December 12, 2008

To think is to be affected by one's own receptiveness and experience

Part IV: Alyosha and Zarathustra on Com-passion and a Genuine Embodied Life
from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen

Even if one became convinced of this interpretation, as Williams points out, it still leaves us with the nagging question of how exactly the claims of faith connect with the “ensemble of facts” of this world? In other words, do Christ’s claim (the claims of faith) merely have the power to transform a person’s individual, moral “inner space” while leaving the world at large-whether the claims of science, the “facts” of history or the moral chaos and injustice so prevalent in the world-untouched? Questions like these take us immediately to the famous “Grand Inquisitor,” section of Brothers Karamazov, to which we now turn.

The Multitudo that Inheres to the Power of Thought as Such
from Fido the Yak by Fido the Yak
Agamben says, in Form of Life:

I call thought the nexus that constitutes the forms of life in an inseparable context as form-of-life. I do not mean by this the individual exercise of an organ of a psychic faculty, but rather an experience, an experimentum that has as its object the potential character of life and of human intelligence. To think does not mean merely to be affected by this or that thing, by this or that content of enacted thought, but rather at once to be affected by one's own receptiveness and experience in each and every thing that is thought a pure power of thinking. ("When thought has become each thing in the way in which a man who actually knows is said to do so. . . its condition is still one of potentiality. . . and thought is then able to think of itself.")

Rancière comments, "Lyotard contends that the task of the avant-garde is to isolate art from cultural demand so that it may testify all the more starkly to the heteronomy of thought" (The Aesthetic Revolution and its Outcomes: Emplotments of Autonomy and Heteronomy, p. 134).

Improbably the plus one, as in "infinity plus one," will be revealed as something other than thought.

New Year Classroom Resolutions from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

The point here is not that philosophers are always right or that they can never be mistaken. Rather, the idea behind this foreclosure of words like “opinion” and “perception” and their replacement by terms like “argument” and “claim”, is to draw student attention to supporting reasons for claims or how thinkers arrive at claims. In other words, one does not argue against a position by setting another position beside it like too books on a bookcase, but instead strives to demonstrate the presence of contradictions, false premises, invalid or weak arguments, etc.

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