How Philosophers Learn to Walk

Posted by Edward Willatt on Monday, October 26, 2009 Under: Architectonics

I am currently working on a paper that begins with the notion that philosophers seek to ‘clear the ground’ – to avoid presupposing what they are seeking to account for – and then seek to walk upon the cleared ground.  They must feel that they ‘walk upon solid ground’ or are ‘in touch with reality’.  This might seem to be a statement of the obvious but if philosophy begins at all it must find the zero-point and then set forth while feeling confident that the system building or dialectics it engages is in touch with the real.  Thus Kant wants to relate the a priori and the synthetic in a system that accounts for experience.  As long as he is relating the two in his system-building he can feel that he is on solid ground.  Hegel pursues his dialectic through negative difference and Deleuze through positive difference.  Adorno is concerned with concrete, spatio-temporal particularities, with feeling the gravel beneath his feet.  To talk about the grounding of systems is to appear to endorse a metaphysics of presence, one that Heidegger rejected in his distinction between the present-at-hand and the ready-to-hand and his concern with the giving of experience which is no ground in the sense of a ‘floor’ or ‘base’ (he develops this in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics amongst other places).  Instead there is a ‘groundless ground’ that accounts for present or given things rather than presupposing them.  To be in touch with this ground is to be able to pursue a philosophical account, to build a system or pursue a dialectic that must ultimately account for reality as such.  The paper I am working on takes this starting point as a way into Badiou’s Being and Event.  His account of fidelity is based upon a subtractive ontology, one that reduces reality to a purely extensional and featureless landscape where nothing matters beyond the relation of belonging.  The notion of fidelity in Badiou is my primary concern but it seems necessary to explore the foundation of ‘truth procedures’ upon the void as ‘the nothing from everything proceeds’.  I have to fight my allegiance to forms of argument, means of expression and concepts that Badiou explicitly rejects.  His preference for Plato over Aristotle, for mathematics over poetry (although still making use of poetry that does not seek to usurp the role of mathematics but stages ‘event-dramas’) and for the void over fullness, are all challenging.  I have recently considered Deleuze’s philosophy of the concrete, his concern with becoming animal that leads to a ‘burrowing’ in the concrete rather than a subtractive ontology.  Badiou’s means of arguing, making rigorous use of set theory, is convincing in a wholly different way from the means I am used to.  I have to be sure I am not assessing his work in terms other than those he consistently uses throughout Being and Event.

In : Architectonics 



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How Philosophers Learn to Walk

Posted by Edward Willatt on Monday, October 26, 2009 Under: Architectonics

I am currently working on a paper that begins with the notion that philosophers seek to ‘clear the ground’ – to avoid presupposing what they are seeking to account for – and then seek to walk upon the cleared ground.  They must feel that they ‘walk upon solid ground’ or are ‘in touch with reality’.  This might seem to be a statement of the obvious but if philosophy begins at all it must find the zero-point and then set forth while feeling confident that the system building or dialectics it engages is in touch with the real.  Thus Kant wants to relate the a priori and the synthetic in a system that accounts for experience.  As long as he is relating the two in his system-building he can feel that he is on solid ground.  Hegel pursues his dialectic through negative difference and Deleuze through positive difference.  Adorno is concerned with concrete, spatio-temporal particularities, with feeling the gravel beneath his feet.  To talk about the grounding of systems is to appear to endorse a metaphysics of presence, one that Heidegger rejected in his distinction between the present-at-hand and the ready-to-hand and his concern with the giving of experience which is no ground in the sense of a ‘floor’ or ‘base’ (he develops this in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics amongst other places).  Instead there is a ‘groundless ground’ that accounts for present or given things rather than presupposing them.  To be in touch with this ground is to be able to pursue a philosophical account, to build a system or pursue a dialectic that must ultimately account for reality as such.  The paper I am working on takes this starting point as a way into Badiou’s Being and Event.  His account of fidelity is based upon a subtractive ontology, one that reduces reality to a purely extensional and featureless landscape where nothing matters beyond the relation of belonging.  The notion of fidelity in Badiou is my primary concern but it seems necessary to explore the foundation of ‘truth procedures’ upon the void as ‘the nothing from everything proceeds’.  I have to fight my allegiance to forms of argument, means of expression and concepts that Badiou explicitly rejects.  His preference for Plato over Aristotle, for mathematics over poetry (although still making use of poetry that does not seek to usurp the role of mathematics but stages ‘event-dramas’) and for the void over fullness, are all challenging.  I have recently considered Deleuze’s philosophy of the concrete, his concern with becoming animal that leads to a ‘burrowing’ in the concrete rather than a subtractive ontology.  Badiou’s means of arguing, making rigorous use of set theory, is convincing in a wholly different way from the means I am used to.  I have to be sure I am not assessing his work in terms other than those he consistently uses throughout Being and Event.

In : Architectonics 



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