Empty Days

Tuesday, June 22, 2004



Fear and Thought.

I re-read parts of my blog (the ones seemingly forgotten) but everywhere I find the same ideas replayed over and over again, in various shape and depth. I observe the timidity of my thought - in that I do not dare to pursue further and arrive at a definitive expression, let alone put it all together. I do not dare to uncover my system or think it through.

This in itself is not a judgement of rank ("great philosophers") but rather a meditation on how I operate and what I have to hide. Why I need to purposefully devalue my thinking - turn away when I could go further and deeper. It's not mere laziness. Always, apparent laziness is a sign of fear and inhibition.

***

Philosophy as practiced in your own life is very far removed from considerations of fame and rank. It is an important and essentially unavoidable activity, aimed at constituting oneself as a personality inside the world - and this is where fear interrupts. Because it implies taking on the world - standing up to it in what you think is important to who you are.

Why would I meditate otherwise on subjects such as the centrality of Holocaust to the current representation of WWII - or the true sources of racism? Why would it matter to me if not because these ideas somehow define me against my reality and my sense of truth?

Every time I think of Houellebecq - I think: "thank God for this fearless man".
Every time I think of Nietzsche - I think: "thank God he dared to so think."
Every time I read Plato - I think: "who else would have meditated so fully."

And quite outside of big names I always find myself feeling deeply grateful when I get to read something that makes sense and is important. People who dare to think are like lights in a great darkness of unthinking human submission.

***

The question of error is something different. What is error? What is truth? What is "objective"? Is Plato objective - is he true or is he in error? It doesn't make sense to so ask. However, it makes sense to look at where his system might encroach on your own - and this in itself uncovers what you hold true, your system.

It is dubious that one can think in a variety of ways and a variety of systems - this is the way of the machine. Human systems are organic. Thought is organic and thus reductive and limited. You may vary in opinion and expression but you will never be able to "replace" your make-up. Personality is an organic continuum and so is thought - your system of thought.

And that is where you may and will err - by becoming submissive to other bigger systems, by losing your native truth and professing as yours what you do not really "believe" in. That happens all the time. And is always uncovered, unless you remain unthinking.

The way of thought is to uncover your true system - pull your personality out of its servitude to the looming world. And that applies even to Kant (the supposedly scientific/objective mind), or Hegel, or Spinoza, or whoever of the same seemingly "objective" method.

***

Could we talk of "science" (and thus "objectivity") in philosophy?

Human sciences are human for a reason - the objectivity is only seeming, and is deeply and firstly organic. And thus not objective at all. Once you take on the world, you become scientific almost out of necessity, you look for a method to find your way out - because you encounter the great multiplicity of "objective" systems that are all somehow interwoven, powerfully rigged descriptions that constitute the legacy of all that has passed - the fact that the world is a history of ideas.

Commenting on the history of ideas (for this is precisely how philosophy is generally known) and struggling to make your own sense out of this history are two very different and perhaps vastly opposed things. The boldness required in the latter case is hard to underestimate - and this boldness is what forms intelligence, rather than the other way around.

"Critical thinking" is often devious - because it only pretends to be critical while remaining fully subservient to the world of established ideas. Such "critical thinking" is nothing but joggling, a performance of erudition, not true thought.

It is hard to under-estimate the great fear that impedes thought.

History of ideas is what makes human world - a social world - it forms the mind and shapes personality. Ideally, it desires you to stay well-formed and accept, accept, accept. Standing up to this and finding your actual bearings - "admiting to what you don't know" - is an act of rebellion.

I declare fear.





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