Archive for November, 2013

(2) By the law of excluded middle, either ‘A is B’ or ‘A is not B’ must be true. Hence either ‘the present King of France is bald’ or ‘the present King of France is not bald’ must be true. Yet if we enumerated the things that are bald, and then the things that are not bald, we should not find the present King of France in either list. Hegelians, who love a synthesis, will probably conclude that he wears a wig.” Russell (B.), “On Denoting” In: Mind, New Series, Vol. 14, No. 56 (Oct., 1905), p. 485.

Doctor B. ain’t liking Hegel’s dissing on formal logic and the dialectical logic on the meta level!

One should add the comical role of being-there-just-to-prove-that-one-is-not-an-idealist role invented by Kant […] things are there but play no role except that of mute guardians holding the sign. We deny that we deny the existence of an outside reality. Quite a function well worth hapless ‘things in themselves’.” B. Latour – “The promises of constructivism” In: Chasing Technoscience: Matrix of Materiality, Don Idhe (ed.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2003, p. 32.

Kant, dat bitch of Latour!

Manifest and Latent Racism (3)

Posted: November 28, 2013 in Society
Tags: , ,

Every day is a new day full of absolutely crazy remarks about race and religion. Whenever I complain about these issues I say for example “today there were six arrogant bastards who said this and that”.  I never draw any generalising conclusion from this. I’ve never said that all the white middle class people in Belgium (or Flanders) are racist fuckheads. Not only harsh and unfounded words, but also the easy jump from particulars to large groups of people is a crucial part of racism.

Everybody around me agrees that the remarks I hear every day are insane. At the same time, in multiple occasions the same people will draw from one (!) comment by a muslim a conclusion about the whole of Islam and all its participants. They don’t seem to notice their own change of words.

“Person X said this, therefore, they are all this and that.”

Why can’t we talk about the sexist fuckhead with the beard in the same way as we talk about the racist fuckhead with his gnome in his front yard? In a situation with muslims or blacks, there seems this automatic generalisation. As if they’re all the same anyway, right?

Philosophical, true idealism consists in nothing else but laying down that the truth about things is that as such immediately single, i.e., sensuous  things, they are only a show, an appearance (Schein). […] [N]ot even the animals are so stupid as these metaphysicians; for they go after things, seize and consume them.” Hegel – Philosophy of Nature. In: Hegel, The Essential Writings, Weiss (F.G.) (ed.), p. 205.

Oh Snap!

The song has been online for a while and helped me waking up the past few weeks!

Well done Klemen Slakonja!

The Zeitgeist Movement is an organization with a progressive message. Even though I consider myself a progressive, there are multiple things in the Zeitgeist Movement that I don’t appreciate. Or let me be plain from the start: it stinks. In order to keep this post nice and clean, I’ll simply discuss their mission statement on the international and Belgian website. There is much more madness elsewhere, but even this post is a waste of time… (“Haters gonna hate“, but equally important believers gonna belief).

Firstly, the movement is more than a loose group of people. They are doing their utmost best to organize themselves and spread their message. Thus, the word “organization” seems a better fit. This isn’t only a matter of semantics. They explicitly claim not to be a political organization. The first sentence on the Belgian websites states “The Zeitgeist Movement is not a political movement.” Yet, they clearly have an ideology and work with structures similar to international political organizations.

Secondly, they have a clear enemy, namely, the current social structure. On the website you can read:

The Movement recognizes that issues such as poverty, corruption, collapse, homelessness, war, starvation and the like appear to be ‘Symptoms’ born out of an outdated social structure.

But what is this outdated social structure like? They refuse to use nationalities, classes and other categories, but even if these are abolished in their ultimate dream world, these categories still have a function in the analysis of the current world. Besides, how should we talk about this social structure if we can’t make any distinctions between groups of people? And, if we do make such groups, what should they be based on? And, where does this social structure come from?

The third and most problematic point for me is the rejection of politics and the complete belief in science and technology.  As if the study of science and technology won’t need anymore political decision-making. The website says:

“[…] the defining goal here is the installation of a new socioeconomic model based upon technically responsible Resource Management, Allocation and Distribution through what would be considered The Scientific Method of reasoning problems and finding optimized solutions. This “Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy” is about taking a direct technical approach to social management as opposed to a Monetary or even Political one. It is about updating the workings of society to the most advanced and proven methods Science has to offer […]”

Whenever a movement has a clear political ideology and programme, but refuses the concept of politics and is confident that decision-making don’t need politics, I feel a little shiver. It reminds me of the vile interpretations and terrible implementations of marxism with the ridicules use of the word “objective“. On the Belgian website they literally claim that their ideas don’t need a “subjective interpretation“. The world is clear, straightforward and simple. And, surprise surprise, the Zeitgeist Movement owns the Truth of how to organize the social structure.

Truth isn’t here something that you search and work for in dialog and struggle with others. Truth becomes something eternal, external and in the hands of the Movement. With these characteristics you can crush every opposition. Every action by men is condoned by the Truth out there. It’s fundamentalism at its purest form.

I could discuss their specific views on ethics, psychology and other topics, but in general, they are obviously lacking basic knowledge of political philosophy (in its broadest sense). Some “new” ideas are hundreds years old. But, more importantly, they are often extremely naive and simplistic. Those ideas have been criticized, improved and edited in the past. Unfortunately the Zeitgeist Movement hasn’t payed any attention to this. For example, the idea that we shouldn’t blame individual bankers and CEOs, but the structure of our economy and society as such. Yet, unlike Marx and others, they haven’t made a thorough analysis of this current structure. Or the Rousseauian naivety about the blank slate newborns, thrown  out on the internet in the most un-nuanced and ridiculous way. The Zeigeist Movement might be interesting to motivate 15 year olds. But I hope that they will quickly move to more serious things.

Ultimately, the Zeitgeist Movement is an ideology, it’s politics. Ignoring this clears the way for fundamentalism.

EDIT: “We have to stop delegating decision-making to people and delegate decision-making to a process of rational thought.” – Peter Joseph on TYT.

EDIT: The same comments in a youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTClaNxBkvM

The past few days I’ve been reading Hegel. The Essential Writings (ed. F.G. Weiss). During the years at my university, I only once read a piece of Hegel. It was his introduction to the History of Philosophy. It’s about 3 years ago now. But I remember thinking that it was pretty tough to understand, but if you take your time the system Hegel is building becomes clear. The only question I had: Why are you building this system? What question are you answering and what (external) arguments in favor of this system can you give?

I won’t answer these questions today. I haven’t finished the book yet and might write some really silly things. Anyway, there is one thing I would like to share. Hegel is quite scanty with quotes, but here is a lovely one situated around the discussion of analysis in empiricism:

If you want to describe life and gather its meaning,
To drive out its spirit must be your beginning,
Then though fast in your hand lie the parts one by one
The spirit that linked them, alas is gone
And ‘Nature’s Laboratory’ is only a name
That the chemist bestows on’t to hide his own shame.

(Faust, part I, sc. 4. And page 143 in Hegel. The Essential Writings).

It reminds me of a former philosophy professor of mine who was also a psychoanalyst. Every class she repeated the same sentence “You can saw a tree to pulp, but it won’t tell you anything about the tree.