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Critical Philosophy


In this final semester of my final year, the philosophy and politics courses are weighted toward the recent developments in philosophy etc. Which translates into lots of Derrida, Foucault, Ricouer and "radical" philosophy generally.

I have only been reading it for a week and I wonder (not originally I'm sure) why, for a philosophy of mass emancipation from power and life as a subject, it is so bloody impenetrable to the folk supposed to benefit from its very existence.

I realise that the ideas themselves are never easy as such and their power is in their popularisation by others. I am quite interested in some of these ideas and up for the read, but as a recent review of the Verso series of "Radical Philosophy" suggested, between Jargon and possible western-centric outlook it borders on inaccessible and irrelevant.

Which is a pity.


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  1. Anonymous WorldbyStorm | 10:21 p.m. |  

    I think Derrida and Foucault are interesting in so far as they expand on certain concepts of 'discourse', but yes, it is jargon heavy, close to solipsistic and in many respects there is more than a hint of elitism about their positioning of themselves as interpreters of meaning...

    ...on the other hand it's crucial to engage with it, even if one disagrees with the ideas behind it if only to understand a part of the trajectory of our culture over the past two or three decades.

  2. Blogger Cian | 11:00 p.m. |  

    I absolutely agree, the recent past is indelibly marked by their work. Your point about meaning is perhaps a better way of my own regarding the seeming tension between radical interpretations and perspectives and their failure to radicalise those who require emancipation.

    All of the above have undoubted moments of brilliance, yet they couch it within a great deal of jargon laden philosophy.

    I struggle to see how postmodernism gets such credit for the fall of entire cultures (or other awful claims it gets). It is at heart (to my mind at least) that most modern of elements-the anti-thesis.

    perhaps I am wrong.

    I realise it is simplistic but it is not a system of beliefs (anathema to the idea in fact) rather a system of critical reflection and interpretation of what it is that has taken place. It doesnt disclose through its presence a great deal, it simply acts to subvert, critique and perfect what precedes and co exists with it as well as exploring new ways to generate ideas.

  3. Blogger WorldbyStorm | 11:06 p.m. |  

    Did you ever read the Alan Sokal book, Intellectual Impostures? It's a bit harsh on much post-modernism, but there's a grain of truth in there.

  4. Anonymous zinnia | 3:29 p.m. |  

    you sound like a man in the know. where can I find english translations of Jules Lequier, Georges Palante or/and Louis Guilloux (black blood). My french is not so passable!
    thank you (especially if you can help!

  5. Blogger Chris Bond | 11:33 p.m. |  

    Hi cian, thats a good blog you have going, i recently set up my own.

  6. Blogger V | 8:32 a.m. |  

    I have started to think that Foucoult is useless for argumentation, the tedious Constructivists that hang around everywhere, it seems like there is always one hanging around every conversation. All he ever wanted was to be a goldfish. spoofer.

  7. Blogger Shtanto | 11:46 p.m. |  

    Hi Cian,

    I'd have to form an opinion first. No sense pretending :)

    I agree with what you say. As a man of the IT world, I have a trade steeped to the eyebrows in jargon. It's pretty damn lonely.

    Philosophy would do well to be a bit more user-friendly!

  8. Blogger RonanOD | 3:49 a.m. |  

    Its nearly 20 years since I did Philosophy and English in UCD. Don't tell me they are still peddling the same rubbish. I despair for you. I struggled through it as well: Foucault, Ricouer, Derrida, et al. Got excited about it for a little while. Then I got on with my life. I recently met some tosser who told me he was a "post-christian" and thought Derrida was the best argument to be born again. Yes, he was American. Personally, I think the whole Post-modern shlock is just jargon ridden Nostradamus. People will be getting worked up over that sophistry for years. I did like the Anglo-American stuff: especially Wittgenstein. Much more rigorous. If I were young and back again I would go and learn something real: like welding or carpentry. I would probably be wealthier now if I had.

  9. Blogger Unkie Dave | 1:44 p.m. |  

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Blogger Unkie Dave | 1:48 p.m. |  


    Foucalt and Derrida are worth slogging your way through, if only to move on to Baudrillard, Guattari, Debord and especially Andre Gorz.

    French contemporary philosophers seem to rejoice in impenetrable language, they take a simple enough concept and wrap it up in shiny Christmas paper to show how clever they are, but if you can tear through that wrapping it really can be worth it. Chomsky has a great "pot calling the kettle black" quote on French philosophers using big words unnecessarily:

    "Quite regularly, "my eyes glaze over" when I read polysyllabic discourse on the themes of poststructuralism and postmodernism; what I understand is largely truism or error, but that is only a fraction of the total word count. True, there are lots of other things I don't understand: the articles in the current issues of math and physics journals, for example. But there is a difference. In the latter case, I know how to get to understand them, and have done so, in cases of particular interest to me; and I also know that people in these fields can explain the contents to me at my level, so that I can gain what (partial) understanding I may want. In contrast, no one seems to be able to explain to me why the latest post-this-and-that is (for the most part) other than truism, error, or gibberish, and I do not know how to proceed. Perhaps the explanation lies in some personal inadequacy, like tone-deafness. Or there may be other reasons."

  11. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:22 a.m. |  

    So let me get this straight:::Terrorizing me telepathically with your tool doesn't count and I just have to passively "take it"?

    Want to know why Caliqula's reign as Roman Emporer was so short? For the same reason the Jews didn't remain in Egypt as slaves:::::It effectively motivated them to fix their problems and ascend.

    Obedience is not the answer. This is the brain-less response and the easy way out.
    You've done everything you have been told for years and it never bought you ANYTHING. Your parents did what they were told and it didn't buy them anything. Your grandparents did everything they were told and now they're dead, reincarnated as lesser life forms, perhaps even into America's deranged, violent ghettos.
    People think they are not responsible when Artificial Intelligence tells them to do something. They offeed a clue with the Holocaust AND with Watergate:::Defy authority and do the right thing.
    In earlier decades this obedience may have been out of fear, as so often in Germany, but that era is long over. To maximize damamge the Gods today sell them on "earning" and these people think they will profiteer from their evil.
    They offer a clue on the Simpsons with Flanders and Skinner. So many ridicule both figures, a testiment to the state of our society.

    Hatiian earthquake.
    Jews never saw as much sucess ascending than during bondage. Of course, this is "God's chosen people".
    Sexual purity and innocence is everything, but sexual decency may suffice among the favored. An example I like to use is masterbation:::Although the number of exceptions is growing, men are punished for this behavior while far fewer women are.
    Didn't the Nazis prohibit sexual relations/reproduction? The Jews who fought this were the disfavored, just as the East Germans who tried to cross the Berlin Wall.
    The Holocaust may have been an attempt to get as many of these favored people out before they were introduced to the "valley of steel".
    Perhaps it is a benefit for Jewish sexual decency. Maybe because they treat their women well.
    So many positives in their "equation of disfavor" combined with the state of mind resulting from their long history of suffering may have resulted in this mass exodus known as World War II's Holocaust.
    And, like the Richard Nixon example, it offered a clue to the disfavored souls left behind.
    And the Gods made middle-America anti-Semitic to not only send a clue about Christianity to the wise but to dump The Damned into this WorldWarII positioning.

    I have been using Haiti as an example for years. I recall bringing Haiti up in regards to mom, for the running joke was that they will reincarnate her as a Haitian slave, slavery still being a problem in this Carribean country.
    With her as the leader of the resistance, of course.
    A couple of days before the earthquake we were talking about the possible reincarnation destinations for her.
    This clue is a big one because this one is on the order of Iraq and ending the benefit wrought by Saddam Hussein.
    People still don't understand or believe the reverse positioning dynamic at work here because it contradicts their long-held values, but the wretched conditions of Haiti was a benefit for those people. Just as we saw millions of European Jews pray en masse so should Haitian conditions motivate this country. Unfortuantaly, due to their increased disfavor the Gods have reserved priveledge, and just like "resistance" among mainstream blacks so are there tactics in Haiti which limits the effectiveness of this "back-handed" favor.
    The earthquake represents the end. It's all "downhill" from here.
    This is Obama's Iraq. Haiti will never be the same nor experience the same incentives to turn to the Gods.
    And more of the people's "favor" slips away.

  12. Blogger ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ | 10:42 p.m. |  

    Global Debt Crisis

    The greatest private fraud of human history.

    Who are the great fraudsters who are becoming the murderers of the human kind? How does the economy "illness" threaten Democracy and the freedom of people?



    We started our analysis from Greece over a global matter, in order to help you understand totally what is going on ...understand how loansharking can invade the everyday operation of a society and threaten the society itself with death. By knowing what happened in indebted Greece, where loan sharks created “bubbles” and the current inhuman debt, one can understand the inhuman plan in total ...understand where this plan started just to bring all states at the same end ...understand how this type of plans are established...


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