marketization.”...
This echoes the debate in the U.S. and Europe on “austerity” vs. “stimulation,” which has been dramatic in India as
...the “feud” between [1] Drèze and Sen, champions of the poor, and [2] the economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, co-authors of Why Growth Matters and champions of market deregulation, who argue that too much spending on social welfare programs might derail economic growth....

Friday, September 13, 2013

how limited international law is like high school

part of a project on Habermas and transnationalism

Ignoring of international law—“with impunity,” they say—commonly has no consequences for “sovereigns.” We easily idealize a common commitment to law, but how to make it binding is anyone’s guess. (March 15, 2014: You, too, can become Russian). 

A few days ago, I came across two books on international law that seemed very relevant. Their titles are the basis of my subject line (but not the “high school” part—which has a serious side to it). I came across the titles because I was thinking about the Syria Event, whose parameters have changed significantly in recent days. My interest is also to think about the nature of international law, in light of the Syria Event (but I’m no specialist on law).

But who cares about the common impotence of international law? The Syrians do, certainly (glad). Allies of the Syrians care. Regional neighbors with their own agendas care (not glad). And investors who want global market stability care (not glad). Oh!: And soft-hearted humanitarians with free time to feel desperate sympathy for tragic violations of human rights. But the latter doesn’t (1) sell; nor (2) terribly bother regional neighbors with their own agendas. The bottom line easily seems to be...The Bottom Line. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

cultivating humanity

I want to recycle a favorite quote from Habermas: the closing paragraphs of JH’s lecture “The Idea of the University,” 1986 (citation follows the quote). Here I’m splitting apart the passage from that lecture and numbering the parts, for the sake of later reference.

This is basically one continuous passage—one continuous period of his presentation—from his lecture. But I’ve edited out some short parts in order to emphasize a sense of
the progressive practicality of higher education which philosophy after metaphysicalism may serve. An implicit ethos for me is that the efficacy of higher education (with its research enterprises) leads prospects for generalized Good (human development, healthy regions, ethical industrial development, political ethics, sustainable planet, etc.).

Habermas highlights 14 aspects... 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

ethnomusicology and Habermas

I’m enchanted by trying to make unusual relations fruitful. I happened across a graduate student of ethnomusicology who expressed interest in Habermas, but who disappeared before I got a chance to appreciate his interest. So, I’m prospecting a connection myself: philosophy and anthropology; easy. Anthropology and ethnomusicology; of course. Philosophy and ethnomusicology might be an area of theoretical cultural anthropology. Altogether, this makes a normal context of interdisciplinary studies, a topic in communion between field-level human sciences and conceptual humanities.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The German question

part of Habermas and the EU

This is ultimately about the problem of EU integration from the German point of view.

Since it’s the middle of an election season in Germany, it would seem unlikely that there’s such a singularity as “the” German point of view on Europe. But all of Germany and all of Europe can agree that there is the German Question in all talk of EU prosperity. Andrea Kluth (Berlin bureau chief for The Economist) explicates it brilliantly. This is must reading:

The dilemma at the heart of Europe: Germany and the German Question” [If that original link becomes invalid, Kluth’s essay can be found here.]

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

trans-regional democratic innovation

part of projects on Habermas and the EU and transnationalism

A recent paper, “Trans-National Democratic Innovation in the European Union: Flirting with Deliberative and Plebiscitry Design,” is very relevant to thinking about Habermas’s interest in EU transnationalism. The U.S. correlate would be a matter of trans-state innovation in federalism. Can each learn from the other?

I don’t recall that Habermas gives attention to the European Citizens’ Initiative, which the linked paper above (from the Aug. 2013 Americal Political Science Associsation conference) discusses.

What can thinking about that initiative do for American interest in more deliberative processes in society?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

discourse theory and international law

Last February, Habermas responded very accessibly to questions on “discourse theory and international law,”...

• followed by an analysis in March 2013 of the problem of “Bringing the Integration of Citizens into line with the Integration of States,”...

• which unwittingly provides a good background and complement to his April 2013 Leuven lecture, “Democracy, Solidarity and the European Crisis.”

Altogether, these provides good context for assessing what may (or may not) be exemplary about EU problems for general thinking—as one also dwells at length with Habermas’s Athens lecture later? This lecture, by the way, became the subject for a symposium, which I linked to, as part of a project on transnationalism.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Teleological aspects are part of any action

part of Habermas studies

Teleological action is a basic kind of action in Habermas's theory. This is commonly not appreciated because his critique of instrumentalism has been so important to his work. Yet, all action has purposive aspects, and communicative action commonly serves large scale purposes. In On the Pragmatics of Communication (OPC), he writes (in a footnote):

Communicative action is always embedded in the teleological action contexts of the individuals respectively participating in it. (213)

Monday, August 26, 2013

the better way

If you search the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for an article on “Good,” you primarily get an article on “Value Theory” and find out at the end that the best view of ‘good’ (e.g., “X is good”) is that it’s about what’s better as such (“X is better than...” other relevant options in consideration). 

So, choosing to focus here on a notion of “the better way” is not about an egoistic desire by me to assert my own preferences about anything in particular. Yet, ‘good’ usually is about particulars: a way among ways, in this case. Several options are probably good, but some are better. One might even be best. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

public health policy and philosophy

March 31, 2017: This was a placeholder for an anticipated discussion. Now, it’s archival. But the placeholder status remains valid, to be rewritten (or rather written) relative to the above title, as part of the “advancing community” area of (which will retain the present footer here and lose this present note).

August 2013:

I'll start by simply pointing to three old discussions of mine at my "discursive stances" page:

  • “Theory” and “Practice”
  • Policy: the concept
  • Well-being and Public Policy
Other old discussions on that page aren't directly relevant to this topic.

Next, I'll discuss the earlier-mentioned JAMA article in detail. That would be a beginning part of the "healthy regions…” Project (an approach to public policy generally). But I can't feel I'm reasonably ready to delve into all that without a sense of good as such, which can be regarded simply enough, but quickly involves complex conceptual issues deserving of appreciation—an integrity of complexity. So, what's to be done with "philosophy for good"? Philosophy for good—> public health as philosophical topic—> public policy generally (as philosophical venture).

[To be continued—really, yet to be begun.]

This posting is associated with the “advancing community” area of

Thursday, August 22, 2013

healthy regions Of community

a sense of humanistic union

This project is to be developed over some months in light of material I've drafted over several years. It'll become a central part of

After giving more substance to the earlier posting, “philosophy for good” (which is barely begun), I want to do a thought experiment on public health policy, premised on a short JAMA article today. But I’ll do some prefacing now.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

philosophy for good

I want to pursue a philosophically-informed notion of "the" Good relative to interest in durability of philosophical work after metaphysicalism. Given that there's no eternal Order to Our evolving (other than the evolving of developed senses of Order), what's the "nature" of philosophy such that discursive inquiry may durably contribute to Our evolving?

This is a vague question with an impossibly conclusive answer. But it's a useful question (good for inquiry), and pursuing it can be fruitful (importantly practical).

And maybe practical inquiry can lead into a large scale project that’s worthwhile.

[To be continued]

Sunday, August 18, 2013

prospecting a conception of cognitive artistry

I was enthused by the appearance in English of Media of Reason, reviewed last week, which may be closer to my post-Habermasian interests than anything I’ve read before, if the review serves the author well.

August 14, I posted to “my” Habermas discussion list about the book: first thoughts in light of the review. Since the archival version at the site has garbage characters for commas, apostrophes and quote marks, the entire posting is below. Then, I’ll move on to what I wrote to Vogel today, after he responded warmly to an earlier note from me. The August 14 posting:

Friday, August 16, 2013

eating rice

We use a fork. I often think that chopsticks are more practical for some foods. But not for rice. However, I learned to eat rice at a good rate with chopsticks. 

In either case, one gets to the point where there are just a few cooked grains left on the plate or in the bowl. Should I eat them? This is difficult to do with a fork. (Some bread helps—or, if no one's looking: one's finger; better to leave the little buggers?) It's easier with chopsticks, if you value each grain.

It's also easier to value each grain with chopsticks.

Monday, July 15, 2013

about the Facebook/Habermas project

February 12, 2018

Since the Facebook software often fails to load the “Our story” narrative validly on its “About“ page, I’ve removed my long narrative to here.

The Page honors the work of Jürgen Habermas as philosopher, theorist, and public intellectual, yet primarily as philosopher. Habermas gains much attention as political theorist and public intellectual, but his philosophical approach is not widely appreciated.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

an imago retires

I’ve deeply wanted to do regular posting again, i.e., making time for it; no problem finding issues. One topic I desired to pursue—theology of Catholic objection to contraception—seemed too big for posting, so I shelved it. But the politics of this is worth detailed attention.

Then I noticed that another book on Habermas and religion is due out soon (not another one), so I thought I might de-shelve my interest—but changed my mind. Then, the Obama administration released a revised regulation on employer health services coverage for contraception that yielded further to the Catholic Church’s stance, while the Church, in some quarters, still objected; so, I saw good occasion again to dwell with the issue. The “rationality” of political Catholicism remains interesting, but… Now (yesterday), the Pope decides to retire, which may draw closure on an era of political ethics—further reason to shelve the issue.

But a Voice of America article had the header “Pope Benedict Places His Imprint on Catholic Church,” which is such an understatement it makes me giggle, recalling a context far more interesting than Catholic problems with contraception: “God” (always in quote marks, for me) and evolution. The primordial Christian claim—truly a profound insight 19-or-so centuries ago—is that all persons are created in the “image” of God. Now, we know that we are all results of evolution. The Church has had great difficulty living with this, yet it’s fascinating to see how it has come to do so.