Practical Philosophy

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selfAdjoint
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Main Question or Discussion Point

In this interview, we hear about a practical philosopher who taught for many years at leading institutions and influenced many disciples, some of whom are now in positions of great power. John Rawls eat your heart out! ;=)

Interview
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
RageSk8
John Rawls owns Leo Strauss. If only Rawls was more influential in actualy politics... But on an academic comparison, Rawls really does blow Strauss out of the water (and his work could easily be applied in the real world). Habermas is better than Rawls though (IMHO).

But on the article, all too true, but indeed funny.
 
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What do you think about the current hoo-haw over Habermas giving aid and comfort to an apparent anti-semite? Also his essay (with approval by Derrida) on the spontaneous growth of Euro-consciousness? I prefer Zizek.
 
  • #4
RageSk8
What do you think about the current hoo-haw over Habermas giving aid and comfort to an apparent anti-semite? Also his essay (with approval by Derrida) on the spontaneous growth of Euro-consciousness? I prefer Zizek.
I am apparently as familar with social and political philosophy as you. Can you direct me to Habermas' essay on Euro-consciousness? Now that I am finally at a University, I have access to much more information.

Zizek, from the little I have read, is interesting. His essay on Ayn Rand was simply hilarious. I am not too big on Lacanian analysis, but then again I have read little of Lacan himself (only parts of his lectures) and far too much BS "culture studies" that utilize Lacan and come off as contrived. One thing I respect Zizek for is his avoidance of Rorty (my favorite living philosophy, though mostly for his work in the post-analytic tradition) bashing - in fact, in an interview, he praises Rorty for having "enough balls" to say that philosophy is of much less use for politics than many think (Rorty does stip down Rawls, which Habermas has criticized Rorty for doing, to circumscribe him under his own philosophy). Zizek seemed to say he feels there is some underlining urge political philosophy (though Rorty would not find this interesting, he likes pointing out that Habermas and Derrida, though very different philosophers, agree on almost everything politically - so, he says "why not just stick with the policies?"). Rorty also gives a very good philosophical critique of Habermas' conversational ethics.

My sister, whose area is theoretical political science, praises Hanna Ardent a lot. I don't know much about her, what do you think?
 
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Funny you should mention Hanna Arendt. I was just today saying I wanted to read one of her books. Can your sister recommend a good one. Please not "Eichmann in Jerusalem". She has alwways seemed to me, admittedly from secondary accounts, as a giant of moral understanding and authority. Unlike most philosophers, she went through the mill of European intellectual history in the time of Hitler with no defense of party and with her heart on her sleeve. She is a living illustration of Nietsche's saying, "What does not kill me strengthens me".

On Zizek and Lacan. Given their intertwining, can one be a fan of Zizek and not of Lacan? I think that is where I am. Zizek too is a moral philosopher, although his act makes it into a throwaway line. Read "Reviving Lenin" - read it all the way through.

The Habermas essay appeared a couple of months back. It was all over the net. I'll try to find a copy for you.
 
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Habermas-Derrida

Here is a link to the essay I mentioned. It's the first one I found on google; there are prettier ones I am sure.

http://listserv.cddc.vt.edu/pipermail/lnc/2003-June/001194.html [Broken]
 
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  • #7
RageSk8
Thanks. I will read the essay (as well as the Zizek essay, one of my friends actually mentioned that essay to me but I never took the time to read it) and get back to you with thoughts.
 
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Here is the Zizek essay on Lenin , it's called "Repeating Lenin" not reviving Lenin as I misremembered.
 
  • #9
RageSk8
The Habermas and Derrida essay was very interesting. I don't know if I agree with them on the need for a strong EU but, then again, I do not know enough about the political and social structure of Europe. I found this paragraph to be the most insightful in the piece:

Today we know that many political traditions that claim authority by virtue of being natural, in reality are “discovered.” In contrast to those, a European identity born in under public scrutiny would appear constructed from the very start. But only that which is constructed by arbitrary will [Willkuer] is flawed by virtue of being arbitrary [Beliebigkeit]. A political-ethical will that operates through the hermeneutics of the processes of self-understanding is not an arbitrary will. The difference between those inheritances that we accept and those we reject requires as much prudence [Umsicht, also circumspection] as the decision regarding the variations in how we take on our inheritance. Historical experiences require a conscious appropriation if they are to have identity-creating power.
To me this is absolutely correct. Current US foreign policy is overrun with ideologies barren of this historical insight. Bringing Iraq and Afghanistan into a new age of democracy will be much harder than our leaders recognize (especially in Afghanistan). The people of the Middle East do not need the US (or even the UN) to dictate and create Western democratic systems. They need to be able to relate democracy and universalistic concepts of civil rights to their own histories, their own culture.

Derrida and Habermas recognize that Europe will have to strive against becoming Eurocentric. When ever liberals in America speak out against American-centered views of the world they are labeled relativists and anti-American. Of course realizing that our society is based upon historical contingency and not rational, natural, or universal truths does not lead to relativism, but try telling that to a republican. Their goal of creating a European consciousness is a good goal to have; whether Europe can create one I have no idea.

I'll get back to you soon on the Zizek article.
 
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Certainly US policy in the last two years has been in the hands of people who regarded the other as, at best merely childish, and more often as a donkey to be subjected to the carrot and the stick. But this enterprise seems to be in the process of collapsing. Various political bloggers today all report that the hot talk in the corridors of power is about cutting and running from Iraq. Declare victory and go home.

The reason for this is political. Bush's handlers want Iraq to recede over the voters' horizon by next November, when the vote is. The attack on Iraq in the first place was in part political. US voters were seething with rage over the 9/11 atrocity, and wanted vengence on Arabs, almost any Arabs, as they didn't make any distinctions between them. The White House politicians, who are very good at what they do, picked up on this and supported the neocon's dream of empire. But once the attack is over, and Saddam is gone, there is no more political gain to be won, and a lot to be lost, in dealing with Iraq reality, as opposed to fantasy.
 

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