17 February 2018

The idea of Universal Basic Income

The proposal of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a response to jobs 'running out' due to algorithmic automation and as a 'final solution' to poverty has become popular in some quarters leftward of political centre.

But does the UBI not display the Usual Bovine Ignorance about the nature of freedom? The phenomenon of freedom can only be disclosed by a thinking that has not cut off its access to the ontological difference that has nurtured Western thinking from its Greek origins on. In particular, as a social ontology shows, the phenomenon of freedom includes the striving for each individual to find and adopt his or her self in a reflection from its world of existential possibilities. Through this self-reflection afforded by the esteem of others, the self gains its own self-esteem — its stand and standing as somewho in the world.

Not only would a Universal Basic Income not address the need and desire for self-esteem, but, like the idea of the welfare state as a whole, would only further undermine the self-esteem of those needing encouragement most of all. Siphoning the poor off into the pool of social losers with misplaced compassion. Whereas, given encouragement, there is no end to what people can do for each other, each within the limits of their own abilities, whatever they may be, hence deriving their self-esteem and self-standing.

UBI seems to be not such a good idea, after all. And that already due to the Usual Bovine Ignorance about the nature of ideas themselves. An idea, namely, is the 'look' a phenomenon presents of itself in the difference between being and beings. Our times pay dearly for the lack of a phenomenology of freedom — and hardly a glimmer on the horizon. Positivist thinking of all shades is consolidating from generation to generation; the ability to think philosophically from the ontological difference is silently, painlessly dying.

CC to CC.

Further reading: Social Ontology

27 December 2017

Electrifying messages

McLuhan's "electric age" raises the question as to how the medium of electricity affects the message. The electric age was a long time coming, starting, perhaps, with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein at the beginning of the 19th century, once the electrons started to flow as electric current, instead of just being stored up statically as a positive electric charge (i.e. lacking electrons with negative charge) in ἤλεκτρον (amber) by rubbing the amber that could be discharged with a mighty spark, about which the Greeks already knew, not to mention Zeus' lightning bolts. Then in the early-to-mid-19th century came Faraday's experimenting and Maxwell's field equations for electromagnetism that enabled the reciprocating dance between the flow of electrons and magnetic force-field to be mathematized in four neat equations. Along with that, on the technological side, the invention of the telegraph (literally: far-writing) for sending Morse-coded electron messages along wires to write in far-off places revolutionized communications. Here the speed of the medium had a huge effect on messaging; the world grew smaller through having electrons assuming the wings of Hermes. Even the swiftest horses could not compete.

Excitation of the electrons took off with the incandescent lamp, with electrons emitting pure bearers of light-energy (photons) on becoming mightily excited in a wire enclosed in glass along with an inert gas. Then, instead of sending little electron messages along wire, there came the invention of the radio, which wirelessly and concentrically sent out (trans-mitted) messages as electromagnetic signals that could be deciphered at the other end by a radio receiver. For such messaging, Claude Shannon later developed the necessary mathematics for technologically managing signal-loss through electromagnetic noise.
Radio transmission accelerated and contracted the world still further, tying a mass public into its messages in a way that exceeded the massifying of society already accomplished by newspapers, which themselves emerged as a powerful medium in the early 19th century. 

The electromagnetic medium has engendered a yet more massified, fake togetherness. Today, anonymous 'people' have long since become the ubiquitous, constantly addressed 'subject' of the mass-media age, whose massified opinions matter solely in anonymous, massified form, as in 'People think this...', or 'They do that...' or the ubiquitous fake 'we' of democracy, as in 'What are we to do about ...?' The ongoing discussion of fake news enabled by cyberworld platforms leaves entirely out of account the fakeness of the 'we' in 'our' democratic societies, which the media's talking heads are loath to even mention for fear of offending their mass audiences. Do I hear the word 'sycophancy'?

To come now to music: in the first half of the 20th century, along with inventors from the U.S. radio and electronics industry, Les Paul experimented with electrifying the guitar, succeeding finally in making the first solid body electric guitar in the 1940s. Magnetized pick-ups positioned beneath the guitar's strings picked up their vibrational motion, thus inducing an electric current that was passed from the guitar along a wire to the amplifier. Boom! Electric music was born, exciting electrons for the sake of the musical human ear. This culminated in the 1950s in rock music, a prancing & dancing with electrons in which the electronic phenomena themselves became musical. It was not merely a case of amplifying volume, but of sui generis electro-acoustic phenomena attuning our shared psyche. Such sounds include the feedback, overdrive, distortion, flanging, phasing, fuzzing and wah-wah-ing of the electric guitar that has been rapidly mastered by outstanding guitarists within just a few decades. The energy of electrons was harnessed for powerful acoustic experience in stadium concerts and also recorded on wax, shellac, vinyl and finally digitized in CD and mp3 recordings. The code signalling how the electrons were to dance could be reproduced easily million-fold in these latter media.  

Electrons came to be bearers of musical messages setting the times' moods into vibration, thus attuning us to the world in a way different from lute, cello, flute and harpsichord. If the stately classical music of courtly times had given way in Europe to the more dynamic movements of horses after the French Revolution (cf. e.g. Beethoven), in the 20th century the electronic media came to dominate the musical messaging, just as communication in general became electronically massified. The electronic medium itself gives us the message of electrification, culminating in today's digitization of the world in which not only our age's mind is quickly adapting to algorithmic entrapment, but also to which our age's psyche has rapidly become more and more musically attuned.

Further reading: Thinking of Music, The Digital Cast of Being, Rafael Capurro's 'Angeletics Notes'.

11 November 2017


 The future of algorithmic translation?

Baude leer.

looking for
bawdy lair.

à la recherche du

09 November 2017



abgerichtete hunde
ängstigen sich

verlangen mutlos
nach menschengerechter

23 July 2017

Focus / Fokus

The focus is the burning-point,
where the phenomena catch fire
in the mind's eye,
bursting into clear light.
The focus is where the mind is at home.

For a long time the mind has not been home.
It no longer catches fire at the sight of the phenomena.
It has lost its focus.


Der Fokus ist der Brennpunkt,
wo die Phänomene
im geistigen Auge entbrennen
und ins klare Licht hervorbrechen.
Der Fokus, wo der Geist zu Hause ist.

Seit langem ist der Geist nicht mehr daheim.
Er entbrennt nicht mehr im Anblick der Phänomene.
Er hat seinen Fokus verloren.

14 July 2017

Zoran Đinđić - Das Kapital

Bei der Suche nach der 1981er Doktorarbeit Marx´ kritische Gesellschaftstheorie und das Problem der Begründung von Zoran Đinđić (als serbischer Premierminister 2003 in Belgrad ermordet) bin ich auf den folgenden Blogeintrag von Volkbert (Mike) Roth gestoßen: 8. - 12. April Djindic / Lebenskunst. Mike von der Uni. Konstanz hat mich 1976 als Gastdozent in General Philosophy an der Uni. Sydney in die Marxsche Kapital-Lektüre eingeführt. Im erwähnten Haus in der Konstanzer Alpenstr. 4 mit Ivo Glaser habe ich auch im Deutschen Herbst 1977 gewohnt. Zoran habe ich später auch ein paar Mal getroffen, als er von Frankfurt auf Besuch nach Konstanz kam.

Das Sydney-Konstanz Projekt mit dem Fokus auf Marx und Hegel (vor allem seiner Rechtsphilosophie) nahm seinen Anfang in dieser Zeit. Daraus ist meine Diss. 1984  entstanden, die bis heute für die Welt brachliegt. Darin ein Rekonstruktionsversuch des "Rohbaus" des Kapital Bde. I-III. sowie ein Versuch, über die Wesensanalyse kapitalistischen Wirtschaftens hinaus in den sog. "Überbau" weiter dialektisch hineinzudenken. Wie im Vorwort dieser Dissertation dargelegt war Marx' ursprünglicher Plan einer kritischen Theorie der kapitalistischen Gesellschaftsform viel, viel umfassender als das, was er selber durchführte bzw. durchführen konnte. Das Wort "-form" verweist unweigerlich auf die platonische Idee und Platons sog. 'Theorie der Formen', d.h. der Ideen. Die Ideen sind aber die 'Anblicke', die Seiendes von sich als Seiendes der Psyche apriori zeigen. Somit sind wir vom Anfang an im Kapital in der ontologischen Differenz drin, was freilich von 'materialistischen' Marxisten vehement geleugnet werden muß. Das Als nennt nichts anderes als die
ontologische Differenz selbst, wie sie in der aristotelischen Metaphysik formuliert wurde: eine Untersuchung von _to on haei on_, d.h. vom Seienden als Seiendem, d.h. von Seiendem, sofern es schlicht seiend und weiter nichts ist. Freilich gibt es mannigfache Seinsweisen. Nicht nur für Hegel und Heidegger war die Wiederentdeckung des Aristoteles entscheidend für ihr Denken, sondern auch — teils über Hegel, teils auch von sich aus — für Marx. Die berüchtigte und alles entscheidende Wertformanalyse im 1. Kapitel von Kapital Bd. I wäre ohne den entscheidenden Einfluß von Aristoteles Eth. Nic. Buch V über die Gerechtigkeit nicht denkbar. Die Wertform ist diejenige Idee, d.h. derjenige Anblick des Seienden als solchen, der es als wertvoll erscheinen läßt.

Das Kapital bietet also die allererste Ontologie kapitalistischen Wirtschaftens, die freilich eine Sozialontologie ist. Die Form (Idee) der Vergesellschaftung durch die Wertschätzung steht in Frage! Marx' Hauptwerk bzw. Hauptentwurf ist aber bis heute kaum als solche gelesen worden, sondern wurde sehr schnell — besonders durch Engels' popularisierende 'Hilfe' — als Historischer Materialismus positiviert, wo der Marxismus bis heute trotz Prager Frühlings und Neuer Linke steckengeblieben ist. Taube Ohren und blinde Augen, d.h. eine geteilte, verschlossene, vorurteilsgeladene Psyche, die sich mit ihrer kritischen, antikapitalistischen Haltung beruhigt, statt sich einem abgründigen Fragen auszusetzen, in dem erst wir Menschen Freiheit erfahren können.

Soweit es um die Gesundwerdung eines kranken Körpers geht, kannst du medizinische Hilfe durch einen Arzt aufsuchen, der dich als Patienten behandeln wird. Soweit es aber um die Gesundwerdung einer blinden Psyche geht, gibt es niemanden, der dich als Patienten behandeln könnte. Du mußt dich selber, d.h. wie du dich und damit auch die Welt verstehst, in Frage stellen und so den Boden unter den eigenen Füßen wegziehen, während du ein anderes Selbst- und Weltverständnis aus dem Abgrund gewinnst und so wieder zum Stehen kommst! Auch wenn ein weiser, hilfreicher Lehrer dir eventuell eine Richtung zeigen kann, ist dein Sehenlernen deine eigene nicht nur anstrengende, sondern auch Mut erfordernde Arbeit.

Vertiefende Lektüre: Critique of competitive freedom and the bourgeois-democratic state, Kapital und Technik und Social Ontology.

06 July 2017

Was Pythagoras an anti-Semite?

Breaking news:

Archaeologists flying buzzard-drones over the desert in the environs of Alexandria in Egypt have discovered new Greek papyri which, they claim, are the first to be securely identified as stemming directly from Pythagoras himself (6th century BCE) or his school. The spectacular find has a disturbing feature, however. It brings the numeral 7 into connection with a saying common in Kroton at the time used to curse the Jews, to the effect of telling them to go to Hades seven times. Leading figures from the New York intellectual scene are out of countenance about these new revelations about Pythagoras' anti-Semitic views.

Columbia University has set up a committee to investigate the implications of Pythagoras' thinking being anti-Semitically infected. Some professors are already calling for Pythagoras' teachings to be banned. A close re-examination of Pythagoras' theorem itself is already underway. This famous theorem about the squares of the sides of a right-angled triangle may itself have anti-Semitic connotations. The Professor of Pure Mathematics at Göttingen University has pointed out that a right-angled isosceles triangle is already one half of the six-pointed Israelite star, and that halving was attributed to femininity rather than the stalwart, indivisibly phallic one.

The consequences of this anti-Semitism hidden in Pythagoras' theorem are immeasurable, not to say, mind-boggling, since the theorem is an elementary building block not only for all geometry. Trigonometry, differential calculus, n-dimensional linear vector spaces, topology, Riemann manifolds are just a few of the innumerable areas of today's mathematics that rely on Pythagoras' theorem. Without these branches of mathematics, in turn, there would be no Newtonian laws of motion, no Maxwellian laws of electro-magnetism, no Einsteinian relativity theory, no Heisenbergian quantum mechanics. In short, the scientific foundations of the West would collapse.

Nevertheless, there are vociferous cries from many quarters demanding that the West make a clean break with Pythagorean thinking, thus disinfecting the anti-Semitism contaminating the roots of Western thought. One political scientist has proposed that Pythagoras' theorem be treated as a literary form rather than as mathematics. Some passengers have already started refusing to board aircraft and trains, and numerous instances of abandoned cars with notes of moral disgust stuck on their windscreens have been reported. Subscribers are cancelling contracts with their internet service providers. Despite these alarming nascent disruptions to our technological way of life, ethicists are calling for the moral high ground to be reclaimed, no matter what the cost. The West, they assert, cannot afford to be associated with Pythagoras, who has now turned out to have been unmasked as a proto-Nazi.

From the other side, many reputable scientists are calling for calm, pointing out that the wondrous efficiency and efficacy of modern techno-science are great achievements whose neutrality is evidenced by the fact that even most Jews living today have embraced technology. They warn against throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Note: This blog post must be read as a continuation of my recent cycle of posts, starting with Russell & Heidegger.