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Lyssa
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:56 am


The spat between Rosen and Strauss is like that between democrats and conservatives respectively; the common paradigm 'the platonic Good' is a shared one, a taken for granted.

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BAI: Can you explain how Leo Strauss and his students read Plato’s dialogues?

ROSEN: Well, firstly, the approach to the Platonic dialogues has changed over the course of history. For example, in Neo-Platonist times, interpreters of the dialogues took the dramatic form very seriously. And they read very complicated views into what would look to, say, the members of the contemporary analytical tradition like extremely trivial and secondary stylistic characteristics. Secondly, there was a tradition of taking seriously the dramatic form of the dialogue. It began in Germany in the 18th century with people like Schleiermacher. And that tradition extends through the 19th century, and you see it in scholars like Friedländer and in philosophical interpreters like Gadamer. And we now know, of course, that Heidegger in his lectures on the Sophist took the details of the dialogue very seriously. So, that has to be said in order for us to understand that the apparent heterodoxy or eccentricity of Leo Strauss’ approach to the Platonic dialogues is such a heterodoxy only with respect to the kind of positivist and analytical approach to Plato. That is true especially, or was true about ten years ago in the Anglo-Saxon world and secondarily, in Scandinavia as well as, to some extent, in Germany. So, the so-called un-orthodoxy, or Strauss’ approach, in taking one’s bearings by the dramatic nature of the dialogue, is a heterodoxy only with respect to the kind of positivist philological approach on the one hand, and the analytical approach on the other. One could say that the analytical approach to Plato is heterodox vis-à-vis the whole tradition in that it ignored the dramatic structure. Final point, within the last ten years, even the analysts have began talking about the dramatic form of the dialogue as though they discovered this. More directly, the Strauss approach is characterized by a fine attention to the dramatic structure, the personae, all the details in the dialogues because they were plays, and also by very close analyses. Now, Strauss’ interpretation has the tendency to give you the impression that Plato had complicated views that are concealed by the exoteric surface, and from penetrating the exoteric surface, one may find the esoteric teaching. That’s actually a slight exaggeration of what Strauss really did. Nevertheless, there is a difference between me and Straussians on this point. Whereas I don’t doubt that one has to interpret the dialogues carefully, I don’t assume that I’m going to find a coherent and a secret teaching hidden underneath the text. The purpose of the text is to stimulate the reader to think, and it does that by being an intricate construction with many implications, some of which are indeterminate in the sense that you can’t be sure of what Plato meant and what Socrates meant, but they are intended to make you, the interpreter, do your thinking for yourself. Now, Strauss wouldn’t disagree, but he and his school tend to give the impression that there is a doctrine, worked-out and concealed beneath the surface. In this generalized view of the Straussian position, the surface teaching is directed towards the many, to people who are not genuine philosophers, that is, they are not the very individuals who can think for themselves. It is meant to be helpful to these people, not harmful. The exoteric teaching so to speak expresses the truth in a manner that is accessible to non-philosophers, or it replaces the dangerous truth with a healthy myth. But the deeper teaching, which can be discerned or perceived only by the genuinely philosophical reader, is concealed underneath that surface. I think that it would be better to emphasize that the dialogue has as its primary function the task of stimulating the reader to think for himself, not to find the teaching worked-out for him.

BAI: You are against the idea that there is some sort of fixed structure of the Platonic dialogues?

ROSEN: That’s right. There is no doubt that there are some other opinions hidden beneath the surface opinions. But how do you know when you come to the end?

BAI: Do you think that Strauss had that kind of fixed picture of the Platonic dialogues?

ROSEN: For Strauss, there were three levels of the text: the surface; the intermediate depth, which I think he did think is worked out; and the third and deepest level, which is a whole series of open or finally unresolvable problems. Strauss tended to emphasize the first and the second. I wouldn’t say he didn’t mention the third, whereas I concentrate on the third.

BAI: Then, what is the basis for the philosopher in the Platonic sense to concern himself with society and other human affairs? I think the background information is this: According to Confucianists, who view themselves as some sort of philosophers, the elite are supposed to be concerned with public affairs. These are inseparable. Then, a specific difficulty for Plato is this: how can his philosophers be concerned with human affairs?

ROSEN: I have to answer this on the basis of my own understanding of Plato. I would say that if the human race is in danger of destruction, and can be rescued only by the philosopher, and the philosopher is asked to rule, then he can’t refuse. That’s simply decency as well as self-interest. Sure, that philosopher has no desire to rule. Aristotle approaches the whole problem from a totally different perspective. Under no circumstances are philosophers involved in politics. Aristotle points out that politics is the domain of practical intelligence. And practical intelligence includes the traditional virtues, which are basically political virtues; so, they are not merely private ethical virtues. Aristotle says that we need a man with ethical virtue to rule. He doesn’t have to be a philosopher at all. That’s a much more sensible approach. But Plato is not intending to be sensible: Plato is making an extreme case; namely, if you want a just city, and you are really going to be consistent about it, and keeping the argument through the end, what price do you have to pay, what steps must you take? One such step is the philosopher-king. Aristotle has no such program; his program is quite different. Let me say this: his conception of politics is quite different from Plato’s, and the way he is dealing with political problem is quite different. Theoretical knowledge is not necessary. Practical knowledge is necessary. That’s a much more relaxed approach to politics. Confucianism, from all I know about it, is much more like Aristotle in this. When Plato talks about philosophers, he means the most perfect human beings. He describes the philosophical nature in the Republic. They are the people with perfect intelligence, wonderful memory, excellent character… the best in every single way. In short, there are no such people, which is another way to show that it’s not possible to have such a city, it’s not a serious political program. One might say, once in a while, you have such a person. Of course Plato wouldn’t do that. He is not talking about turning over the city to a bunch of professors; he is talking about perfect human beings.

BAI: What about contemporary philosophers who are interested in logic, or semantics, or the like…

ROSEN: That for Plato is not philosophy. What does he mean? He means by philosophy the love of wisdom; wisdom, that means totality of life, right? It’s a unity of theory and practice. That’s what he means by a philosopher, the most perfect people. You might want to say: "there are no such people." I am not going to argue against that point right now. But it has nothing to do with making professors-kings. Can you imagine that Plato says that human problems will not be solved until professors are kings and kings are professors?

BAI: If the problem of the elite is one of your primary concerns, and you are not against liberal democracy, how can you reconcile elitism and liberal democracy?

ROSEN: Well, you know, the word "elitism" is so ambiguous today because it’s a political and ideological term. I never use it. If you ask me if I prefer to be governed by intelligent people than by stupid people, my answer is "yes," provided that intelligence includes good character. Is that "elitism"? Then I am an elitist. Only a moron would prefer to be governed by fools. Do I mean that a small number of people are superior to other people in the court of law, or that they should be treated with special deference politically? No, I don’t mean that; of course not. You know I am a liberal democrat in the sense that of all the countries I have seen, America’s about as good as any and better than most. And I never lived in a non-democratic regime. I’ve never lived in a non-democratic country. But I have no desire to do so because it is certainly my conviction that given the circumstances of life today, democracy is the best form of the government that is practically available to us. I would never devote my effort to attempt to establish an aristocracy because it wouldn’t work. I don’t believe in revolutionary transformation of society. I don’t think that one can transform a society into a utopia by a revolution. Of course, if an existing government is tyrannical, it may be necessary to revolt against that regime; this is plain from the example of Hitler. But to transform an imperfect and even decadent regime into a paradise simply by overthrowing the old guard and replacing it with extremely harsh measures designed to transform and purify the existing situation, is, I think, impossible. I think these things have to evolve in such a way that the entire population is involved, not all on the same level, but nevertheless all are involved. So, that’s the first part in my reply to your question. Secondly, universities are not governments. Would you like to be taught by a fool? No, you would like to be taught by the best possible teacher. So, under most circumstances in life, we want people who are competent rather than incompetent; we want people who are of good character rather than people who are of bad character; people who are intelligent rather than people who are stupid. If that’s elitism, then I am an elitist. Is that incompatible with democracy? No, because democracy will not function without competent leaders. These people can come from the humblest political and social backgrounds: they can be peasants.

BAI: Then, what is the proper way to fulfill the political call or task of the superior people?

ROSEN: By teaching. Teaching is a political function.

BAI: Does Strauss hold the same view on this subject?

ROSEN: Yes, I doubt that Strauss has a different view. He was training students. Some of them went into the government, and others are teaching other students. You can only have an effect in that way. Occasionally, I daydream about how nice it would be to be the tyrant of the entire country. But that’s a daydream. People like me are not interested in governing. Under certain extreme circumstances, if power were offered to me, and I was told: "Do it, or we are going to be destroyed," of course I would. But I would resign as quickly as possible.

BAI: But there are some Straussians who are actively involved in real political affairs.

ROSEN: They are mainly political scientists; they are not philosophers. They might think of themselves as philosophers, but they are almost all political scientists, specialists in American politics or constitutional law. They did actually get involved in politics but all of them are advisors; none of them has run for office. They are councilors.

BAI: But do you think that their way of being involved in politics is the proper way…

ROSEN: Not for me, because I am actually a philosopher. They are not. They are clerks, at a very high level. But I don’t want to say that it’s absolutely the case that I forbid philosophers to be engaged in politics. If they want to, let ’em do it. But I think that it’s necessary for philosophers to teach.

BAI: Why should Socrates talk to his inferiors? Why do you teach undergraduates?

ROSEN: Because I want to make sure that I am as smart as I think I am. In other words, only by teaching other people, and making clear to them what I am thinking, do I know that I understand what I am talking about. That’s why I teach.

BAI: Do you think that this is also Socrates’ concern when he is talking to other people?

ROSEN: Yes, don’t forget that Socrates is presented as talking to people in the dialogues to whom in real life he probably never spoke. But forget about the Platonic dialogues, the principle is that we have to talk to people because that’s the only way in which we can find out who we are. If I am staying at home, and just thinking how wonderful I am, or that I know the truth, I may not know it, or I may be crazy. I have to at least have friends to talk to. So, I think that’s very important.

BAI: What are your general criticisms of liberalism?

ROSEN: You know, liberalism means people who are in support of freedom. And I am in favor of freedom, so I have no criticisms of liberalism in that sense of the word. Liberalism in the U.S. today refers to a collection of attitudes, many of which I think are quite silly. For example, liberalism can mean excessive tolerance towards alternative viewpoints, failure to rank-order, the incapacity to distinguish the high and low, the noble and base. I am opposed to that. And I don’t think that’s liberal in the genuine sense of the term. But it is what is called liberalism, right? I am opposed to not holding people responsible for their actions. Does that mean that anyone who steals a loaf of bread should be shot? No, of course not. You have to use your brains. But I am not in favor of excessive permissiveness; I am not in favor of the kind of ostensible objectivity towards politics that destroys patriotism by saying: "Well, no country is better than another" or "We are worse than the others." So, I suppose that I share most of Nietzsche’s criticisms of liberalism. Does that mean that I am a tyrant or monarchist? Of course not. That means that I have a different conception of freedom than what is advocated today.

BAI: Although you make these criticisms of liberal democracy, you are still in favor of it. How so?

ROSEN: Because if we set up an aristocracy, the wrong people would rule. If we instituted an aristocracy, the correct people would not be in charge of things. I prefer a system with much greater chance that my view will be tolerated and respected.

BAI: In other words, philosophers will be tolerated…

ROSEN: That’s right. Philosophers do better in democracies. In tyrannies they can exist only by going underground, by being completely silent. I enjoy talking, so I prefer living in a democracy. Democracy is a terrible regime, but it’s the best available. That’s good enough for me. The last thing I want to have is a cadre of technicians taking care of the country.

BAI: Then, do you suggest any cure for the problems you just mentioned?

ROSEN: No, no. I don’t suggest any cure. What I do suggest is that we all do the best we can, struggle mightily with our problems in as intelligent and decent way as we can. Do I think that we are heading toward the solution? Absolutely not. I mean, history is cyclical, you know, there are just these random movements. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything, you know. Maybe we can make things locally better. But there is no Utopian solution. That’s what Plato is telling us.

BAI: And somehow, you are suggesting here that we have no guarantee that even by our great effort, those bad things in liberal democracy can be improved definitely?

ROSEN: No guarantee, no. Let me put it in this way. There is always a chance that things are going to be improved. Sometime they do improve. For example, I have become professionally well-known. I mean, if I stayed home, and said, "Ah well, no point in doing things," I would have no reputation, and so no opportunity to make an influence on bright people’s minds. So, I have some small effect. I don’t want to exaggerate. I have students.

BAI: But some Straussians seem to have some comprehensive political projects…

ROSEN: I don’t think so. I don’t think that they have more comprehensive projects than Marxists, or Monarchists, or liberal democrats. If you want say that they have projects, you might say that they want a kind of more conservative democracy in the republic, not Plato’s Republic. Straussians who served in the government were generally working for reasonable policies. They were very interested in containing communism. Strauss hates communism, like many Germans. The Nazis used to justify themselves in that way: they had to save the world from communism. Strauss is not a Nazi. But he regarded communism as a much greater danger; you know, Strauss was Jewish, and he hated Nazis, but he regarded communism as the main danger in the last century, and I think that he was in at least one sense correct. I mean that communism came much closer to taking over the world than National Socialism. The Nazis were insane, but Marxists were just fanatical. I mean, the principle of Marxism is very benevolent: everybody will prosper, everybody will be given justice. That’s not what Nazism teaches. So, no wonder communism had a better run for its money. Communism failed because they took Plato literally. So naturally, they had to kill all the people over the age often. That’s where they went wrong.

BAI: What do you think is the future of human society?

ROSEN: I have no idea.

BAI: So, you don’t believe that things…

ROSEN: Get better all the time? Absolutely not. I mean, brain surgery is improving, but not politics. Take a look at the world leaders in this generation, compare them with the leaders of 30 years ago. I even don’t know the name of the man who is taking charge of China now. How can you compare him to Mao? How can you compare whoever is the President of France now to General de Gaulle? How can you compare President Clinton to Roosevelt? How can you compare Tony Blair to Winston Churchill? Now, we need only look back 30 or 40 years or so, in comparison with which you see already the recent decline of world leaders. I think that the West is in a kind of decline, as a matter of fact. I think that China is in decline, I mean, you are turning into America, is that not so? All I know is what I see on television: big businesses, factories, Disneyland, McDonald, making money, everybody is prosperous. Well, in 50 years, there will be no communism here. You don’t have to shoot everybody. You tell all these very brave and wonderful people, who are being shot and being put in prison, "Relax, study nuclear physics. Because in 50 years it’s going to be like New York." Maybe that’s an exaggeration. Those old men who are 90 years old and clinging to power, they may be Marxists. But whatever they are, they will be dead in a few years. Then you are going to have businessmen taking over. And inevitably, they will bring corruption, you know, favoritism… But you want to watch out for it, so that you don’t turn into Indonesia. But I don’t think it’s going to happen.

BAI: Then, even in terms of society, you don’t think there is a guarantee for progress?

ROSEN: No, I can’t really say. I don’t have any apocalyptic views on this matter.

BAI: So, though there is progress in some aspects there is deterioration in others. You wouldn’t say that we can compare progress in brain surgery to deterioration in some other areas.

ROSEN: I wouldn’t say that, although I must say I am very pleased. I just had a surgical procedure two weeks ago. I mean I would’ve been dead horribly if there had been no such procedure and had my problem not been discovered by the appropriate examination. In any case, is that progress? Oh, yes, it is. But it doesn’t improve how I personally live. No, there is no connection.

BAI: So, for you, there is no way to calculate how much we gain, and how much we lose.

ROSEN: I can’t do it. You see certain things are worse, and certain things are better. But in general, no. Things have changed. That’s clear. Some were for the worse. And the dangers in science and technology are bigger just as the advances are bigger. Do you fear being murdered by some nut who may put some poison into the water system? What are you going to do about it? Sit around and worry about it? Or take steps to prevent it from happening?

BAI: Let me conclude by asking you about the Enlightenment.

ROSEN: I am also basically in favor of the Enlightenment. Did you know that? You look surprised. I mean, if the Enlightenment means that we have to try our best to progress scientifically, and morally, and to improve things. Of course I am in favor of it. If it means that more people can live longer, happier, and more comfortable lives, of course I am in favor of it. Do I believe that there is a necessary connection between scientific progress and morality? No, I just told you that. Do I think that the Enlightenment is correct in the very dominant position it gives to mathematics as a paradigm of reason? No, I don’t. Do I believe that the modification of the high standard of virtue of biblical and classical traditions has led to superior morality? No, I don’t believe in that. Do I believe that the Enlightenment is directly responsible for liberalism in the bad sense of the word? Yes, I do believe that. So, I have nuanced positions about the Enlightenment. Then, if you ask what is my final assessment, my final assessment is that we have no choice but to defend the Enlightenment, in a modified form. We should try our best to improve things, and we certainly don’t wish to return to the dark ages, or to authoritarian societies. What would you have me do? Destroy physics? How could we do that? In my essay, "A Modest Proposal to Rethink the Enlightenment," I point out there that it’s impossible to go back. Even if it were desirable. There is no way to overturn the Enlightenment without destroying ourselves completely, we cannot undo the influence of science and technology and civilization. How can we do it? I mean, we’d have to burn all subversive books, and shoot everyone who is capable of rewriting these books. Ultimately, if we couldn’t take any chances, we’d better shoot everybody. Otherwise, somebody will come along, you know, who’d re-invent the wheel. No, I am not a big critic of the Enlightenment. I am a sensible critic of the Enlightenment. Not the only one. It certainly doesn’t follow from this that we should go back to go back to Ancient Greece.

BAI: For me, your position is that we should both warn against some sort of exaggerated ideals of the Enlightenment, such as that by mass education, we can have some sort of Utopia, that kind of ideology, and we should also warn against nihilism or postmodernism.

ROSEN: Yes. I think that nihilism is a consequence of the substitution of science for prudence. Because science is incapable of evaluating anything, including science. People say: "Science is wonderful," but science is incapable of saying "science is wonderful." That’s rhetoric by the scientific standard, and therefore is unreasonable. So, you must not receive the impression that I am one of the reactionary opponents to the Enlightenment. That’s false. I am not that at all. I am a liberal democrat and a man of the people. I understand very, very well that in a way the modern enterprise is nobler than the ancient enterprise because the modern enterprise dares to take the chance of freeing people, and making them comfortable, whereas the Ancients say "No, it’s impossible. We have to pay this penalty. We prefer to have a few cultivated people." So, the modern position is much nobler, it may be impossible, but so what? Isn’t it a principle of the classics that the good is good even if it lasts a short time? So, if we are to destroy ourselves by our attempt to set ourselves free, maybe the period during which we’ve lived free is intrinsically so valuable that it makes up for the shortness. Would you want to live for 5,000 years like the ancient Egyptians, safe from political change but dying of hook-worm at the age of 30, to say nothing of other horrors of daily life? No. Don’t think of me as an enemy of the Enlightenment, please. Think of me as a sane man who therefore sees the dangers and weaknesses of the Enlightenment. There is no necessary connection between being reasonable and being happy. In other words, the illusion is created by a lot of people, including the Straussians, to the effect that the Greeks are all happy, and we moderns are all miserable. That’s nonsense. Plato’s view of human life is not that optimistic. In my book Hermeneutics as Politics, I argued that postmodernism is a kind of logical consequence of Enlightenment. Too much light leads to total darkness. In other words, the Enlightenment leads to the identification of reason with mathematics and physics, which means everything else is irrational, in which case there are no rules and no laws and we can say anything we want to, and that’s what the postmodernists do. Science shows us that reality is matter in motion. Then human life is an illusion, which means that subjectivity is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, and so on and so forth. Yes, in that sense, it’s very clear that exaggerated Enlightenment ironically leads to chaos. I am not in favor of exaggerated Enlightenment. So that has to be factored into my position. It’s a complicated, nuanced position with respect to the Enlightenment. I neither approve nor disapprove of it one hundred percent. I am much too fussy to approve of anything one hundred percent. There are two exaggerations of the Enlightenment: one, the positivist, scientific exaggeration; two, postmodernism, whose representatives don’t think of themselves as Enlightenment people, but they are. It’s just that the light was so bright that they couldn’t see anything.

BAI: What about Strauss’ political philosophy?

ROSEN: You mean his actual political views? I think he was misunderstood in America. I think that he was himself a liberal. He was a liberal democrat. He supported democracy. Winston Churchill was his great hero. He inculcated in his disciples, too, frequently a kind of exaggerated, rhetorical, amateurish, I don’t know how to put it, appreciation for aristocratic societies, a Burkean conservatism, the Greek polis. But basically, Strauss was a moderate, liberal. Just like me. He was just not understood in this country. People think of him as a Fascist, a Racist. It’s false. He was an anti-Communist, anti-Marxist. He is a classical liberal. He would certainly be called a conservative today. I prefer to say that, whatever his political views may have been, what Strauss cared about was philosophy, and he wanted a political society in which philosophy was possible. In a society which is called liberalism today, philosophy is not possible. Either you have machine man, you know, people who are doing nothing but constructing technical artifacts, or you have these postmodernist gasbags. On the other hand, I want to correct myself immediately. Of course philosophy is possible today. I mean things are so chaotic, even I can exist. It’s just that if you look at the establishment, it’s not very good. It’s rather poor. But that’s to be expected, in democracy, you have low standards of taste. Conniving people who desire power are in every society. In our society, the ideologues and sophists are in the public view. They are the same people who make vulgar interpretations of things to be in favor of the fashions of the day. They exist in every country. It’s not surprising that we have them here.

BAI: Are there any general differences between your political philosophy and Strauss’?

ROSEN: I don’t know. Probably. I think I am more liberal than Strauss is. I tend to support the Democratic Party for example, I mean, talking about concrete political things. The Republicans are sometimes right, but the current state of their leadership is very low, very low. For example, I believe in morality, but I think their version of morality is like fundamentalism. Morality as the evangelical interpretation of the Bible. I think their economic thinking is often quite cruel. Fifty years ago, Strauss persuaded me that Communism was a big danger, and that relativism, and subjectivism is a big danger. I still believe that. But on concrete political issues, I am often to the left of Strauss. You can’t equate conservatism with capitalism. Conservatism originally meant that the state controlled everything. The current view that as long as you have free markets everything will be wonderful, is absurd. You must have governmental supervision of pharmaceuticals, toys, safety belts, right? I think that’s crazy. You’ve got to have governmental supervision of things. I’m sure Strauss would agree with that, but I don’t know to what degree. He was a Republican in his day. He supported Nixon. He was not at all critical of Joe MacCarthy. I know that for a fact. I didn’t share Strauss’ views at all. That’s what I meant when I said I was more liberal. I was more to the left than Strauss. Strauss was quite conservative. But he saw his conservatism as true liberalism. It was not that he wanted to institute an aristocracy. He was very concerned about the Communist menace. In general, I am to the left of Strauss, as those words are used today, but not very far. I am much more frank than the Straussians. They would regard me as imprudent and running the risk of corrupting the multitude by talking about difficult questions in public.

2000.

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:42 pm

One review of Stanley Rosen's "The Mask of Enlightenment: Nietzsche's Zarathustra"

Quote :
Zarathustra by an Anti-Nietzschean, February 8, 2008

By Thomas (France)

This review is from: The Mask of Enlightenment: Nietzsche's Zarathustra, Second Edition (Paperback)
That Stanley Rosen is strongly anti-Nietzschean is made quite clear in his Conclusion (p. 249): "Nietzsche's doctrines are at least as dangerous politically as those of Marx, and in a post-Marxist epoch, obviously even more so. Once the Marxist dream of wakefulness is punctured, the temptation intensifies to turn to the Nietzschean effort to derive individual significance from chaos."
Rosen contends that Nietzsche is a nihilist (p. 247) who sees the cosmos as only random chaos. This may be an over-generalization since, on the human plane, Zarathustra says that Will to Power is the foundation - see Lampert's classic commenatary: Nietzsche's Teaching: An Interpretation of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and Z. Book I.15: On the Thousand and One Goals: "A table of excellencies hangeth over every people. Lo! it is the table of their triumphs; lo! it is the voice of their Will to Power." or Albert E. Gunn in The Review of Metaphysics 1998.
Rosen thinks that Nietzsche's "metaphor" of eternal recurrence could destroy the myth of linear Progress of the Enlightenment, but that this is totally deterministic (amor fati); Rosen then concludes that all Zarathustra's calls for a "creative transvaluation of values" (p. 247) and for the coming of a Superman are impossible and are a "noble lie" (p. 183)
I think that this contradictory vision is by no means inevitable. It is possible for example that the two aspects (determinism and creation) refer to successive phases in Zarthustra's own evolution in the course of the text. Robert Gooding-Williams' commentary Zarathustra's Dionysian Modernism (2001) pays closer attention to the connections between Zarathustra's beliefs and the dramatic sequences of the text.
Rosen's reading of Book 4 is very stimulating though. He points out the very ironic tone used towards the "higher men" who have stopped their progression, their self-overcoming, on the way towards the Superman, because of fear, or too much prudence. Rosen notes: "Zarathustra then warns them to restrict their will to their capacity. There should be no doubt here that he is condemning rather than praising the higher men." (p. 235)
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:00 pm

Yea, I saw that Perpetual; Rosen's fear is nothing compared to how Waite spoke of N. in his marxist book:
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Rosen's definition of Nihilism mainly tackles the Relativist angle (eg. the capitalist-solipsism and communism I excerpted before); from a random review...
Quote :
"Nihilism when two antagonistic forces in society that produce a dynamic of conflict are recognized to be exactly the same thing. If you were caught up in the conflict and suddenly looked at the enemy and said “we confronted the enemy and we were them” then that would be a loss of meaning in your world. This is precisely what happens to Achilles in the Iliad when he realizes that the Greeks are no better than the Trojans when Agamemnon takes his war prize Briseis. He withdraws from the conflict, but then when his friend Patroclus is killed he goes into a berzerker state. Both of his reactions are themselves nihilistic. Thus the Iliad functions as a users manual for living in a Nihilistic worldview. It also tells us about the nature of emergence. And so this fundamental duality is at the core of our epic tradition and needs to be understood by those encompassed by the Western worldview." [Kent Palmer]

I haven't read his book 'Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns', which sounds really interesting.

There used to be some excellent commentaries made on a yahoo grp. similar to OPN by a Mr. Joe Martin, he used to go under the handle "pomonomo" - more or less a liberal, but with a long history of an Accurate reading of N./Strauss/Lampert/Rosen/Machiavelli; anyways, he picked up on an interesting observation that Rosen emphasizes:

Joseph Martin wrote:
"Let us recapitulate, phronesis is unattainable, or, what in the long run amounts to the same thing, unpredictably attainable. We never know when we will be graced with a philosopher. Technos is within reach of a few, but, since it is not wisdom, it is merely an ersatz phronesis. Those that aren't wise rely on (a merely technical) theory. But even technos will never be within reach of the many. Now, that is why we have Nomos, or law, which is a cheapened form of a debased wisdom (technos). Rosen tells us that, “[the Stranger] begins by assuming that the laws should be changed whenever circumstances make it reasonable to do so.” Since everything changes, laws that once were useful, and therefore good, become enormities. The greatest enormity being that once the people have been taught, perhaps we should say trained, in a certain way of life, it becomes almost impossible to change them, to turn them in another direction. Again, phronesis is the best, but since philosophers aren't always around when you need them, we resort to technos, but since theories and their rules are subject to continual revision, with said revisions not always either teachable or an improvement, nomos (law) becomes our last resort, but, as Rosen observes, “conservatism is at best only a tactic,” a miserable war of attrition until a philosopher or an ideology appears. It is interesting to note that Rosen here seems to understand philosophical conservativism as permanent revolution. Yes, it would appear the only choice humanity has is how to come to ruin. But these ruins will also be an occasion for philosophy…

So, philosophers tell noble lies, myths and/or ideologies in order to make civilization possible, which, perhaps, is nothing more than putting off the day of ruin. As Rosen says, “A myth is a story, it is a fiction, something that is not true. And yet this untruth, which we hesitate to call a falsehood, is able to communicate deep truths.”

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In the above we see, how Cleverly Rosen is exploiting a Right-wing Plato to a Revolutionary Leftism... a relativistic snare is unearthed - a nihilism. Plato becomes the "first modern", and N. the "last ancient"...

Aside:

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:38 pm

"Nietzsche's Corpse" - Geoff Waite

monoskop.org/images/1/1d/Waite_Geoff_Nietzsches_Corps-e_Aesthetics_Politics_Prophecy.pdf

To go through all that trouble just to call Nietzsche a misogynist.

Has there ever even been a scholar of Nietzsche/philosopher as handsome as Nietzsche? The effect of the real life receptiveness of woman towards Nietzsche and its reflection in his philosophy. Not to dwell or blow this point out of proportion but to keep it in proportion and not out from proportioning. Everything comes together... an incredible memory, aggressive and compassionate thinking, good looks... The effect of a woman on a man being taken to its highest point by(and could only be by) a perfect vessel in a way...that wise mischievousness look...Only those with the right eyes can see woman.

Quote :
Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil


Quote :
A person who took note of the course of events [at the feast] would have
come at once to the conclusion that beauty is in its essence something regal,
especially when, as in the present case of Autolycus, its possessor joins
with it modesty and sobriety
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Wed May 27, 2015 1:17 pm

The Cynical nihilist is one, who picking on a small imperfection at his/her level of understanding and dismisses the whole.

But the opposite instance is also valid. The one, who picking on a small perfection, a valid pattern at his/her level of understanding sanctifies the whole.

Both bring it down to a relative parity, as bad or good as any other. The latter we may call the Alexandrian nihilists. With them, a small goodness is enough to warrant it pofound.

To focus on the flaw or focus on the good at the expense of the whole, are two sides of the same.

And this is what the grand meeting and the remarkable anecdote between Diogenes and Alexander meant; between cynicism and positivism.

Diogenes: "Step out of my sun."
Alexander: "If I were not Alexander the Great, I would like to be Diogenes."

Quote :
"Henry Fielding retells the anecdote as A Dialogue between Alexander the Great, and Diogenes the Cynic, printed in his Miscellanies in 1743. Fielding's version of the story again uses Alexander as an idealistic representation of power and Diogenes as an idealistic representation of intellectual reflection. The false greatness of the conqueror is shown opposed to the false greatness of the do-nothing philosopher, whose rhetoric is not carried through to action."

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As per Nietzsche, the burden of Alexandrian optimism was riding on Science and Art was too cynical, lacking conception of any revolutionary heroism - the period hence why N. was drawn to Wagner.

After Nietzsche, today the Alexandrian optimism rides on Art, to the extent simulations have displaced and taken over reality, more good than the real; and Cynicism falls upon Science - without abs. certainity, nothing is really real or valid or fit to be objectively evaluated; science means statistical validity.

Modernity and Postmodernity have straddled from one pole of nihilism to the other.

Why the criss-crossing of Alexander and Diogenes remains one of the most ironic moments of history...

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:18 pm

The Genealogy of Nihilism via Plotinus: How the World became a Fable

Cunningham wrote:
"In Hesiod’s Theogony we are told the tale of a divine drama involving tolmatic patricide and mutilation, which is the very advent of the world. Ouranos, the highest god, fathers wild children whom he hates. Because of this hate, Ouranos buries these children in the bosom of the earth, where they lie like seeds. The earth sets out to free these children. She encourages Kronos, ‘a most terrible child’, who is the first son, to attack his ‘lecherous’ father.3 Kronos does so, castrating Ouranos in the process. In this way Kronos takes his father’s place, and he in turn fathers sons with Rheia after forcing himself upon her.4 These children are ‘glorious’, yet Kronos fears them for they might avenge Ouranos their grandfather. As a result Kronos swallows all the children, keeping them within himself. But Rheia hides one of these sons, who is called Zeus. Zeus is allowed to grow in strength and resolve, until the time when he attacks his father, binding Kronos with chains and emancipating his brothers.

Plotinus utilises this myth to explain the eternal procession of all from the One. For Plotinus Ouranos is the One, while Kronos is Intellect and Zeus is Soul.5 The myth encapsulates, in Plotinus’ rather sanitised version, the movement of emanation, which arises contra the Gnostics by way of contemplation, and not discursive and agonistic activity. The One produces Kronos without need, but instead out of a plenitude which overflows. This mode of ‘making’ is external to the progenitor. When Kronos in turn gives birth to a ‘beautiful progeny’ he does so within himself, but for Plotinus this is not, as for Hesiod, a result of hate. For Kronos is said to love and adore his sons. Indeed, it is this love which causes Kronos to swallow them – thought remains inside the mind. But one ‘stands apart’: this is Zeus (Soul). And it is this standing forth which makes manifest the external world. Furthermore, this last child, who brings about the corporeal world, imitates his grandfather (Ouranos) since his generation is apparently external. For Plotinus the One would flow forever were it not for the castration carried out by Kronos. This castration restricts the flow of the One which in turn allows for the advent of the intelligible. It is this ‘calling halt’ that enables the dualism of subject–object, which is the basis of thought per se. If there was no cessation, then there would be no possible conceptualisation or noesis. But because this occurs within the belly of Kronos (‘fullness’; Saturn) there would still fail to arise any visible world.6 Plotinus has Zeus perform this task by ‘standing forth’ in the most audacious of manners. Yet here again there is no internecine strife. For Plotinus, Kronos hands over the governance of the world to Zeus in a most willing manner.7 Nonetheless it will be argued that this myth epitomises the immanence involved in nihilism. For what proceeds from the One, which is beyond being and beyond preceding, must in a sense remain within its placeless providing.

Thus since Non-being is the father of all that is, there is a sense in which the reditus (to non-being) precedes the exitus (to being).8 In other words, that which comes from the One ‘follows’ a (me)ontological return which ensures that its necessity does not infringe the simple, autarchical, supremacy of the One. This means that what emanates from the One, being, is not, in so far as to be is an inferior mode of existence compared to Non-being which is the only entity that really is (the really real). It is for this reason that Non-being can necessarily produce being without infringing simplicity, because to be is nothing. And as comparatively nothing, being does not actually escape the One, but remains immanent to it; being is in this sense an internal production. This is made possible by the protective negations which Plotinus employs at a methodological level throughout the Enneads." [Genealogy of Nihilism]

Cunningham wrote:
"How will Plotinus account for that which is ‘produced’ without reducing the status of the One? In other words, how can the One remain One? This ancient problematic here gives rise to certain philosophical moves which predispose the generation of the aforementioned nihilistic logic. Plotinus develops a meontological philosophy in which non-being is the highest principle. The One is beyond or otherwise than being.10 This will, it is hoped, protect its simplicity. The consequence of such a move is a series of negations which will give rise to a fully immanentised realm, one that may accommodate the nihilistic logic of nothing as something.

We can identify at least four prophylactic negations. The first is that of ‘tolmatic’ language, which is to say, language that implies a fall from a state of grace: to be is to be fallen. Although Plotinus sets himself against the Gnostics on just this point he cannot, it seems, help but utilise their logic of creation as a fallen state. By so doing, he ensures that that which is becomes subordinate to that which is not, a consequence to be continually repeated. The second negation arises because in simply not being the One that which is is not: to be is not to be. So all that which emanates from the One is nothing, because it has being. The third negation is the ‘negation of negation’: the ineluctable return to the One. This return, as has been said, in a sense precedes every exit. The fourth negation concerns a series of repetitions of the original negation of the One itself. At some point each hypostasis imitates the One in its contemplative non- production of that which is.11 Plotinus, contra the Gnostics, relies on contemplation to engender production. But the nature of this contemplation is, in a sense, non-production, since being consults nothing (the One) and repeats nothing in the innermost core of everything.

Thus that which proceeds from the One returns to the One – is always already returning. This desiring return is the contemplation of each emanation’s nothingness. In this way the return precedes every departure, for every departure is but the ‘embodiment’ of a return. But this provision will be incomprehensible unless we remember Hesiod. For it was in recalling the Theogony that we learnt of Kronos giving birth to sons within himself. Now we have also learnt that it is characteristic of both the One and the Soul to produce externally. Yet I have argued that we can only understand the emanation from the One as that which, in a sense, takes place within its cavernous belly. How is this reconcilable with the idea of external generation?

The One’s differentiation from all else cannot be spatial, for that would set something over and against it. So difference must, it seems, take place within and through the One: ‘The One does not sever itself from it [all else], although it is not identical with it.’12 (Hegel argues for a similar understanding in relation to the infinite and the finite.)13 Plotinus is unable to posit an ontological difference: we see this to the degree that the One can produce only one effect, doing so necessarily. That is to say, the One re-produces itself in every emanation: the One is non-being and being is not. In this way the One produces nothing ontologically different from itself. For all difference, that is, being, fails to register a real distinction between itself and its cause. Why? Because any reality a being might be said to have would be its non-being, for only the One’s non- being is truly real (or really real). Difference between the One and what falls beneath it is noticed only by an aspectual differentiation: like the aforementioned Gestalt effect of the duck-rabbit; but it must be remembered that both aspects manifest themselves on one picture.

Plotinus does hint strongly at the notion of a ‘cavernous’ – internal – provision, as he states that the universe is in the soul and that the soul is in the intelligible.14 For each causes only one effect which must remain immanent to the cause as a result of causation’s merely ontic logic. What is meant by this is that the One must look to an external logic, or rubric, which dictates and explains what difference is. In this way the One does not create, for the One cannot create difference, but must, instead, be protected from it. (It is argued in Part II that this is not the case for the Trinitarian God of Christian theology, for the Trinity creates difference from divine sameness.) Furthermore, Plotinus asserts that the ‘authentic [all] is contained within the nothing’. Bréhier comments on this idea by speaking of the reabsorption of all into ‘undifferentiated being’. So too does Bouyer. We know that for Plotinus the One is otherwise than being, and that every addition is from non-being. Indeed, we have only been as persons because of non-being. This does suggest that the place of being is within the cavernous belly of non-being. Plotinus calls the world the soul’s cave, and more pertinently he suggests that ‘to depart does not consist in leaving in order to go elsewhere’. It seems that the many which flows from the fecundity of the One does so only within the One. Indeed, as Gilson suggests, that which is provided ‘loses itself in the darkness of some supreme non-being and of some supreme unintelligibility’." [GN]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Jul 26, 2015 5:18 pm

Nihilism is a mental disease caused by several factors. I struggle to fight my own nihilism every other day.
Nihilism can be caused by ennui, excess, lack of challenges, idleness, or a repetitive lifestyle.
Nihilism can also be the result of mental trauma, an overused mind, abuse, or a chemical imbalance, such as low testosterone or low or high serotonin.

Annihilism aims to rectify Nihilism. The average Nihilist has several shortcomings, and is equivalent to a chicken running around with no head. A Nihilist will tell you that his life has no meaning or purpose, and then he will tell you that he is not miserable. A Nihilist will defeat any attempt at problem solving and avoid any goals. The average Nihilist will take joy at the thought of the world ending, even though such a thought is illogical and I will explain why.

The average Nihilist, thinks of the world ending, yet life going on, in some way. This is illogical, because it would lower the quality of life.
Annilihism aims to rectify this. Annihilism does not promote the world ending in conventional means. For example, Annihilism does not promote nuclear warfare, because life would still go on, and it would lower the quality of life. Annihilsm does not promote a giant asteroid, because life would still go on on some other planet. Annihilsm does not promote the ideals of Nihilism. Annilism promotes the good of pleasure, and the evil of displeasure. Annilism also recognizes the ideals of lorem ipsum, that some pain may be tactical in order for the better good. Annilihism also recognizes the virtue of good planning and intellect, in order for the better good, good health and activities. Annilihism aims to improve the quality of life of all lifeform, in an open minded way. However, Annilihism also recognizes that the best quality of life is no life at all, because it is mathematically improbable to construct a life without any suffering. However, Annilihism does not promote world destruction via primitive means, but it does promote the search for a scientific a way to end recurrence in a non-painful way.
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Mon Jul 27, 2015 5:28 pm

Trixie Celūcilūnaletumoon wrote:
Nihilism is a mental disease caused by several factors. I struggle to fight my own nihilism every other day.
Nihilism can be caused by ennui, excess, lack of challenges, idleness, or a repetitive lifestyle.
Nihilism can also be the result of mental trauma, an overused mind, abuse, or a chemical imbalance, such as low testosterone or low or high serotonin.

Annihilism aims to rectify Nihilism. The average Nihilist has several shortcomings, and is equivalent to a chicken running around with no head. A Nihilist will tell you that his life has no meaning or purpose, and then he will tell you that he is not miserable. A Nihilist will defeat any attempt at problem solving and avoid any goals. The average Nihilist will take joy at the thought of the world ending, even though such a thought is illogical and I will explain why.

The average Nihilist, thinks of the world ending, yet life going on, in some way. This is illogical, because it would lower the quality of life.
Annilihism aims to rectify this. Annihilism does not promote the world ending in conventional means. For example, Annihilism does not promote nuclear warfare, because life would still go on, and it would lower the quality of life. Annihilsm does not promote a giant asteroid, because life would still go on on some other planet. Annihilsm does not promote the ideals of Nihilism. Annilism promotes the good of pleasure, and the evil of displeasure. Annilism also recognizes the ideals of lorem ipsum, that some pain may be tactical in order for the better good. Annilihism also recognizes the virtue of good planning and intellect, in order for the better good, good health and activities. Annilihism aims to improve the quality of life of all lifeform, in an open minded way. However, Annilihism also recognizes that the best quality of life is no life at all, because it is mathematically improbable to construct a life without any suffering. However, Annilihism does not promote world destruction via primitive means, but it does promote the search for a scientific a way to end recurrence in a non-painful way.


Annihilism is a term I also coined last year in my private notes, to refer to Annihilation + Nihilism = An-nihilism, as the destruction of the spirit and masculine in particular that is occuring.
Satyr, of course has dedicated all his observations to this phenomenon.

Back to you, it is already a nihilism on your part to want to "end recurrence" in any which way... to eliminate a causal chain, is self-elimination and self-hatred. This has already been said to you here before. And collapsing distinctions to the extent, you equate recurrece to repetition is a further nihilism.
One way of speaking of recurrence is to say it is the repetition of arche-Types. The same entity in all its unique characteristics does not repeat, but the general principle of its type may repeat.. we say, may recur.
Recurrence therefore is not a monotony, but your expressed wish that there should ever be novel forms is nihilistic.
The general moralizing of things in terms of good/evil is yet another nihilism.

The good of pleasure and the evil of displeasure is exactly what the Bible teaches... discounting the variance of whatever counts for pleasure and displeasure.

How J.-Xt. are you...?

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:34 pm

Cunningham wrote:
"It is possible to suggest that each of Kant’s three critiques embodies a particular disappearance.

The first Critique endeavours to ‘say’ something about ‘truth’; in so doing the world must be reduced to the status of mere appearance. This reduction enables Kant to speak, in that he is no longer plagued by the scepticisms of the empiricists. Kantian philosophical discourse is, then, predicated on the disappearance of the world.

The second Critique, which concerns practical reason, attempts to tackle the issue of moral practice, the good as such. But here again it is possible to suggest that Kant is only able to have his morality, that is to ‘do’ good acts, if nature is usurped to some degree by a noumenal realm that allows for freedom from the hegemony of mechanistic laws.

In the third Critique, Kant discusses beauty and the sublime. This involves the possibility of sight, a ‘seeing’ of the beautiful. But again this is only possible if beauty is merely subjective (yet universal), not involving the existence or perfection of any object. Furthermore, beauty does not involve knowledge. This aesthetic involves, contra Aquinas, no cognition in any manner.

So in the first Critique the world becomes mere appearance, and upon this rests our ability to ‘say’.

In the second Critique we lose nature, and upon this rests our ability to ‘do’.

In the third Critique we lose the visible object and upon this rests our ability to ‘see’.

These disappearing acts will be carried out in a privileged manner by ‘man’, the subject. Like Spinoza’s epistemically informed philosopher (and Hegel’s universal thinker and Heidegger’s Dasein), we have the Kantian subject, with its Copernican revolution, who will be the site of this triple vanishing.

Echoing Plotinus and Avicenna, Kant insists that God does not cause the world, the phenomenal sphere. Instead, man is the ‘creator’ of appearance, while God is cause of noumena and the noumena is cause of man.

Man constructs appearance and this appearance is necessary, for without this input all would be in ‘vain’. If God, in a sense, requires man to provide such ‘causation’, then God seems subject to dependency. This is resolved through the ontological retraction of anything ‘objective’ being found in appearance. Appearance is merely appearance, it being nothing outside the subject. As Kant says, ‘the objects of experience are never given in themselves, but only in experience, and have no existence outside it’. The necessary appearance is bereft of independent existence; it is nothing outside the subject. So even though it is required, what is required is ontologically nothing.

Appearance is reduced to the subject. But this leaves Kant in difficulty because, as he admits himself, ‘the proposition, “I think”, or “I exist thinking” is an empirical proposition’. The objects of experience may have been reduced, in some sense, to the subject, but this renders the subject something which is phenomenal yet apparently irreducible. As Jacobi says, ‘without that presupposition I could not enter into the system, but without it I could not stay within it’. Although Jacobi is here referring to the things-in-themselves, it is employed here to illustrate the quandary which the subject, ‘I’, faces. The subject must be there to reduce objects to experience and yet because of this it cannot be allowed to remain. Kant will have the subject posit itself as an object, and in so doing the ‘world’ remains merely phenomenal. ‘The thinkable I posits itself as the sensible.’ This positing takes the form of time, as Kant says in the first Critique: ‘Time is therefore to be regarded as real, not as an object but as the mode of representation of myself as object.’98 The subject then becomes an appearance. There seem to be two approaches to appearance: first, the subject who renders appearance as appearance, and, second, the object which is the appearance of appearance, to employ Kant’s phrase. For Kant, the subject who first ‘causes’ appearances to be merely appearance, then affects itself, must in consequence be the appearance of appearance. The subject is reduced to appearance in being posited as an object. Kant has ‘got rid of ’ appearance and then the subject, so the dependence ‘God’ has on these is relieved of infringing divine omnipotence.

Yet this, it seems, leaves Kant with an object (‘subject-object’), and as we do not appear to have a subject, this would mean that there were indeed objects without subjects. Kant overcomes this by taking his analysis to another level, namely, to the transcendental subject and transcendental object. The object which is the object of ‘subject-object’, viz., the phenomenal as a whole, can be thought of as the transcendental object. This transcendental is that which is thought by the transcendental subject as such. Kant is not quite sure how to term the transcendental object and subject. The former is called a cause of representation, or that which underlies outer appearance and is a ground of appearance. The transcendental object is also sometimes referred to as being noumenal, as if it were a thing in itself (though Kant is not consistent here), and lastly as ‘= x’. The transcendental subject is empirically unknown to us, yet it is the proper self, how the self is in itself. The transcendental subject is also referred to as ‘= x’. If both the transcendental object and the transcendental subject ‘= x’, there may be only a formal distinction between the two.105 Kant also, of course, speaks of a thing-in-itself and this is also called the subject and is equated with ‘= x’.

To repeat: the object is reduced to the subject, the subject to the object; each ‘dis-appearing’ within the perpetual dialectic between the transcendental subject and object. But these coalesce around the ‘= x’, which can be thought of as the noumenal. If we concede to Kant that the noumenal is negative, what he calls a ‘negative existence’, some interesting possibilities arise.

Like Avicenna’s Neoplatonist first intelligence, the noumenal, for Kant, causes appearance, but so also does man. Now if the noumenal does cause the appearance of appearance, which God cannot cause, then this noumenal (if something positive) may well threaten to infringe divine omnipotence. Appearance is required to enable creation to be creation, viz., not to be in vain, a mere formal wilderness. Yet God’s dependence on Man appears also to lead to the negation of what is needed. Objects are merely appearance, becoming reduced to a subject who is also reduced. Even at a transcendental level a structural reduction and subsequent monistic unicity seem to arise. What we arrive at is a noumenal nominality, the ‘x’ – what Hamann called a ‘Talisman’, and Schelling called ‘nothing’

Furthermore, God becomes not a being outside man but within man. Kant includes both World and God within the ‘totality of things’. It is a totality revealed by ‘Man’. He says that there is one God and one World and one ideal Man whose ‘duty’ it is to reveal the first two. Man is both phenomenon and noumenon, and in so being he displays the dialectical disclosure of the totality of things (‘= x’) in both the World and God, which are correlates of each other. Man, in this sense, is both God and World. The sense of vocation developed in the third Critique out of respect for the sublime, engendered by our incapacity to represent the infinite, becomes the duty spoken about in the Opus Postumum. In the third Critique man was unable to represent the infinite and this awakened an awareness of a supersensible faculty and realm. In this realm, or by this faculty, man was able to think the infinite. But the initial idea which had given rise to the feeling of limitation was already the subject’s, hence it was always self-limitation. In the Opus Postumum Kant states that Man’s duty is to combine, connect and unite God and the World. Man as phenomenon is World, as noumenon is God (in the Opus Postumum Kant calls God noumenon). It seems that we have Man as the site of what I call ‘disappearance’. He causes the object to be merely phenomenal and causes the noumenal to reside only as the phenomenal. The unitary ‘x’ betrays the univocity between the ‘being’ of noumenality and phenomenality.

It seems, then, that Kant was also guilty of having the something reduced to nothing, and then having this nothing ‘be’ as something. The phenomenal is supplemented by the noumenal and also vice versa. But this dualism gives way to a monism, one which Kant eventually calls the ‘Totality’. This had already been present as the ‘x’, which was the sign of the nominalism of the noumenal. Like Spinoza, Kant provides nothing. As Zizek says: ‘[T]he subject “is” a non-substantial void – when Kant asserts that the transcendental subject is an unknowable, empty x, all one has to do is confer an ontological status on this epistemological determination: the subject is the empty Nothingness of pure self-relating." [Genealogy of Nihilism]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:29 am

Never saw it like this... Derrida as a Plotinian Spinozaist...

Cunningham wrote:
""Derrida’s position illuminates Spinoza’s position." [R. Harland]


It is possible to argue that Derrida is a Plotinian disciple of Spinoza (a discipleship which is here referred to as meontotheology). We can begin to see this Plotinian Spinozism when we read Derrida insisting that ‘in order to exceed metaphysics it is necessary that a trace be inscribed within the text of metaphysics, a trace that continues to signal . . . in the direction of an entirely other text’. It is this inscription that may allow ‘an entirely other question’.16 But this question remains where it was by the very fact of it being an inscription. This question is, I suggest, why something rather than nothing? Why do we need something when the nothing will be more than sufficient? So this question takes place in the ‘displacement of a question, a certain system somewhere open to an undecidable resource that sets the system in motion’. This question will be the un-questioning question of différance; un-questioning because it does not ask something, yet an unquestioning question because it does ask nothing.

Derrida argues that this question is older than the ontological difference. Différance will ‘provide’ or generate the nothing as something. The question of différance risks ‘meaning nothing’20 – an un-meaning which allows meaning to come after it, but such an un-meaning, this différance, is not before as it is before every before. (This is similar to Deleuze who grounds sense in nonsense.)21 Hence, ‘the name origin no longer suits it’.22 It will be this un-questioning question that will make presence and absence possible.23 Furthermore, it will allow language to say nothing and thought to think nothing; we will be without being. Oppositions qua oppositions arrive within the active movement of différance.24 If différance renders the nothing as something, then the question of being cannot come first and the idea of origin is indeed problematised. The nothing as something is ‘first’, but this nothing as something detaches itself from these oppositional logics. Derrida is here endeavouring to escape ontic categories, yet still provide what those appeared to provide: language, thought and being. (Being is an ontic category in so far as it is trapped by the notion of the something.)

Derrida appears to provide continually semantic performances of the nothing as something: pharmakon is both cure and poison, the hymen is marriage and virginity. (Each side supplements the other, thus allowing Derrida’s text to provide all that it does under erasure: to be without being.) The most important example is that of the Plotinian ikhnos (trace). The unquestioning-question of différance ‘goes without saying . . . remaining silent’.27 That is, language does proceed, but does not say something. It does not seek something; instead it treats the nothing as something. This lets it escape ontotheology, yet without lack. The silent ‘a’ of différance passes by unheard, like the intonation of this modern question: why something rather than nothing? This inscribed trace, which ‘continues to signal’, is the non-productive production we found in Plotinus and in Spinoza. (In Plotinus the One was the all, while the all was the One; in Spinoza God is Nature, Nature is God.) The trace is, according to Derrida, ‘nothing’.28 It is for this reason that ‘in a certain sense thought means nothing’.29 Just as ‘deconstruction is nothing’.

In a sense the trace, like différance, is before presence and absence, as it is a non-origin that is originary.31 This is the nothing as something, which for Derrida is an occultation, a ‘disappearing of the ground necessary for appearing itself’:32 this sounds like Hegel and, as we shall see later, also resembles moves made by both Sartre and Lacan. From where does this trace issue without origins? It proceeds from the work of Plotinus, who tells us that the ‘trace of the One makes essence, being is only the trace of the One’.33 We know that, for Derrida, the trace is nothing and that this trace, according to Plotinus, is the trace of the One which is itself otherwise than Being and therefore nothing. This double bind resides within différance as ‘primordial non-self-presence’.34 (Maybe this is a hyper non-being, an immanentised negation that becomes ‘plenitudinal’.) Derrida speaks of this Plotinian transgression:

In a perhaps unheard of fashion, morphe, arche, and telos still signal. In a sense, or a non-sense, that metaphysics would have excluded from its field, while nevertheless remaining in secret and incessant relation with this sense, form would in itself already be the trace (ikhnos) of a certain nonpresence, the vestige of the un-formed, which announces-recalls its other, as did Plotinus . . . The closure of metaphysics, the closure that the audaciousness of the Enneads seems to indicate by transgressing.35

For Derrida we must think of ‘différance as temporalization, différance as spacing’.36 It seems that this is another Plotinian trace. It was Plotinus who may have initiated a ‘new subjectivity’, a new temporality.

This temporality is the audacity of ‘subjectivity’. Audacity, as the unquiet faculty of the soul stirs a desire, initiating a progression. The soul refusing to see all at once, all as the One, generates an endless alterity, an otherness which is the act of procession away from others (aie heterotes).
(We find this Plotinianism in Alain Badiou’s notion of the ‘Two’.) As Plotinus says, ‘time begins with the soul-movement’. It is with Plotinus’ use of the word parakolouthesis that ‘a term translatable by “consciousness” appears in philosophy’.41 Furthermore, the term synaisthesis hautou, meaning self-perception in the sense of self-consciousness, also appears for the first time in the Plotinian text. Time is no longer the image of eternity, there is no Cosmic time, or recollection of eternal truths.

Plotinus tells us of this new time: ‘So it stirred from its rest and that state too stirred with it; they stirred themselves toward a future that was ceaselessly new, a state not identical with the preceding one but different and ever changing. And after having traversed a portion of the outgoing path they produced time.’43 Soul moves itself audaciously away into difference; alterity being the principle of procession.44 Motion measures this ‘subjectivity’. What we find is that time is an intensive expression of heteronomy as endless consciousness. This expression pays witness to the silent provision of that which is. By this is meant the provision of being in the absence of being. Contemplation causes this passage of time as it produces the production of bodies: ‘I contemplate and the lines of bodies realise themselves as if they fell from me.’45 But that which is produced is produced within a ‘silent vision’.46 It is here that we notice the heritage bequeathed to différance. Différance silently produces language (doing so by silencing language), for it ‘goes without saying’, like the ‘a’ of the written différance, to ‘speak of a letter’ which cannot be heard nor apprehended in speech.

Différance is the trace of the Plotinian One, which is non-being. Furthermore, différance temporalises and spatialises. It is for this reason that Derrida will announce that ‘at this very moment in this work here I am’. In this moment Spinoza and Plotinus are conjoined. Différance is ‘transcendentally’ generating the space for time and the time for space, in terms of a certain ‘subjectivisation’ of reception. The temporality of time and the spacing of space are found in the ‘I am’, ‘which goes with- out saying’. ‘I am time’, a possession which is a procession, allowing space to measure itself within this endless arrival: to occupy its own space. The space which space occupies is that of an audacious ‘work’, an ergetic generative becoming. (By this term I intend to imply work: Descartes’ ‘I think therefore I am’, is an example of this in so far as the cogito must do something to be. In this case, the cogito must think.) This ‘I am’ is comparable to the Deus of Spinoza’s Ethics. God is immanentised within the arrival of a ‘work’, which can be thought of as ‘nature’. Nature and God arrive together, each as the other. This divinity is the effect of the trace, just as we saw that the Plotinian (and Avicennian) One requires the finite, arriving only within the finite (as the arrival of the finite). The arrival of the effects, which are always already within the movement of différance, belies the differing and the delay of all that does ‘come’. God is different and deferred, in that God is an endless act of Nature, while Nature is an eternal God. Consequently, it too remains different and delayed. As with Spinoza, both terms cancel each other out yet, in so doing, an appearance is ‘allowed’. This is the nothing as something." [Genealogy of Nihilism]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:42 pm

Cunningham wrote:
"For example, because thought and being are not the same, accidents happen, tragedy arises. But the danger is that if one simply renames life as tragic, tragedy disappears, for its now ‘metaphysical’ status – its reality – leaves it without the requisite space for tragedy to occur. To put it another way, to say that the world is full of suffering and so is meaningless, is to dilute the very suffering that initially motivated the negative judgement: there is suffering in life, therefore life is meaningless, therefore there is no suffering. Absurdity and nihilism operate in a similar fashion, for they are names that settle into the gap between being and thought, reforging a novel chain. This is the ‘Devil of the Gaps’, who is a bridge to the void, after which it lusts." [Genealogy of Nihilism]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:49 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:51 pm

Cunningham wrote:
"The word "provide" stems etymologically from two words: videre, meaning to see, and pro, meaning before. One can infer from this that the provenance of nihilism is a provision which occurs in the absence of that which is supposed to be given. For example, to be without being.
This provenance gives its provisions before they are seen, that is, in their absence. We see this nothingness in the predicament in which modern discourse finds itself, namely that it cannot speak without causing that about which it is speaking to disappear." [Genealogy of Nihilism]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:40 am

Quote :
Love is an action, an action of giving, not taking.
"For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his one and only son.." - John 3:16
"If you're not ready to sacrifice your ego and be ready to give yourself, you cannot love--only when you're ready to surrender yourself and put the needs of someone else before yours then you can truly love." - Mom ‪#‎momswisdom‬
<"Love your God"
"Love your neighbor"
"Love your spouse"
"Love your enemies">
- Bible
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:29 pm

In the modern world, the middle man must be transparent in order for the looming authority to shine through to maintain consistency and structure that makes up the perfection of submission. In a time of excessive nihilism combined with the limitations of resources, over population, environmental abuse, further combined with the influence of materialistic, constant consumption, those standards of perfection deteriorates the consistency and structure, thus creating and pushing the ghastly sight, perception of human decay.

The distance of the authority is what determines the standards of perfection, the less intimate the relationship the more immediate the destruction, where the lack of identity becomes a chaotic projection. The authority will not risk close intimacy, on a mental level due to natural human variations, which will eventually develop into sects, different types of interpretation which eventually presents a disturbance to the overall control, especially when it is emotionally fueled.

The modern authority's middleman is of a technical nature, a lack of emotion and a lack of rationale, robotic formation, a specialized condition, reiteration and a regurgitation. Occasionally, the slide drops, the record skips and the process is sent into a momentary frenzy, a confusion, a black hole that exists between the transition between the previous intimate middleman and the new modern inanimate medium, and the distant vague power source. . Occasionally,  it consumes the being completely.

The black hole is constantly occurring, the closing of it still draws side effects and collateral damage, relative to the degree of closing, the period in time, and genetic response. The side effects and collateral damaged leads to the majority of modern mental illnesses increased and perpetuated by a momentary consciousness within the synapse.

Relative to genetic response, natural resilience and degrees of comprehension allows certain particular individuals to withstand the reality, the consciousness of this moment, thus developing the ability to move through it. A type of time travel, self transportation, into the self, to reconnect to an "area" of reality that the individual descends from, returns and becomes.

Quantity becomes the degradation of quality, that which has persistently existed has split, the reconnection from that split, is where the consistency of quality exists relative to that which it connects to. If a “positive” connection is made, e.g, a quality mixed with a quality, it takes on a different form, losing its purity, but gaining strength, or advantages. If a “negative” connection is made then the high quality, longer existing duration, is tarnished. The less existing quality, on the other side of the connection is improved.  If a lack of quality is mixed with a lack of quality results in increasing reduction of quality, the modern nihilistic environment turns into quantity, due to previous excessive mixing bordering consistently on the negative side of the spectrum in the context of quality, and mixing.

If a high quality is mixed with high quality, high relative to the resistance from self, occurring “equally” on both sides, determines the overall strength of this new form, forms which exist in all aspects of the human condition.

If low quality is mixed with low quality, intrinsic less resistance from self automatically results into quantities, weakness and increased likelihood of death, at the same rate of propagation of this particular mixing, which is used and encouraged in modern society.
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:59 pm

The “spiritualized” symbolization of the act of sex, becomes a memetic filtration of genetic reproduction. In previous cultures, relative to genetic isolation, this memetic social mechanism takes on a protective binding form of reproduction, where the genetic isolation disallows for any natural interference, physically.. the memetic circumstance of this allows for the fluidity of the reproductive cycle in the social circuit, usually increasing or extending quality relative to the symbolization.

The modern symbolization of sex is less spiritual, without the boundaries of genetic isolation, memetically welcoming interference, protecting and encouraging it specifically, losing its binding aspect to quality, thus producing excessive inconsistencies with no connection to the past, or previous memetic binding, they become both artificial and primal in base functioning. Artificial, in this context, becomes the removal of self knowledge allowing direct access to the primal functioning of the being, where quantities of this becomes easier to control, akin to a hundred sheep and one dog.
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:10 pm

I consider nihilism many things. One thing it is for a human, is hypocrity.
The mind is made of meanings, and thoughts are all meanings.
But the whole mind can betray meaning and say there is no meaning.
This is a type of hypocrity.
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:59 pm

Nihilism is not "many things" it is one disposition towards reality, world, which manifests itself in multiple ways, because it is nihilistic.

At its most basic it is a noumenon, an abstraction, that has no reference outside minds - depending on being present in multiple minds to remain "meaningful".
It is a meme not founded on genes which have emerged within natural rather than artificial environments.

A rabbit, to use the example they used to describe the r/K selected types, is a type evolved in nature to feed on resources that are in abundance.
it is because resources are in abundance that the particular species evolved as it is.
No intervention had to precede.
Their r-selection is naturally produced.

But with human r-selected types the process is different.
Nihilism is this inversion.  
It is the K-selected that establish the stability, safety, order, abundance that then makes r-selection possible.
Abundance of resources, absence or reduction of culling, is the artificially produced and maintained environmental condition, one of many, which then allows the r-selection to emerge as a symptom of decay, decline, which will bring the process back to K-selection.

It is BECAUSE a population is protected from culling that mutations, within it, will multiply and compound; it is BECAUSE ideas are protected and offered respect, no matter how absurd they are, that ideas multiply and are only limited by human imagination and the rule that prevents the disturbance of another's fantasies; it is BECAUSE nihilists detach from world, or detach their abstractions/noumena, and the words that represent them, form phenomena, the apparent, that they can display a variety of different theories, and ideals, and not because they are intelligent or more creative, or free-thinkers.

I've explained in my own thesis how it is male dominance which makes emasculation possible - it is male innovation, in pursuit of dominance, in these sperm-wars, which then invents the environment, and the techniques/technologies which make males obsolete, and with this obsolescence the cycles begins its downward cycle.
To use another example...it was the Roman Empires dominance that made its own decline inevitable.

When herbivores decline, so do the numbers of carnivores, until the carnivores are so few herbivores begin to multiply, once, more, on veneration which is now recovering from its decline due to herbivores increasing.
The symptoms of r-selection in humans is part of this cycle of ascent and then descent - the Dark Ages come gradually, and they begin from a Golden Age.

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:37 pm

It is existing in human circulation, the level of self sacrifice determines the direction and confirms the depth of the nihilism, in this time, it manifests as a human, or the worship of ideals manifesting as a human. By noticing the depth, you can understand the current manifestation. The hiding of genes, polishing over everything where the worship of the ideal human becomes a hopeful coping mechanism, like a personal yes man whilst setting the standard at the same time. This loop leads to increasing artificiality, self-denial and deception. The standards are mostly fixed with little variation, which allows for the emerging unity to manifest in the physical, just as much as anywhere else, which reinforces the self of no self, continuously.
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Thu Oct 15, 2015 5:01 pm

Liberalism is the social lubricant to communicate the nihilistic meme, allowing the birthing of other similar memes even if it  negates the previous meme. Liberalism allows for the meme to be meaningful even if it is not shared among everybody, liberalism created a secure social language that protects the flow of the meme being communicated, irrespective of a positive or negative connection, it either increases the meme in it's shared understanding and grows, or it increases the development of another meme. This is necessary in modern times in order to manage the excessive reality of the r-selection types, it is the only way that a large amount of humans can coexit without there being a large amount of  confrontation, especially if there is no culling.

The meme becomes meaningful and meaningless at the same time and all is kept on an artificial friendly level. It is  a social language that encourages the meaninglessness of words, allowing the extent to be pushed in any direction at any extreme, thus impacting written/spoken language in it's own evolving process into an artificial realm which reinforces the nihilistic loop of words, thoughts and focus. The human will is then bounded into the so called unbounded, also known as freedom. The boundaries are not perceived because reality is not perceived. All is apparently known in the unknown.
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:26 am

A modern world of only prose, a uni-verse with no single poet, or even justice, it seems.. no metrical structure as a defining factor, an early return to the beast masquerading as truth, a brutal honesty? Can truth ever be expressed so bluntly without losing its value...thus value of impact..but what is true as always been true, beast or not, a depth into itself when the truth of itself to itself is hidden, but blatantly clear to all else, the depth signifies the reality of the truth to those who can see..the increasing artificiality of the beast without the development in between..

Who can see?

and this has always been predetermined hasn't it? in the predetermination you will find death easy, a big deal without it being a big deal, but not the modern pretend fearless negation, but a profound acceptance where reality can not become anymore real...but only your increasing exposure to it..

Is this oasis just a comprehending consistency...and relation..?




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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:24 pm

The embracing of fear to deal with fear. The fear of God eases the fear of death. A fear that brings an acceptability to a submissive nature, a nature then in a state of comfort bypasses the fear of death, and apparently death itself. How then can there ever be comfort in a time of fear? submissiveness testifies to an obedience, an obedience towards the will of the one who transcends all?... Can there ever be any comfort without true obedience? It is clear what the heart, soul and mind of any person bears at the time of their death and the way they react to the circumstance that brings about their death in the way that it does.

How many men have died before God?
How many men have died before Queens and Princesses..

How many men have just..died?

Then is this modern master not open to all? Perhaps, a more feminized welcoming where submission in any form is acceptable..a quicker exit? a mindfulness for the mindless?...

Then is an honorable death a more satisfying death..before a queen? ..on a battlefield..more personal than god? more real..

Or taking into the consideration, the modern martyr, who doesn't know he is a martyr..A soldier who dies before a system...ah but all this honor, dignity, integrity stuff is no longer necessary..when the simple promises of better future living conditions are on the table. ...if he makes it out.. then he can return and go on to enjoy a basic built house with central heating..

The truthful spirit of masculinity, where power is recognized using a reference to itself where the realization of personal power brings about an appreciation for the other's higher level of power...is.. really.. not... present..

Entering respect and responsibility..or the lack thereof in modern times..who knew that respect and responsibility can bring so many wonderful things..then what becomes of life without such things?

but why stop there? even respect and responsibility are held in judgement and understood, or even a tool to be used...or perhaps those words just send your flow into a different direction..on the same road where you might find worth and pride..

how taken are you?...

Oh well, I guess Dorothy's red ruby slippers allows her to leave home without actually leaving home..a comforting safety net before her feet...you know, needed in case of an emergency..and other types of emergencies..namely period blood, giving the red slippers a cool looking trail effect on the yellow brick road....Good thing those shoes have teleportation ability ..because that period blood might signal sexual maturity ..probably not a good idea on a road where lions and others reside..

This place makes for a good gathering hidden in plain view with a philosophical garden....

What are the other angles?

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Sat Nov 14, 2015 7:16 pm

Soo there's a guy, right..Who intentionally visits art galleries and believes that the painting hes sees to be the reality he is in, where he is the painting..a living one..ah a brainwashed mind, all very sparkling clean, never needing a wash ever again..so pure with no diversion, there will be no change within this change, the continuation of the change, changing in no other way than to itself, but only a similar extension of itself within the overall change, you might find reality here..or NOT!..This defines the particular nature of change for that individual aspect of change..the other aspects are of a constant changing change with a less similar extension of change..

Boo!

Yeah, words were never perfect, but they use to be pretty close! now that they are turned inwards, the simple becomes incredibly difficult..ah you know, like a bunch a grapes hanging from a tree that you just can't seem to reach regardless of your aggressive hunger!

Geez guy, all this interaction can become dangerous, oh hello, Paris..I guess she really did underestimate young desperate fatherless boys..well, i suspect if she shaved her armpit hair then their attention may have taken a different direction..Then it would of been really interesting ..like a war within himself, like the lost desperation to please his father vs the self hatred sexual expression of satisfying a white woman..hmm which one will hold his mind the longest..but his self-destruction was always inevitable.. a death of a single woman or the death of a hundred or so concert goers..

Trying to make the discrepancies positive doesn't seem to be working anymore..perhaps the modern can find another way to build a bridge to a better reality..
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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:24 pm

Daniel Bell wrote:
"What literature toward the end of the nineteenth century was trying to grasp, within the convention of words and sentences, was the sense of life not as successive discrete entities but as a stream-of-consciousness. The phrase is William James's, and appears in a chapter in his Principles of Psychology of 1890; it became widely known through its central position in the popular Psychology: The Briefer Course, published in 1892. The notion of a stream-of- consciousness implies that even where there is a time gap, the consciousness after the elapsed time still overlaps with the consciousness before the interval, so that experienced time is not chronological but simultaneous. Of equal importance to our sense of meaning, when we experience time as a stream-of-consciousness, the transitive elements of that stream have as much meaning and impact as the substantive points which denote entities. As James writes in a striking passage:

"We ought to say a feeling of and, a feeling of if, a feeling of but, and a feeling of by, quite as readily as we say a feeling of blue or a feeling of cold. Yet we do not: so inveterate has our habit become of recognizing the existence of the substantive parts alone, that language almost refuses to lend itself to any other use."

While conventional language held to a sense of ordered substantives bridged by the transitive prepositions, modernist literature has sought to emphasize these transitive elements as the synapses which carry the nerve impulses of feeling, to plunge one into the maelstrom of sensations. The effort is anticipated by Flaubert in Madame Bovary. In the scene at the country fair (I follow the exposition of Joseph Frank), on the street there is the surging, jos- tling mob, mingling with the livestock. Raised slightly above the street on a platform are the bombastic, speech-making officials. From a window in the inn overlooking the spectacle are the lovers Emma and Rodolphe, watching the proceedings and carrying on their conversation in stilted phrases. "Everything should sound simultaneously," Flaubert later wrote, in commenting on the scene; "one should hear the bellowing of cattle, the whispering of the lovers, and the rhetoric of the officials all at the same time." But since language proceeds in time, it is impossible to create this si- multaneity of experience except by breaking up temporal sequence. And this is exactly what Flaubert does: he dissolves the sequence by cutting back and forth (the cinematographic analogy is quite deliberate), and in a final crescendo the two sequences—M. le Pres- ident citing Cincinnatus and Rodolphe describing the irresistibly magnetic attraction between lovers—are juxtaposed in a single sentence to reach a unified effect.

This spatialization of form (to use Joseph Frank's phrase) inter- rupts the time-flow of a narrative to fix attention on the interplay of relationships within an immobilized time area. It is one strategy to capture what James called the "perceptual flux." The other, which is at the heart of the experiments of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, is to immerse the reader in the stream of time itself. In Jacob's Room (1922), Virginia Woolf creates a shift of sensibility through the interaction of images which dissolve into one another. In Mrs. Dalloway (1925), the story of one day in the life of a woman, the technique of flashbacks creates the stream-of- consciousness. In The Waves (1931), the novel has become entirely a series of interior monologues. Joyce's Ulysses (1922), in the most extraordinary display of virtuosity, exhibits all the techniques of the assemblages of time and emphasizes the idea of shifting perspecfives, not only by juxtapositions and flashbacks but also by the adoption of a different style for each chapter, so as to emphasize the multiple ways a story can be told. And Gertrude Stein, in the ear- liest effort of all (The Making of Americans, published in 1925 but written zo years before), seeks to exemplify her idea of "time- knowledge" (but not "narrative") by writing the total and repeti- tious history of a family (the book runs to 900 pages) almost entirely in the present tense. As she observed about the novel:

. . . in The Making of Americans . . . I gradually and slowly found out there were two things I had to think about: the fact that knowledge is acquired, so to speak, by memory; but when you know anything, memory doesn't come in. At any moment that you are conscious of knowing anything, memory plays no part. When any of you feels anybody else, memory doesn't come into it. You have the sense of the immediate.

. . . I was trying to get this present immediacy without trying to drag in anything else. I had to use present participles, new constructions of grammar. The grammar-constructions are correct, but they are changed, in order to get this immediacy. In short, from that time I have been trying in every possible way to get the sense of immediacy, and practically all the work I have done has been in that direction.

In music one finds similar patterns of change. In the modernist canon there has been a growing obsession with sound—that is, with the foreground alone. The change from Wagner to Schoenberg indicates this transition.

The period from 1890 to 1930 was the great period of modernism, in its brilliant explorations of style and its dazzling experiments of form. In the 45 years since, there has been almost no innovation that was not attempted in that period, with the exception of those efforts to fuse technology with music or technology with painting and sculpture (e.g., the "environments" created by Rauschenberg, in which the patterns of light and the arrangement of "sculpture" are changed randomly by the weight of the spectators on pressure mats or the heat effects of a spectator's body on sensors), efforts that put the burden of art on memory (rather than on objects), yet which have left nothing memorable. If there has been a single aesthetic it has been the effort to destroy the idea of the object. This began with a changing conception of the "duration" of art. Tchelitchew once complained that the paintings of Picasso would not last more than 50 years because of the quality of the canvas, and Picasso shrugged. There were the experiments in art as self-destruction, in the machinesof Tinguely; or as "instantaneous events," such as the "flashlight pictures" that Picasso "drew" for Clouzot (which are recorded on film). If there was a new aesthetic it was the effort, as analyzed by Harold Rosenberg, to define the meaning of painting in "action," arguing that the value of the painting lay not in the object produced, but in the action of the painter in producing it; and what the spectator had to learn to appreciate was not the image he saw,but the suggestion of kinesthetic activity behind it. For an art that was thus oriented to the "new," a remarkable burden was being placed on "memory" to sustain it.

The extraordinary point is that in all the arts—painting, poetry, fiction, music—the modernist impulse has a common syntax of expression underlying the diverse nature of the genres. It is, as I have said, the eclipse of distance between the spectator and the artist, between the aesthetic experience and the work of art. One sees this as the eclipse of psychic distance, social distance, and aesthetic distance.

The loss of psychic distance means the suspension of time. Freud has said that in the unconscious there is no sense of time: one experiences the events of the past not as if they were of the present; but with the immediacy, the actualite, of the present. This is why the unconscious, with its storehouse of the past, and especially of childhood terrors, remains so threatening and has to be held down. The meaning of maturity, for Freud, was the ability to interpose the necessary distance, a sense of past and present, in order to make the necessary distinctions between what was past, as past, and what derived from the present. But the thrust of modernist culture is to disrupt or break up that sense of past and present. In Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, sensory experience awakens involuntary memory, showing how deeply the past remains within us and how it can overcome the present.

All of this, inevitably, creates a distortion of commonsense per- ception in the total range of human experience. The effect of im- mediacy, impact, simultaneity, and sensation as the mode of aesthetic —and psychological—experience is to dramatize each moment, to increase our tensions to a fever pitch, and yet to leave us without a resolution, reconciliation, or transforming moment, which is the catharsis of a ritual. This is necessarily the case, since the effects that are created derive not from content (some transcendental call, a transfiguration, or a purgation through tragedy or suffering) but almost entirely from technique. There is constant stimulation and dis- orientation, yet there is also emptiness after the psychedelic moment has passed. One is enveloped and thrown about, given a psychic "high" or the thrill of the edge of madness; yet beyond the involvement in the whirlwind of the senses, there are the dull routines of everyday life. In the theater the curtain falls, the play ends. In life one has to go home, go to bed, awaken the next morning, brush one's teeth, wash one's face, shave, defecate, and go to work. Everyday time, necessarily, is different from psychedelic time; and how far can this disjunction be stretched?

The search for the modern was a search for the heightening of experience in all dimensions, and the attempt to make those experi- ences immediate to the sensibility of people. Yet there is every indication that we have come to the end of that phase, at least in the element of high culture (if such a conception is still possible), especially as these searches have passed over into the vulgarizations of the cultural mass. The literature of modernity—the literature of Yeats, Lawrence, Joyce, and Kafka—was a literature which, as Lionel Trilling put it, took "to itself the dark power which certain aspects of religion once exercised over the human mind." It was, in its private way, concerned with spiritual salvation. But its succes- sors seem to have lost concern with salvation itself. In this sense, present-day art has become post-modern and post-Christian.

The new sensibility was a redemption of the senses from the mind. "Sensations, feelings, the abstract forms and styles of sensibil- ity count. It is to these that contemporary art addresses itself . . . we are what we are able to see (hear, taste, smell, feel) even more powerfully and profoundly than we are what furniture of ideas we have stocked in our heads."

Moreover, "if art is understood as ... a programming of sensa- tions, then the feeling (or sensation) given off by a Rauschenberg painting might be like that of a song by the Supremes." Thus, further distinctions were erased, and sophisticated painting and popular music became equally valid for the "reorganization of con- sciousness" (or of the "sensorium"), which was now proclaimed as the function of art. In all this there was a "democratization" of culture in which nothing could be considered high or low, a syncretism of styles in which all sensations mingled equally, and a world of sensibility which was accessible to all.

If there was a democratization of culture in which a radical egali- tarianism of feeling superseded the older hierarchy of mind, there was also, by the end of the 19605, a democratization of "genius." The idea of the artist as genius, as a being apart who (in the de- scription of Edward Shils) "need not regard the laws of society and its authorities" and who aims "only to be guided by the inner neces- sities of the expansion of the self—to embrace new experiences," goes back to the early ipth century. The artist, it was thought, looked at the world from a special point of view. Whistler pro- claimed that artists were a class apart whose standards and aspira- tions stood outside the comprehension of the vulgar. If there was "a conflict between a genius and his public," Hegel declared in a sen- tence which (as Irving Howe has noted) thousands of critics, writers, and publicists have echoed through the years, "it must be the public that is to blame . . . the only obligation the artist can have is to follow truth and his genius."

In France, where the "man of letters," as Tocqueville observed, had long taken the lead in "shaping the national temperament and the outlook on life," this tradition took particularly deep hold. Not only were artists different, by virtue of their genius, from other mortals; they were also intended to be, as Victor Hugo put it, the "sacred leaders" of the nation. Indeed, with the decline of religion, the writer was more and more invested with the prerogatives of the priest, for he was seen as a man endowed with supernatural vision.

In a constricted world, the writer alone was the unadaptable man, the wanderer—like Rimbaud—in perpetual flight from the mun- dane. Joyce in Trieste, Pound in London, Hemingway in Paris, Lawrence in Taos, Allen Ginsberg in India—these are the very prototypes of this artist-hero type in the twentieth century. The pilgrimage to places far from the bourgeois home had become a necessary step in attaining independence of vision. Underlying all of this is the belief that art tells a truth which is higher than that perceived via the ordinary cognitive mode, that the "language" of art, in the words of Herbert Marcuse, "must communicate a truth, an objectivity which is not accessible to ordinary language and ordinary experience."

But what if, as Lionel Trilling has wryly observed (in a view which even "rather surprises" himself), ". . . art does not always tell the truth or the best kind of truth and does not always point out the right way"? What if art "can even generate falsehood and habituate us to it, and . . . on frequent occasions . . . might well be subject, in the interests of autonomy, to the scrutiny of the rational intellect"?

This question is perhaps too large to be gone into here. But the exaltation of the artistic vision above all others also raises another, more pressing question: If the language of art is not accessible to ordinary language and ordinary experience, how can it be accessible to ordinary people? One solution of the 19605 was to make each man his own artist-hero. In May 1968 the students at the f',cole des Beaux Arts in Paris called for a development of consciousness which would guide the "creative activity immanent in every individual," so that the "work of art" and "the artist" would become "mere moments in this activity." And a 1969 catalogue of revolutionary art at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm carried this injunction further by declaring that "Revolution is Poetry. There is poetry in all those acts which break the system of organization." But such activist pronouncements—and the 19605 were not lacking in them—do not solve the problem of modernism, they only evade it.

"Action" art thus brought "action" response, and every man became his own artist. But in the process, all notion of objective judgment went by the board.

The democratization of genius is made possible by the fact that while one can quarrel with judgments, one cannot quarrel with feelings. The emotions generated by a work either appeal to you or they don't, and no man's feelings have more authority than another man's. With the expansion of higher education, and the growth of a semi-skilled intelligentsia, moreover, a significant change has taken place in the scale of all this. Large numbers of people who might previously have been oblivious to the matter now insist on the right to participate in the artistic enterprise—not in order to cultivate their minds or sensibilities, but to "fulfill" their personalities. Both in the character of art itself and in the nature of the response to it, the concern with self takes precedence over any objective standards.

This development has not been unforeseen. Thirty years ago Karl Mannheim warned that:

. . . the open character of democratic mass society, together with its growth in size and the tendency toward general public participation, not only produces far too many elites but also deprives these elites of the exclusiveness which they need for the sublimation of impulse. If this minimum of exclusiveness is lost, then the deliberate formulation of taste, of a guiding principle of style, becomes impossible. The new impulses, intuitions and fresh approaches to the world, if they have no time to mature in small groups, will be apprehended by the masses as mere stimuli…" [Capitalism]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:26 pm

Daniel Bell wrote:
"The prototype of the new sensibility in the drama was the Living Theatre, organized by Julian Beck and Judith Malina. After traveling in Europe for several years, the troupe evolved a new style of random action and preached a form of revolutionary anarchism. Their new credo was that "the theater must be set free" and "taken out into the street." In words reminiscent of Marinetti's Futuristic Manifesto, Beck launched an attack on the theater of the past:

All forms of the theater of lies will go.. . . We don't need Shakespeare's objective wisdom, his sense of tragedy reserved only for the experience of the high-born. His ignorance of collective joy makes him useless to our time. It is important not to be seduced by the poetry. That is why Artaud says, "Burn the Texts."

In fact the whole theater of the intellect will go. The theater of our century, and centuries past, is a theater whose presentation and appeal is intellectual. One leaves the theater of our time and goes and thinks. But our thinking, conditioned by our already conditioned minds, is so corrupt that it is not to be trusted.

In the United States of the 19605, where the children of the afflu- ent played, sometimes fatally, at revolution, and toyed, sometimes fatally, with hallucination, it was inevitable that theories like those behind Artaud's "Theater of Cruelty" would become fashionable without ever being really understood. For in all the talk which went on during this period about the theater as ritual, there was a curi- ous sense of emptiness, lack of conviction, and sheer theatricality.

Ritual, as fimile Durkheim has pointed out, depends first of all upon a clear distinction between the sacred and the profane, agreed upon by all participants in the culture. Ritual guards the portals of the sacred, and one of its functions is to preserve those taboos es- sential to an ongoing society through the sense of awe that ritual invokes; ritual, in other words, is a dramatized representation of sacred power. In a society which does not, however, start with this fundamental distinction between two realms of being, and which denies all notions of a hierarchy of ordered values, how can there be anything like meaningful ritual?

What the new theater called ritual devolved inevitably upon some celebration of violence. At first the violence remained within the confines of the work itself—as in the rite of exorcism'in The Blacks, in which the murder of a white man by a black is symbolically reenacted. Later, however, when the hunger for sensation had escalated into a demand for something more lifelike, happenings gradually came to replace written plays as the chief arena for the enactment of violence. The theater only simulates life, after all,but in a happening real blood could—and did—flow. In the "Destruction in Art" symposium held in the Judson Church in New York in 1968, one of the participants suspended a live white chicken from the ceiling, swung it back and forth, and then snipped off its head with a pair of hedge clippers. He then placed the severed head between his legs, inside his unzippered fly, and proceeded to hammer the insides of a piano with the carcass. At the Cinematheque in

1968, the German artist Herman Nitsch disemboweled a sheep on- stage, poured the entrails and blood over a young girl, and nailed the carcass of the animal to a cross. At this happening, performers of the Orgy-Mystery Theater hurled quantities of blood and animal intestines over each other, presumably reenacting the taurobolium rite of Rome, where a sacrificial bull was slaughtered over the head of a man in a pit as part of his initiation into the Phrygian mysteries. Both these events were reported, with pictures, in the magazine Art in America. Another event presided over by Mr. Nitsch, involv- ing the ritual slaughter of an animal, was featured in a front-page picture in the Village Voice.

Traditionally, violence has been repugnant to the intellectual as a confession of failure. In discourse, individuals resorted to force only when they had lost the power of persuasion by means of reason. So, too, in art the resort to force—in the sense of a literal reenactment of violence on the canvas, on the stage, or on the written page-— signified that the artist, lacking the artistic power to suggest the emotion, was reduced to invoking the shock of it directly.

But in the 1960's violence was justified not only as therapy but as a necessary accompaniment to social change. Watching the children of the French upper bourgeoisie mouth the phrases of violence and chant from Mao's Little Red Book in Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise, one realized that a corrupt romanticism was covering some dreadful drive to murder. Similarly, in Godard's Weekend, where a real slaughter of live animals takes place, one realized that the roots of a sinister blood-lust were being touched, not for catharsis but for kicks.

What the rhetoric of revolution permits—both in the new sensi- bility and the new politics—is the eradication of the line between playacting and reality, so that life (and such "revolutionary" ac- tions as demonstrations) is played out as theater, while the craving for violence, first in the theater and then in the street demonstrations, becomes a necessary psychological drug, a form of addiction." [Capitalism]

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:20 am


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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:01 pm

The takes on Nihilism so far, are all imbalanced.
[Gillespie is a Heideggerian.]

Quote :
"Nihilism originated as a distinct philosophical concept in the 18th century. As Michael Gillespie reports, “the concept of nihilism first came into general usage as a description of the danger [German] idealism posed for the intellectual, spiritual, and political health of humanity. The first to use the term in print was apparently F. L. Goetzius in his De nonismo et nihilism in theologia (1733).” Tracts portraying Kantian critical philosophy as a form of nihilism appeared near the end of the century, but it would fall to F.H. Jacobi to give the first explicit formulation of the concept. Convinced that idealism posed an existential threat to traditional Christian belief, Jacobi attacked both Kant and Fichte, the former in his essay, “Idealism and Nihilism,” and the latter in a letter to Fichte in 1799. He branded Fichte’s philosophy as nihilism by drawing a stark contrast between a steadfast faith in a God beyond human subjectivity and an insatiable reason that, as Otto Poeggeler puts it, “perceives only itself” and “dissolves everything that is given into the nothingness of subjectivity.” Jacobi believed that idealism entailed a lopsided focus on human subjectivity that not only shut out the divine, but severed itself from any external reality whatsoever, including nature. If things-in-themselves cannot be cognized, and actuality itself is but a category of the understanding, then it seems to follow that things-in-themselves do not actually exist. Idealism shifts, to use Gilson’s formulation, from the “exterior to the interior,” but does not make the move from the “interior to the superior”; in fact, it does not “move” at all, since the exterior—nature—is regarded as a realm of mere appearances. For Jacobi, it is only through a decisive act of will, a recognition of the stark either/or before us and a resolute commitment to God, that humans can find their proper place. As Jacobi challenges Fichte: “God is and is outside of me, a living essence that subsists for itself, or I am God. There is no third possibility."

Three things stand out in this passage. First, Jabobi is simultaneously charging Fichte with pantheism and atheism, positions he regards as basically identical. Before mounting his assault on idealism, Jacobi had argued that Spinoza’s pantheism was actually atheism. Jacobi seems to have regarded Fichte’s idealism as a doomed attempt to marry the focus on freedom in Descartes and Kant to Spinoza’s holistic and divinized view of nature. So nihilism is portrayed as emerging, roughly speaking, out of attempts to integrate modern conceptions of freedom and nature. Second, Jacobi’s denial of a “third way” is, as we will see, a common complaint among critics of nihilism, or of philosophies alleged to be nihilistic. Those who cannot accept the basic dualities and either/or’s of existence, so the thinking goes, attempt to sublate them in elaborate monistic philosophies that bend logic and language beyond their breaking points in order to chart a third way--to, in Kierkegaard’s turn of biblical phrase, join what God has separated. The attempt to include everything ends up embracing nothing. Third, it is more than a little ironic that Jacobi’s fideistic focus on the will, intended as an antidote to nihilism, would later be pointed to as a symptom of nihilism by Nietzsche because the will is directed toward a false object (God) and by Heidegger because the triumph of the will in modern thought is the fruition of the ancient seed of metaphysics, the drive to frame being as presence.

On Löwith’s telling,
Ever since the middle of the [19th] century, the construction of the history of Europe has not proceeded according to a schema of progress, but instead according to that of decline. This change began not at the end of the century but rather at its beginning, with Fichte’s lectures, which he saw as an age of ‘perfected iniquity.’ From there, there proceeds through European literature and philosophy an uninterrupted chain of critiques...which decisively condition not simply the academic but the actual intellectual history between Hegel and Nietzsche. The state of Being in decline along with one’s own time is also the ground and soil for Heidegger’s ‘destruction,’ for his will to dismantle and rebuild, back to the foundations of a tradition which has become untenable.

Fichte’s indictment of the present age would be the prototype for a long list of scathing critiques of modern society, from Kierkegaard’s The Present Age to Nietzsche’s Untimely Meditations. Once Hegel had, as Löwith puts it, “made the negation of what exists” the principle of genuine philosophy, the task of philosophy would widely become identified with Zeitdiagnose, and the role of the philosopher was to become, as Nietzsche put it, the physician of culture. Löwith shows how this spirit is embodied by thinkers as disparate as Marx and Kierkegaard:
Marx’s worldly critique of the bourgeois-capitalist world corresponds to Kierkegaard’s critique of the bourgeois-Christian world, which is as foreign to Christianity in its origins as the bourgeois or civil state is to a polis. That Marx places the outward existential relations of the masses before a decision and Kierkegaard the inward existential relation of the individual to himself, that Marx philosophizes without God and Kierkegaard before God—these apparent oppositions have as a common presupposition the decay of existence along with God and the world.

Both thinkers, he continues, “conceived ‘what is’ as a world determined by commodities and money, and as an existence defined throughout by irony and boredom.” Marx’s assertion of a purely “human” world and Kierkegaard’s espousal of a “worldless Christianity” both share in common the severance of the human from the natural. For Marx, nature is merely the positum there to be negated and appropriated by human labor. For Kierkegaard, as Walter Kaufmann quips, nature is irrelevant to human life: “He sweeps away the whole conception of a cosmos as a mere distraction... Here is man, and ‘one thing is needful’: a decision.” Hans Jonas, another of Heidegger’s students, detected a similar problem with Heidegger’s own account of human existence: namely, that it did not place humans within any kind of scala natura that is the locus of value. Löwith’s larger point, though, is that the disintegration of the Hegelian vision resulted in a grab bag of incompatible viewpoints usually consisting of a scathing critique of the present, a longing for a lost age, and/or a radical program for individual or social renewal.

Though Lewis does not explicitly mention the specter of nihilism in his classic The Abolition of Man, he clearly laments its corrosive effects on Western civilization and insists it arose largely due to a disruption in humanity’s relationship to nature. The abolition of human nature, he hypothesizes, is the unintended consequence of the attempt to bend nature to human purposes and is the endgame of scientific naturalism. Moreover, this attempt to defeat nature and scrub it free of undesirables results, paradoxically, in nature’s total victory. The more of reality we concede to the objective, value-free domain of “mere nature,” the less free we become; or more precisely, the more freedom becomes a curse, because its polestars for navigating the field of possibilities—an objective morality rooted in nature or the “Tao,” Lewis’ catchall phrase for premodern notions of nature as a cosmos to which humans must conform—have been snuffed out. The human is left with nothing but his drives and instincts to decide how to act; he is left, in other words, with nothing but nature to guide him. But since this is not a cosmic nature with a logos, an ordered hierarchy of matter, body, soul, and spirit, but a nature bereft of reason or moral value, and since reason has been downgraded to a tool and morality whittled down to a matter of preference, it is a matter of the blind leading the blind; a matter, in short, of nihilism. What happens, then, is that whatever someone happens to prefer is called natural. Somehow, the attempt to make everything “natural” ends up denaturing the very notion of nature.

Like Lewis, Rosen describes nihilism as partly the collapse in the belief in objective moral truths, which is abetted by the widespread adoption of a non-normative, instrumental view of reason. Once the will is decoupled from the intellect and no longer choosing from among the ends the intellect presents to it, and once the logos is removed from nature, then there are no longer any objective moral truths that the intellect can apprehend and present to the will as worthy candidates for action. Everything falls to the will, and since the will cannot furnish reasons for acting one way or another—and since reason itself has been relieved of command to do so—then everything is permitted. Rosen defines nihilism in this Nietzschean sense, and asserts that “For those who are not gods, recourse to a [value] creation ex nihilo...reduces reason to nonsense by equating the sense or significance of speech with silence.”

While the premodern task of philosophy, generally speaking, was (partly) to discern the unchanging logos within nature, in the modern period it is expanded to tracing the logos within history—but this leads, somehow, to the paradoxical view that all rational speech is reducible to historical, i.e., contingent, conditions. The strange thing is that such a nihilism can equally accommodate the view that “everything is natural”—since there is no reason or necessity governing human affairs and action, they are merely an arbitrary matter of chance, will, or instinct--and “nothing is natural”—since there are no trans-historical or trans-cultural metaphysical or moral truths and everything, including theses about nature, is a product of history. Rosen insists that the notion of “creativity” played an important part in this process. According to this view, a person’s moral life consists not in obeying the dictates of a conscience common to all or by acting in accordance with his rationally knowable nature, but by being faithful to the oracle of his inner genius, the natural creativity welling up from below. Once creativity, not reason, is enshrined as the center of gravity in human nature, the next logical step is to adopt the view that all speech about being—all philosophy, science, and mathematics—is poetry. Rosen thinks that the influence of historicism on the view of reason and metaphysics, and the effect of the notion of creativity on the view of morality and human nature, are the main causes of the advent of nihilism: “the fundamental problem in a study of nihilism is to dissect the language of historicist ontology with the associated doctrine of human creativity.” Heidegger and Nietzsche are the most important thinkers in this drama; Heidegger because of his attempt to think being in terms of time, and Nietzsche because of his reduction of all human faculties to a creative will to power.

Though their diagnoses of nihilism are unparalleled, Rosen thinks their solutions are flawed because both are victims of the modern “rationalistic view of reason”:
By detaching ‘reasonable’ from ‘good,’ the friends of reason made it impossible to assert the goodness of reason.... If reason is conceived exclusively on the model of mathematics, and if mathematics is itself understood in terms of Newtonian rather than Pythagorean science, then the impossibility of asserting the goodness of reason is the extreme instance of the manifest evil of reason. Reason (we are told) objectifies, reifies, alienates; it debases or destroys the genuinely human.... Man has become alienated from his own authentic or creative existence by the erroneous projection of the supersensible world of Platonic ideas...and so of an autonomous technology, which, as the authentic contemporary historical manifestation of ‘rationalism,’ will destroy us or enslave us to machines.

As such, since the good was not to be found by the light of reason, it had to found somewhere else; but since the very notion of good becomes unintelligible when severed from reason, it was nowhere to be found, and thus had to be created. But since the goodness of this creativity consists in its spontaneity and novelty, it must supply its own criterion and guarantee its own legitimacy.

“Weber,” Bloom observes, “saw that all we care for was threatened by Nietzsche’s insight [that God is dead].... We require values, which in turn require a peculiar human creativity that is drying up and in any event has no cosmic support.” But instead of introducing a mood of despair and a sense of the tragic, nihilism was parlayed into an ethos of self-help, the psychology of self-esteem, a therapeutic culture, and a glib relativism. As Bloom writes, “There is a whole arsenal of terms for talking about nothing—caring, self-fulfillment, expanding consciousness.... Nothing determinate, nothing that has a referent.... American nihilism is a mood, a mood of moodiness, a vague disquiet. It is nihilism without the abyss (CAM 154). What irks Bloom is that Americans embraced the language of value and creativity with such ease, without gleaning their darker implications and ignorant of the turbulent intellectual, cultural, and political history that produced them. Reminiscent of Heidegger’s discussion of idle talk, Bloom notes how the nostrums of nihilism calcify into democratic dogma: “these words are not reasons, nor were they intended to be reasons. All to the contrary, they were meant to show that our deep human need to know what we are doing and to be good cannot be satisfied. By some miracle these very terms became our justification: nihilism as moralism” (CAM 238-9). This form of nihilism is the most insidious because the most unconscious, what Nietzsche called “passive nihilism.” It is the most unconscious because its victims are unaware of their condition and incapable of contemplating alternatives.

Nature has to be branded as indifferent if not hostile to human flourishing in order for the project to make sense, and human nature must be redrawn as a- or pre-political. As Bloom puts it, “Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau all found that one way or another nature led men to war, and that civil society’s purpose was not to cooperate with a natural tendency in man toward perfection but to make peace where nature’s imperfection causes war” (CAM 163). Moreover, nature’s obstacles have to be conceived as surmountable through applied science: “if, instead of fighting one another, we band together and make war on our stepmother [nature], who keeps her riches from us, we can at the same time provide
for ourselves and end our strife. The conquest of nature, which is made possible by the insight of science and by the power it produces, is the key to the political” (CAM 165). But nature has to be conquered in two senses. Before it can be literally conquered via applied science, it must be theoretically transformed from a great chain of being, a cosmos, into an ontologically homogenous plane of extended matter in motion. Just as nature is reduced to its lowest common denominator, politics comes to be based not on virtue or the good, but on the most basic human drives: the fear of death, the desire for comfort, and the goal of self-preservation. This lowering of the human center of gravity—what Strauss called the “low but solid ground” on which the moderns built—is what eventually leads to Nietzsche’s last man.

However, this foundation is highly unstable and its implications are deeply ambiguous. Rousseau was the first to tap the fissure that would grow into the abyss addressed by Nietzsche, and this gap has to do with the new concept of nature. As Bloom writes, “For Hobbes and Locke nature is near and unattractive, and man’s movement into society was easy and unambiguously good. For Rousseau nature is distant and attractive, and the move was hard and divided man” (CAM 169). Rousseau, Bloom writes, realizes just how difficult it is to sever the ontological bond between nature and human nature, and that the attempt to do so creates great confusion: “Now there are two competing views about man’s relation to nature, both founded on the modern distinction between nature and society. Nature is the raw material of man’s freedom from harsh necessity, or else man is the polluter of nature. Nature in both cases means dead nature, or nature without man and untouched by man...” (CAM 173). One view sees nature as the problem, while the other sees humanity as the problem; but both views, and all three thinkers, share the prejudice that nature is “dead,” i.e., bereft of soul or subjectivity and flatly opposed to the human order of history, politics, and society.

Bloom gives an excellent summary of the difference between the ancient and modern views of nature:
[In the modern view,] all higher purposiveness in nature, which might have been consulted by men’s reason and used to limit human passion, had disappeared. Nature tells us nothing about man specifically and provides no imperatives for his conduct.... Man somehow remains a part of nature, but in a different and much more problematic way than in, say, Aristotle’s philosophy, where soul is at the center and what is highest in man is akin to what is highest in nature, or where soul is nature. Man is really only a part and not the microcosm. Nature has no rank order or hierarchy of being, nor does the self (CAM 176).

This is the consequence of the collapse of the cosmos, the same disproportion between humanity and nature that Rosen points to. There are no “natural limits” to the passions, because only the passions are natural, and all claims of reason are taken to be in some way derived from or motivated by them.

Crosby traces many religious and philosophical sources of nihilism through the Western tradition, but here I just want to focus on two of the more general ones, since they bear directly on our conceptions of nature: anthropocentrism and value externalism. Anthropocentrism, he explains, involves the subordination of nature to human beings and stems from the Judeo-Christian assumption that nature must revolve around us: “we humans are either at the pinnacle of a nature regarded as subservient to our needs and concerns, or we are nowhere. Everything in the universe must focus mainly on us and the problems and prospects of our personal existence, or else the universe is meaningless and our lives are drained of purpose” (SA 128). Once these unrealistic expectations are disappointed and we fall back to earth, the alternatives—dualism and materialism— seem unsatisfying. It is as though we had resided so long on a mountaintop that the lowlands came to seem inhospitable. But Crosby points out that our pique at realizing we are not the center of the universe is conditioned by our clinging to anthropocentric views.

He approves of, e.g., Nietzsche’s critique of the Christian view: “Nietzsche is correct when he claims that the anthropomorphic assumption is a fundamental cause of nihilism. ‘We have measured the value of the world,’ he says, ‘according to the categories that refer to a purely fictitious world.... What we find here is still the hyperbolic naievete of man: positing himself as the meaning and measure of the value of things’” (SA 129). This brings us to the second source of nihilism, what Crosby calls the “externality of value.” This notion, he says, “requires that we deny that nature has, or can have, any intrinsic significance; it supposes that the only value or importance it may have is that which is externally bestowed” (SA 131). Originally this assumption took root in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the idea that the goodness of nature and natural beings lay in the fact that they were created by God. Later, however, once the cosmos is collapsed and God disappears, humans replace him as the value-bestowers in chief.

Michael Gillespie offers perhaps the most revisionist account of nihilism, arguing that its roots can be traced from late medieval nominalism to Descartes’ epistemological revolution, Fichte’s absolute idealism, and the “dark side” of Romanticism. The principle source of the concept, he contends, is the rise of the capricious, voluntaristic, omnipotent God unleashed by nominalism. Long before Nietzsche pronounced the death of God, the seed of nihilism was sown by the birth of the God of nominalism. It was not the weakness of the human will that lead to nihilism, but its apotheosis.

According to Gillespie,
"Nietzsche’s definition of nihilism is actually a reversal of the concept as it was originally understood, and...his solution to nihilism is in fact only a deeper entanglement in the problem of nihilism. Contrary to Nietzsche’s account, nihilism is not the result of the death of God but the consequence of the birth or rebirth of a different kind of God, an omnipotent God of will who calls into question all of reason and nature and thus overturns all eternal standards of truth and justice, and good and evil. This idea of God came to predominance in the fourteenth century and shattered the medieval synthesis of philosophy and theology.... This new way was in turn the foundation for modernity as the realm of human self-assertion. Nihilism thus has its roots in the very foundations of modernity…."

Not only is Nietzsche’s diagnosis of the cause of nihilism—the death of God— wrongheaded, but his cure fails because he is unconscious of the prejudices guiding his valorization of the will to power. Nietzsche’s spirituality of the Dionysian over-god-man, try as it might to escape the gravity of Christianity, remains squarely within the ambit of one of its mutations in the transition from the medieval to the modern period. “The Dionysian will to power,” Gillespie writes, “is in fact a further development of the absolute will that first appeared in the nominalist notion of God and became a world-historical force with Fichte’s notion of the absolute I.... Nietzsche’s Dionysus...is thus not an alternative to the Christian God but his final and in a sense greatest modern mask” (NBN xxi). Gillespie’s account is, by his own admission, not entirely original in that it is a modification of Heidegger’s view that Nietzsche was merely the crest of the wave of the will that motored modern philosophy from Descartes onward, but his novel claim is that that power was unleashed by the rupture of the medieval cosmos at the hands of the nominalists.

Gillespie contrasts nominalism with the thoroughgoing realism of medieval scholasticism. Though the latter certainly embraced divine omnipotence, this was usually seen as somehow limited by the perfect order of creation which reflected the perfect order of the divine mind. The divine will and the divine intellect are seen as integrated. The notion of a completely arbitrary and all-powerful divine will would be seen not as a true representation of God’s freedom but as a reflection of fallen, human freedom. Moreover, for realism the divine will is not entirely inscrutable, since it produces an order that can be understood by observing nature, an intelligible cosmos reflecting it.

As Gillespie recounts,
"The metaphysics of traditional scholasticism is ontologically realist in positing the extramental existence of universals such as species and genera as forms of divine reason known either by divine illumination...or through an investigation of nature, God’s rational creation. Within such an ontology, nature and logic reflect one another.... On this basis, it is possible to grasp the fundamental truth about human beings and their earthly duties and obligations (NBN 12)."

The “loose end” of this realism that the nominalists would exploit, however, is divine omnipotence. “While no one denied God’s potentia absoluta (absolute power),” Gillespie writes, “scholastics generally thought that he had bound himself to a potentia ordinate (ordered power) though his own decision. The possibility that God was not bound in this way but was perfectly free and omnipotent was a terrifying possibility that nearly all medieval thinkers were unwilling to accept” (NBN 14). It is the widespread acceptance of this possibility, Gillespie contends, that formed the foundations of modernity and spurred the rise of nihilism.

The compound influence of Ockham and others was to normalize what had been a minority view in the medieval period: negative theology, the general notion that the ontological difference between God and humans (and God and nature) is so great that we cannot achieve any positive or analogical knowledge of his nature. The decoupling of human reason and God and the prioritization of divine omnipotence laid the groundwork not only for a new theology focused on revelation and faith alone (instead of natural theology and the complementarity of faith and reason), but a new understanding of nature. As Gillespie notes, “The effect of the notion of divine omnipotence on cosmology was...revolutionary. With the rejection of realism and the assertion of radical individuality, beings could no longer be conceived as members of species of genera with a certain nature or potentiality.... The rejection of formal causes was also the rejection of final causes” (NBN 21).

Denied access to God, reason would now be focused squarely on knowing nature in a more precise, certain, and complete way, and in the process, as we saw Rosen describe above, reason itself would undergo a decisive change. Since reason can no longer discover teloi in nature—including the human telos—it loses its normative status, and its sole task is instrumental, and the ends to which it is put are prescribed not by reason itself, but by the will. Gillespie notes that this is the root of Descartes’ project of doubt: “The will as doubt seeks its own negation in science in order to reconstitute itself in a higher and more powerful form for the conquest of the world. Science and understanding in other words become mere tools of the will” (NBN 43). Doubt is undertaken as a security measure needed to protect against a dangerous and unpredictable nature created and unregulated by a capricious God. God and nature can no longer be looked to for practical guidance. Humanity must seek its proper ends within itself. But since its reason can no longer recognize itself as an instance of a natural kind that fits within an ordered cosmos (in the sense of both intelligible and purposive), its reason cannot do the job, and all that is left is the will. In Gillespie’s view, all of this signals a drastic shift from a model of God as “craftsman” to a vision of God as “artist”:

The nominalist emphasis upon divine omnipotence overturned [the] conception of natural causality and established divine will and efficient causality as preeminent. God was thus no longer seen as the craftsman who models the world on a rational plan, but as an omnipotent poet whose mystically creative freedom foams forth an endless variety of absolutely individual beings.... This ‘cosmos’ is devoid of form and purpose, and the material objects that seem to exist are in fact mere illusions (NBN 53).

Gillespie writes,
In [Fichte’s] interpretation of Kant...it became his goal to break the enslaving chains of the thing-in-itself and develop a system in which freedom was absolute.... Such a system in Fichte’s view could be established only by a metaphysical demonstration of the exclusive causality of freedom, and this in turn could be achieved only by a deduction of the world as a whole from freedom (NBN 76).

Freedom must be conceived not as a mere postulate that must be assumed because of a nature thoroughly determined by efficient causality (i.e., nature according to Kant via Newton), but as the principle of this nature in the first place. Fichte exacerbated the fault line between freedom and necessity broached by nominalism and wedged wider by Descartes: “Nihilism...grows out of the infinite will that Fichte discovers in the thought of Descartes and Kant. Fichte, however, radicalizes this notion of will...transforming the notion of the I into a world creating will” (NBN 66). This world-creating will is not, however, the will of the individual ego, but the source of all manifestation that alienates itself in nature: “Reality is merely a by-product of this creative will that seeks only itself.... The I of the I am is not a thing or a category but the primordial activity which brings forth all things and categories” (NBN 79). Nature is not an independent order: it is a spontaneous, free creation of the will, a negation of the absolute I. For Fichte, the moral struggle of humanity is the story of the I becoming reconciled to itself. Nature is nothing but the obstacle in the finite self’s path toward recollecting its original infinitude; or, put differently, nature is nothing other than an instrument for the perfection of humanity.

The sources are several: Greek metaphysics, Christian theology, late medieval nominalism, modern science, politics and culture, the advent of the philosophy of history, and German Idealism. The diagnoses are different: some see nihilism as a historically contingent phenomenon; some think it is rooted in human nature; and some think it issues from the nature of being itself. What they all have in common, though, is the notion that nihilism has something to do with a disruption in the relationship between humanity and nature, and many of them hold that overcoming or at least attenuating it involves developing a new conception of nature. There must be an alternative, in other words, to the positivism and scientific naturalism that rule the day because such a universe has no place for meaning and value; it offers no ground or justification for human values, and mocks human intuitions about the value of nature. Moreover, a common thread in the accounts is that nihilism involves the emergence of the view that the human will is the source of all meaning and value, and that the latter are in no way discovered but are purely created."

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PostSubject: Re: Active Nihilism Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:55 pm

To define things from a Nihilistic perspective, in the average,

Objectivity via rational cost/benefits ought to be the path for those too involved, too zoomed into life, they need to step back and draw well defined boundaries to get a clearer focus on the world.

Objectivity via subjective passion/daring ought to be the path for those too detached, too zoomed out of life, they need to become more "hued" and intimately engaged to gain focus.

But this is assuming one apriori has a picture of The reality to zoom in or out,, how does one know when it is right?

Daring and Knowing.

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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