Theories of Problems

Posted by Edward Willatt on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 Under: Public Philosophy

I have been ruminating on an issue I raised in a recent post that considered Badiou’s reading of Hegel.  This concerns a theory of problems that is positive and effective rather than problems being things that are always destined to be solved.  The other danger is that they become so established that they structure social space, as the Oedipus Complex does, and thus over-determines and stifles thought and practice.  Different theories of problems may make them insignificant or it may make them stifling and dogmatic, it may make them positive or negative, but a further danger is that it traces them from a common sense view of the world.  Thus when philosophy is commanded to respond to people’s problems in credible, realistic and relevant ways it is reduced to a form of self help.  Philosophy cannot question the problems with which it begins and so must work with assumptions that have been accumulated.  This is a strong response to those who challenge philosophy to be more ‘relevant’ but therefore less critical and productive.  It cannot refer to the unfamiliar to account for what is familiar because the unfamiliar is ‘irrelevant’ to people’s lives.  Philosophers are accused of having failed to engage with real people, often by newspapers columnists who raise the standard for a phantasmatic world of ‘real life’ and ‘real people'.  This can never be re-thought because to suggest such a thing would be to be elitist or arrogant, to seek to patronise people.  Yet if we can never seek to account for the situation we are in, something which arguably demands that we refer to the unfamiliar, we are left impotent.  If we are defined by the habits of thought that accumulate thanks to our ways of life then this seems very limiting for everyone.?

In : Public Philosophy 



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Theories of Problems

Posted by Edward Willatt on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 Under: Public Philosophy

I have been ruminating on an issue I raised in a recent post that considered Badiou’s reading of Hegel.  This concerns a theory of problems that is positive and effective rather than problems being things that are always destined to be solved.  The other danger is that they become so established that they structure social space, as the Oedipus Complex does, and thus over-determines and stifles thought and practice.  Different theories of problems may make them insignificant or it may make them stifling and dogmatic, it may make them positive or negative, but a further danger is that it traces them from a common sense view of the world.  Thus when philosophy is commanded to respond to people’s problems in credible, realistic and relevant ways it is reduced to a form of self help.  Philosophy cannot question the problems with which it begins and so must work with assumptions that have been accumulated.  This is a strong response to those who challenge philosophy to be more ‘relevant’ but therefore less critical and productive.  It cannot refer to the unfamiliar to account for what is familiar because the unfamiliar is ‘irrelevant’ to people’s lives.  Philosophers are accused of having failed to engage with real people, often by newspapers columnists who raise the standard for a phantasmatic world of ‘real life’ and ‘real people'.  This can never be re-thought because to suggest such a thing would be to be elitist or arrogant, to seek to patronise people.  Yet if we can never seek to account for the situation we are in, something which arguably demands that we refer to the unfamiliar, we are left impotent.  If we are defined by the habits of thought that accumulate thanks to our ways of life then this seems very limiting for everyone.?

In : Public Philosophy 



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