Archive for May, 2014

Philosophy as Astonishment

Another observation by Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, as reported in this piece.

Since Kant, [Mehdi Belhaj Kacem] says, the philosopher has always been affiliated with the university, which has meant that the guardianship of the crucial human activity of prompting“ astonishment at that which no one had thought to be astonished before” is in the hands of the least astonished kind of people around, the “professionals of profession.”

You know, I couldn’t agree more. “Professional” philosophy has, for the most part, domesticated philosophy, enervated philosophy, cheapened philosophy, and practically killed philosophy – in just the sense the MBK means it.

I’m not familiar, actually, with MBK’s work (and I find Badiou, whom MBK is critcizing, to be too opaque for me to grasp), so I don’t know if there is anything here of a positive program to revivify philosophy, whether there are any resources in MBK’s work that take philosophy is a better direction than Badiou. But at least this intuition of MBK is right on.

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Philosophers are…

Dicks, usually. But that doesn’t mean we consider what they have to say.

Dismissing a philosopher’s entire system on the basis of his personal conduct is generally a foolish way to go, simply because very few philosophers weren’t world-historical dicks

[e.g., “Althusser strangled his wife, Schopenhauer assaulted his neighbors, Heidegger was a Nazi, Paul de Man was also a Nazi, etc., etc.”]

Read more about Mehdi Belhaj Kacem dissing of his former mentor, Alain Badiou…if you care about this sort of thing. Me? I just liked the pull-quote.

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Philosophizing for a good chunk of the day

The Maverick Philosopher definitively answers the question, “How much time should we spend on philosophy?”: “A good chunk of the day.”

In fact, he gives us one of the most succinct (“brevity is the soul of blog,” he says) defenses of the philosophical life that one is likely to find. To summarize: it’s fun, it’s humanizing, it is a bulwark against bullshit, and it can be a spiritual practice. Right on all accounts, as far as I’m concerned. Read more and also the first part of this argument.

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John D. Caputo – Apocalyptic Nihilism: Framing the Present

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