April 08, 2009

Daring once again to think our present or what is vital and living in that present

The End of Philosophy?
from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects
This morning I had a rather disturbing thought from the standpoint of my professional identity and what I love: What if philosophy was completed 2100 years ago? That is, what if, 2100 years ago, or if you prefer, 2500 years ago, we produced the “true” philosophy and philosophical methodology? In dating the completion of philosophy at 2100 - 2500 years ago, I am, of course, referring to the materialist hypotheses of Lucretius and Democritus...

Oh I’m sure, as I had this dark, nightmarish thought, philosophy will continue to exist. Philosophy is not an experimental discipline, but rather is a synthesis of its time. This is, of course, Badiou’s thesis. Philosophy takes what is new and vital in its time– such as Plato with geometry or Spinoza with the new physics –and asks how it transforms our understanding of the nature of being, what new politics it births, what new humans it renders possible and available, what new art and ethics it generates.

Philosophy, as it were, thinks the Zeitgeist. In doing so it helps to give meaning to what first appears disparate, it helps to intensify trajectories of research by rendering them more clear, it assists, like a circuit, in the cross-fertilization between different forms of practice and inquiry (like Hobbes or Spinoza examining society in terms of the new physics or the new mathematics), it critiques and shows materialism its own blind spots.

Philosophy is a form of social and intellectual self-reflexivity. And in our own time we begin to see philosophy rising again, shifting away from the endless analysis of mistaken hypotheses littering the battleground of the history of philosophy, and daring once again to think our present or what is vital and living in that present.

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