Tuesday, 17 January 2006
Monday, 16 January 2006
The bridge [Martin Heidegger tells us] . . . does not just connect banks that are already there. The banks emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the stream. The bridge expressly causes them to lie across from each other. One side is set off against the other by the bridge. Nor do the banks stretch along the stream as indifferent border strips of the dry land. With the banks, the bridge brings to the stream the one and the other expanse of the landscape lying behind them. It brings stream and bank and land into each other’s neighbourhood. The bridge gathers the earth as landscape around the stream. A thought so absurd as this could occur only to a man who has nothing left to say, but who, for the sake of his upkeep, has to say something nonsensical that will provoke amongst his acolytes a solicitous interpretation that takes such sayings as tokens of a profound understanding.
In the genealogy of pseudo-philosophic hogwash, Professor Heidegger stands out as an unhinged and fecund ancestor to the vacuity and decrepitude of certain strains of modern intellectual life. If, for instance, you feign to agree that “[w]hen Dasein does not exist, ‘independence’ ‘is’ not either, nor ‘is’ the ‘in-itself’” , then most likely you stand as an intellectual scion of this sorely afflicted line, a defender of the great shyster’s claim that “[m]aking itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy”. 
For anyone who has not given up sense in favour of a faddish and craven pretension, however, the works of Professor Heidegger provide an almost inexhaustible source for wonder at how such hogwash might pass for philosophy. Consider, for instance, the following:
We also catch sight of the nature of nearness. The thing things. In thinging, it stays earth and sky, divinities and morals. Staying, the thing brings the four, in their remoteness, near to one another. This bringing-near is nearing. Nearing is the presencing of nearness. Nearness brings the near—draws nigh to one another—the far and, indeed, as the far. Nearness preserves farness. Preserving farness, nearness presences nearness in nearing that farness. Bringing near in this way, nearness conceals its own self and remains, in its own way, nearest of all. Hereafter, for all that might be said against Heidegger’s philosophy, let no man deny the existence of German comedy!
 Martin Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking”, in Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings, ed. and tr. D. F. Krell, (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 354, original emphasis.
 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, tr. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson, (New York: Harper, 1962), p. 255.
 Martin Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning), tr. P. Enad & K. Maly (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999), p. 307.
 Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, tr. A. Hofstadter (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), pp.177-178, original emphasis.
Wednesday, 11 January 2006
Monday, 9 January 2006
Faith, which often divides the world into good and evil, can lead to violence. The antithesis of faith - free thought, scepticism and doubt - does not.Francis King, Letter to The Guardian, 9th January 2006.
 see The Letters of Jacob Burckhardt, tr. and ed. By Alexander Dru (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001)
Friday, 6 January 2006
Sir: The fact that affluent white men such as Anthony Browne can so easily get their absurd and unsupported arguments published suggests that political correctness has not gone nearly “mad” enough.Ruth Kelly, Letter to The Independent, 6th January 2006.
Thursday, 5 January 2006
Accordingly, this nihilistic revolt has no end in sight, no wish to replace falsehoods with facts, or ugliness with beauty, or wrong with right, or misery with happiness, or worse with better, nor even a wish to preserve what goods we might have; it seeks only a “permanent crisis” and a “continuous subversion”  in all areas of life:
What makes sense today [opines Dr Kristeva] is not the future (as communism and providential religions claimed) but revolt: that is, the questioning and displacement of the past. The future, if it exists, depends on it. . . .
. . . In counterpoint to certainties and beliefs, permanent revolt is this putting into question of the self, of everything and nothingness, which clearly no longer has a place. . . .
. . . The permanence of contradiction, the temporariness of reconciliation, the bringing to the fore of everything that puts the very possibility of unitary meaning to the test . . .: these are what the culture of revolt explores. 
it is not exclusively in the world of action that this revolt is realized but in that of psychical life and its social manifestations (writing, thought, art) . . . Yet as a transformation of man’s relationship to meaning this cultural revolt intrinsically concerns public life and consequently has profoundly political implications. In fact, it poses the question of another politics, that of permanent conflictuality. This new kind of revolutionary action, a permanent “questioning” of all aspects of life, that ostensibly seeks no final establishment of its ideals, that would like to remain wholly and for ever irresponsible and in revolt against authority, marks apparently a split with the old. Yet one might surmise that Dr Kristeva describes what was always a crucial psychical aspect of many a socialist-revolutionary of old: namely, that a great deal of the motivating force for his revolutionary action was the will to destroy rather than to build—or in other words, to some extent the means was the end. Nevertheless, having expressly made permanent revolt into an ideal and end in itself, Dr Kristeva speaks directly to that pathetic irresponsibility and pointless destructiveness that marks the worst kind of adolescence—and in our times, she has the gratifying prospect of reaching a very large audience indeed.
 Julia Kristeva, “Intimate Revolt: The Future of the Culture of Revolt, The Life of the Mind, and the Species”, International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Vol 3:1, January, 2006.
 Julia Kristeva, Revolt, She Said: An Interview By Philippe Petit. Ed., Sylvere Lotringer (New York: Semiotext(e), 2002.) p. 42.
 Julia Kristeva, “Intimate Revolt”.
Wednesday, 4 January 2006
Tuesday, 3 January 2006
(a) “nothing exists”; (b) “even if it exists it is inapprehensible to man”; (c) “even if it is apprehensible, still it is without a doubt incapable of being expressed or explained to the next man.”
Cited by Sextus Empiricus, Against the Schoolmasters, VII, 65, in The Older Sophists, ed. Rosamond Kent Sprague (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1972), p. 42.
The chances that our brain experiences resemble some mind-independent truth are remote at best, and those who would claim otherwise must surely explain the miracle.The chances that this statement resembles some mind-independent truth are—by its own lights—remote at best, and the author must surely explain the miracle of knowing it.
Donald Hoffman, “A Spoon is like a Headache”, The Edge Annual Question — 2006: What is Your Dangerous Idea? Edge, 1st January 2006.
Tuesday, 20 December 2005
Friday, 16 December 2005
Tuesday, 13 December 2005
My world view . . . is not like that of many people with whom I have either close or distant relationships or acquaintanceships. It begins with a deliberate movement by me to agree to conception, and travels and weaves through the lives and deaths of others near and far, leading ultimately to my own ending which will take place with my full agreement. I do not mean to suggest that I know the time or the how, only that I am sure that life will require my agreement to leave as it did to arrive.
Khyla Russell, “Movements”, Junctures, Vol 4, June 2005.
Monday, 12 December 2005
Friday, 9 December 2005
Say: I am real, this is real, the world is real, and nobody laughs. But say: this is a simulacrum, you are only a simulacrum, this war is a simulacrum, and everybody bursts out laughing. With a condescending and yellow laughter, or perhaps a convulsive one, as if it was a childish joke or an obscene invitation. . . . Truth is what should be laughed at. One may dream of a culture where everyone bursts into laughter when someone says: this is true, this is real. 
This thought wants to be illusion, restituting non-veracity to the facts, non-signification to the world, and formulating the reverse hypothesis that there may be nothing rather than something, tracking down this nothingness which runs under the apparent continuation of meaning. 
 Jean Baudrillard, “La Pensee Radicale”.