29 May 2017

Subverting mathematized science's hegemony

Galileo Galilei famously  pronounced, "il grandissimo libro della natura è scritto in lingua matematica" ('the grand book of nature is written in mathematical language', Opere Il Saggiatore 1623). This pronouncement goes along with an affirmation of the experimental scientific method, according to which the phenomena appearing to the senses are to be made measurable and measured. This dogma of mathematico-empirical scientific method has long since become the self-evident common sense of our Modern Age, as if it were incontrovertibly true. Even those hanging onto faith today tend to want to put their bets both ways. In truth, however, mathematico-empirical scientific method is an historical hermeneutic casting of an age pronouncing AS what beings AS such are to present themselves to the human mind. This hermeneutic AS is everywhere denied by science, today's hegemonic analytic philosophy and common sense, by the former two mostly with overweening hubris. It is conveniently skipped over in favour of relying on the supposed 'naked facts' themselves in the presupposed external 'objective' world registered by the presupposed interior, 'subjective' consciousness with the aid of its elaborate experimental apparatuses.

One consequence of this hermeneutic cast is that it can only be read properly in mathematical language. Those who cannot read this language are forever at one remove, and therefore treated with much condescension and arrogance by those scientists in the know. Those who do not unquestionably go along with mathematized science's absolute pretensions to effective, efficient power — most often via its technologies and whilst incessantly peddling its great usefulness and benefits for humankind — but rather seek to radically dispute the tunnel vision of this totalizing hermeneutic cast, are called on to themselves become infiltrating guerillas by learning mathematical language with critical, subversive hermeneutic intent.

12 May 2017

Hegel's speculative thinking

Response to an analytic philosopher with a liking for Hegel

Hegel's diagnosis of, or verdict on, English and Scottish philosophy in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, pronouncing it to be "unspeculative", seems to me to hit the nail on the head, carrying over mutatis mutandis to today's analytic philosophy, whose raison d'être is to keep the lid on speculation. Hegel employs the term Spekulation in its traditional sense as a rendering of Greek-Aristotelean _theoria_, i.e. _protae philosophia_ in the genuine sense of an investigation into _to on haei on_, i.e. into beings insofar they are beings, beings qua beings or beings AS beings. The AS stands for the famous apophantic AS in the sense of all _legein_ (saying) being a _legein ti kata tinos_, i.e. addressing something AS such-and-such. This original Aristotelean metaphysics is thus ontology investigating the AS specifying the difference between beings and their very being. Analytic philosophy is blind and hostilely resistant to this so-called ontological difference.

My own major points of orientation among Modern Age thinkers, from whom I have learned decisively, are Marx, Hegel and Heidegger, each of whom, in turn, is deeply indebted to Aristotle, each in his own way. Each of these thinkers go back, not forward, to re-vise, to re-see, for going back is the true task for today's thinkers so as to recast our deepest preconceptions. The last modern thinker named, Heidegger, is the one who delves most interrogatingly into Aristotle, unearthing the most hidden, tacit presuppositions of his thinking, most crucially, how Aristotle and Plato et al. tacitly understood, and thus preconceived, what was meant by 'being' itself. Being has a temporal sense; it means time, but not merely traditional one-dimensional, linear, counted clock-time! Hence Heidegger is also the most radical of the three, and these three are more questioning and radical than, say, Kant or Leibniz or Descartes, three more greats who worked 'going forward' on the Modern Age's cast of being with Kant arguably consummating it. Kant therefore is ubiquitously loved, for he repeats and reproduces every prejudice of the Modern Age's thinking and is thus compatible also with the modern sciences with their 'self-evident' preconception of a distinction between subjective consciousness inside and an objective world independent of consciousness outside. In his long engagement with and critique of Kant's subjective idealism, Hegel is the first thinker to undertake a philosophical healing of this inside/outside split. For me, this apparently 'self-evident' preconception is a pernicious delusion cast on all present-day thinking.

From Hegel I learned first of all how to think in a dialectical-speculative manner, which is the hallmark of his thinking vis-à-vis mere Verstehen (understanding) or Raissonieren (rationalizing). The 'speculative' refers to the dimension of the AS that opens up genuine philosophy, starting with Plato's _idea_. The 'dialectical' refers to how genuinely philosophical concepts can be thought through in a connected way. I think Hegel learned his dialectical thinking from studying Plato's Sophist and his Parmenides.
In contrast to Schelling, Hegel did not think that the articulations of understanding, with which analytic philosophers are typically at home, could be by-passed by any immediate, intuitive insight into truths. Hegel's dialectical-speculative Vernunft (reason) is anything but "intuitive", i.e. a mere direct 'looking-at' (Anschauung), but rather a connected (dia-lectical) thinking through all the ontological categories beyond what Aristotle lay down with his own categories and his three other senses of being: being as truth (_alaetheuein_), being as movement (_kinaesis_), being as in itself or accidentally (_kath auto vs. kata symbebaekos_). Plato did not see clearly this fourfold analogical branching of modes of being, but stuck pretty much to _genae_ (genera) which he treated like categories. For all his dialectical penetration, I don't think Hegel plumbed the depths of subtlety or the greatness of the achievement of Aristotle's ontology of productive movement. The question concerning _kinaesis_, i.e. how movement can be seen at all, is at the heart of Greek philosophy from the outset, starting with Parmenides, and Aristotle brings this questioning to its ancient Greek consummation. How could an analytic philosopher understand Aristotle's repeated claim that _kinaesis chalepaen idein_, "movement is hard to see"? Given that analytic philosophers in general treat Aristotle patronizingly as superseded, wouldn't he merely quip that Aristotle is off his rocker?

Hegel's Logik attempts for the first time in the history of Western thinking a thorough-going ontology of the entire structure of the world, from which much can be learned (and much criticized). Speculative logic is per se ontological. By discovering that being basically means originary 3D-time (not merely one-dimensional, linear time), however, Heidegger has the lever to pry the metaphysical tradition out of its millennia-old rut and to think again. With this goes hand in hand a deepening of the apophantic AS, which still resides in _logoi_; Heidegger goes deeper, to the pre-logical, pre-conceptual, preconceiving hermeneutic AS, through which the world shapes up and presents itself in its respective historical hermeneutic cast that is lived out in any given age AS tacit, 'self-evident' preconceptions that are very hard to uncover, dislodge and shake off. This does not render Heidegger's thinking "quasi-intuitive" but more simply phenomenological (or 'phenomenophatic', from _phasis_, 'saying') in being open to seeing the phenomena in their simple self-presenting and self-presencing. One need not resort to any kind of Urgrund, like Schelling does; what is hardest to see is completely everyday, quotidian.

My philosophical motivation from the outset was the question concerning the possibility of freedom in living together socially on the Earth. I have come to the insight that freedom is a kind of freedom of movement in the sense of a mutually estimating, esteeming, valuating interplay. I came to this concept of interplay eventually after spending years thinking through Marx's (deeply Hegelian) dialectic of the value-form, since (reified) value as the pivotal, all-supporting concept of Marx's late thinking, is itself a kind of
estimating interplay and hence a kind of (social, sociating) movement. This kind of movement, however, fits ill with Aristotle's ontology of movement encapsulated in the triad, _dynamis, energeia, entelecheia_ for the latter captures only productive movement emanating from a single controlling _archae_, i.e _dynamis_ conceived AS _archae kinaeseos_, i.e. governing starting-point for a change in something else. The ontology of estimating interplay, an interplay of two or more _dynameis_ (powers), by contrast, is more complex than one-dimensional, productive, efficient movement proceeding in parallel to the so-called 'arrow of time' from an effecting _dynamis_. Neither Aristotle nor Hegel nor Marx nor Heidegger got so far as to see philosophically, i.e. ontologically, this sociating kind of movement, an interplay that is literally an interplay of powers that eludes effective, efficient control by any sort of know-how or knowledge.

The analytic philosopher with a liking for Hegel did not like my response, no reasons given. Like other analytic philosophers, he suffers from the ism-itis that plagues this kind of philosophizing, which is invariably a power game, a Glasperlenspiel, of 'arguments', 'positions' and 'moves' for or against one ism or other. That is, when it does boil down to one's idiosyncratic likings and dislikings, i.e. to mere felt _doxa_.