No. But unfortunately Zizek is the only one who has made Lacan understandable and his project is to reduce Lacan to Hegel and at the same time reduce Hegel to Lacan. He is hoping that if this mutual reduction succeeds the real Zizek will shine through. This however is unlikely. A better way to look at Hegel is through the lens of Plotnitsk who wrote In the Shadow of Hegel which questions the systemically of Hegel’s philosophy. If we see the unconscious in society through the lens of Bataile’s Accursed Share and realize that it is a general economy rather than a restricted economy which Plotnitsky explains in his work Complentarity then we start to see the arena in which Zizek is playing. Lacan’s semiotic and structural unconscious is that playground. One of the first philosophers to start exploring in this direction was Baudrillard in his Towards a Critique of the Economy of the Sign in which Value and Sign are seen as being chiasmicly related due to the complementarities of the General Economy. Zizek has taken this argument to the limit and applied it to everything under the sun.
Archive for October, 2014
Zizek and Badioiu are a pair. Zizek used to defer to Badiou all the time now he is trying to define himself against Badiou. In my opinion Zizek is the deeper philosopher. But if you consider Zizek without Badiou in the background I don’t think it is possible to understand him. They are both Lacanian Analysts thus they are both grounding their philosophies in very different ways. Badiou is the philosopher of the Event of the Arising of the Ultra One out of the Multiple into the Set. For Badiou the Set is the basis for Ontology, and he prides himself on actually understanding Set Theory. Unfortunately his theory that Sets are the basis of Ontology is wrong because there are multiple possible foundations for Mathematics rather than just one. Ultra one i.e. the first particular to arise from the multiple that is one. The multiple is pure heterogeneity, pure difference, pure incommensurability. Sounds a bit like the Unconscious, No? Zizek takes a more direct route to the unconscious by interpreting Lacan via Hegel, and Hegel via Lacan. His insight is that Ideology works like the unconscious as it shapes our ideas and thoughts. Ideology is the social unconscious. And when we think we are living in a non-ideological age after the many wars over ideology in the last century, where capitalism seems to have won in the end, this is the most ideological time, not non-ideological. The reason to reduce Lacan to Hegel is that Hegel had the idea of the Social as Spirit and so in that context we can blow up the ideas of Lacan about the Structural and Semiotic unconscious to be a theory about society and its unconscious, its blindspots. For instance the idea that when we buy a cup of Coffee at Starbucks we are being sold an ecological story with it, and we buy that. In other words ecological sensitivity has become a way of selling commodities and we do not question that when we hear it from corporations. Zizek is good at turing all our ideas upside down and making their opposites make sense. This is a way of making us question our presuppositions which cannot be all bad.
Quora Answer: Is anyone sketching a philosophical bridge between Foucault and Nondualism, Buddhist, Taoist or other “eastern” philosophies?
I am writing a paper on Zizek and Dogen which is a defense of Buddhism and other nondual ways like Islamic Sufism. Foucault and other Continental Philosophers figure into that defense in as much as you have to understand the relation of these various continental philosophers to each other. Basically the question should be What is the relation between non-dual philosophy to the Western worldview overall, and then within that context we can see various levels of attempts to solve problems created by dualism established by Aristotle in his Metaphysics. But in fact none of these western philosophers come close to articulating a real nondual position like that of Dogen, for instance. You really have to compare a concrete instance of nondual thought within that tradition of Taoism, Buddhism, DzogChen, etc and show its relation to the dualist Western worldview as a whole, and then work your way down to individual philosophers and how they have tried to solve problems caused by duality within the western worldview. Otherwise it is easy to fall into Orientalism as so many do.
It is not mathematics in general that is the Synthetic a priori as far as I know but Geometry which synthesizes space. Time is an Analytical a priori and related to Arithmetic for Kant. The the categories which are also synthetic a priori are schematized and thus connected to the series in time. The series in time is discontinuous so that the connection via the schematization and the categories gives a connection between the continuous and the discontinuous. The status of time is up in the air in Kant as we can see by Heidegger’s interoperation of Kant. Mathematical Categories like groups, rings, topologies are obviously synthetic, but it is unclear if they are a priori or a posteriori, i.e. platonic source forms or something we construct after the fact. What seems to like time and number is the series. But moments of time are not continuous in the same sense that geometrical objects in space are continuous. There is one school of thought on time that only the Now moment actually has Being which we ascribe to Zeno and Parmenides. There is another school of thought that time is continuous in its flowing like a river which is attributed to Heraclitus. But unlike the continuity of time we do not have access to the prior moment once it is gone in time the same way we have access to a point on a surface that we have moved away from and then can move back to. Some therefore say that each moment of time is itself discontinuous from the other moments of time like Heidegger which attributes different existentials to the different temporal ecstasies. When we consider a group as a table then it appears Parmenidian. But if we consider it as rotations that take the same thing back to the same position again at the end of each group operation then it appears discontinuous oscillating between the sameness of the outcome and the operations that give the group structure. But which group operation we execute seems arbitrary even though the group itself is well-ordered, so that makes it appear as if the group operations are discontinuous with each other. So the question of time in mathematics is problematic and up in the air and it is unclear whether time is a synthetic a priori or analytic a priori or synthetic a posteriori. When given a mathematical structure we analyze it then that is analytic a posteriori. But the givenness of math categories themselves is where the problem arises and there are different philosophical positions on that which it is difficult to decide between.
Buddhism is a heresy of the Indo-European worldview as expressed in Hinduism in India. In India Indo-European invaders ran into non-indo-european natives in an interesting clash of cultures which is ultimately summarized by the three gods Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahman summarized the ideas of God of the invaders, and Shiva summarized the idea of God of the indigenous Indians especially the Tamil’s. Vishnu was an attempt to work out a nondual compromise between the two extremely different worldviews.
Only Indo-european languages have Being (Sat). The buddhist revolt was to deny being to the Self (anatman). Interestingly it flourished at the same time as another similar heresy called Jainism. I have a theory that Mahayana Buddhism is basically a combination of Buddhism and Jainism. But this is not established. Anyway it shows that there was a time when Hinduism went through a crisis in which there were many breakaway religions that formed in response to Hinduism that was founded on the idea of Being (Sat Citta Ananda) and Buddhism was the most radical of these.
Interestingly Buddhism takes many themes and motifs from the Indo-european sources of Hinduism and transforms them giving them a new life within the buddhist worldview which is a worldview without Being. Since, buddhism had the sophistication of Hinduism but without its metaphysical baggage it was accepted in many non-indoeuropean cultures where it survived while in India it was reabsorbed into Hinduism based on the work of Nagarjuna who showed that Emptiness was at the heart of Logic. This gave rise to a transformation in Hinduism itself which was inaugurated by Shankara who basically interpreted Being as emptiness and was thereby able to create a unification of the various doctrines in the Upanishads by going up a meta-level. The concept of Nirguna Brahman was ultimately a concept of an empty Godhead. Similar to the ideas of Meister Eckhart in Europe.
Buddhism for all its sophistication was eventually found to be dualistic itself because of its idea of the dichotomy between the two truths and Dzogchen attempted to rectify that and further developed the already sophisticated theory of Emptiness. In china also there were attempts to come up with a synthesis between Taoism and Buddhism which is seen in Hau Yen Buddhism and also in Tien Tai Buddhism and the southern school of Zen.
Buddhism is very deep from a philosophical point of view, especially with respect to the critique of the concept of Being which is rampant in the Indo-european worldview, It is still relevant for us today as a critique of our concept of Being. And because it leads to nondual ways of looking at things which is foreign to our overly dualistic worldview. Also Buddhism is based on meditation and thus has an experiential content which makes it an extremely powerful antidote to the production of illusion rampant in the Western Worldview.
Another nondual heresy specially of the European Western worldview is Islam and within it Sufism. It is extremely interesting to compare the heresy of Hinduism, i.e. Buddhism, to Islam as the heresy of European Dualism. By comparing Taosim, the nondual heresy of Confucianism, and Buddhism, the nondual heresy of Hinduism, and Islam, the nondual heresy of European Western dualism to each other we get a synoptic overview of nonduality. Basically what we see in that comparison is that all worldviews start off with a series of dichotomies which they explore the permutations of working out the structural possibilities in those founding dichotomies. But at some point the occurs to someone the idea that there is a nondual alternative to all the other alternatives that is outside the permutational set, and this fundamentally transforms the dialogue between the different positions that are possible within the worldview. Taoism did that for China, Buddhism did that for Hinduism, and Islamic Sufism does that for the dominant European Western worldview. But what is most interesting is where these different nondual approaches have interacted and influenced each other. An example of that is DzogChen which attempted a critique of Emptiness in terms of the idea of Void from Taoism and Bon. Ultimately the idea of Emptiness is itself Empty and thus it turns back into the Void. Islam and Sufism on the other hand start from a completely different source to provide a deeper view of nonduality. But one cannot really understand Sufism without some prior understanding of other nondual ways.
The Buddhist Heresy basically says that Being does not exist, is an illusion, and what does exist is emptiness which is a nondual non-concept non-experience which is the background on which we see everything that does exist. Buddhism proves its case via meditational techniques which take one into alternate states of consciousness in which Being vanishes and other ways of looking at things that are nondual are seen to be a more basic way of looking at the things of this world and our place in it. The heresy of Buddhism is DzogChen which negates the difference between the two truths as a kind of meta-dualism returning emptiness to the void of Taoism and Bon.
There are some basic things we need to know about existentialism.
First of all we need to make sure we do not confuse Existentialism with Existence in the sense that I use the term which is as what is not Being. In other words there is a school of Existentialism but it is an argument between philosophers within Being, and then there is Existence which is what is beyond Being, i.e. what merely exists, and the Existentialists do not even try to go there.
I know this is very confusing. But it is signified by the fact you have asked what IS Existentialism, in other words we have not escaped from Being with your question and it is a specific school which uses the fact we have the word existence in our language. The reason we have it in our language is that it comes from the Arabs, who when they read Aristotle saw that he meant more than existence (Wajud) when he talked about Being, so they named that excess Kun (making) and when that was translated into Latin it became Existence, meaning what stands beyond Being. Only Indo-Europeans have Being in their languages so it is really only relevant to the Western tradition, but because we took over everything through colonialization it became relevant to others who speak languages without Being in them, thus truly existential languages.
Now this word existence lay dominant in our philosophical vocabulary until Kierkegaard and then Nietzsche, and then Heidegger and Sartre started taking a position which placed existence prior to essence, meaning the core of Being that just means that something is there. The way I like to talk about it is that Existence is neither aspect nor anti-aspect, where aspects are Truth, Reality, Presence and Identity. It turns out that when you go up the meta-levels of Being that at the fifth meta-level you hit a phase transition from Being to Existence. It can appear as Ultra Being, Emptiness or Void. If we think about Existence as either Emptiness or Void it is nondual, but if we think about it as Ultra Being then it is a singularity of absurdity or impossibility which just exists but we are seeing it from the outside rather than being encompassed by it.
It is really Jaspers that starts using the terminology of Existence and Heidegger adopts it, then we start seeing that this was the point of view of Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky previously. Heidegger was taken up by the French and a good book to read about that is Generation Existential by Ethan Kleinberg. After the French found out that Heidegger was associated with the Nazis they began to backpedal from this whole hearted adoption after the war. Except for Gadamer and perhaps Merleau-Ponty most of the French only had a limited Idea about what Heidegger was talking about. Existentialism was championed by Sartre and Camus who fell out with each other. And now it is seen as passé. This is mainly because Sartre it was decided did not understand Heidegger and of course Heidegger wrote a Letter on Humanism to disown Sartre’s interpretation. Since Heidegger is a more profound philosopher than Sartre or Camus everyone went back to the drawing board to try to understand Heidegger. Contemporary Philosophy starts with Heidegger. Nazi or not we cannot ignore him. Everything after Heidegger has to be influenced by him even Analytical Philosophy stands against Heidegger from the beginning with Carnaps rejection of his metaphysical nonsense. Even it it is seen as nonsense there has to be a position in relation to Heidegger. I am reading Cassirer Third Volume of Symbolic Forms and he references Heidegger.
So if one is going to understand what Existentialism means we need to start with Heidegger. Heidegger makes a very simple argument for using the Existential terminology of Jaspers. That is if we are going to get to a place prior to the arising of the subject/object dichotomy, i.e. to get to Dasein, and Dasein is the projection mechanism by which we project the world and then find ourselves in it, then we have to distinguish dasein and its categories from the categories of the objects within the world, and so we will call the categories of Dasein existentials. Heidegger was very reluctant to adopt the terminology of Existentialism from Jaspers but in the final draft of Being and Time he made that change suddenly. And when we get to the heart of Dasein where the Existentials overlap called Care, or Sorge, then there Heidegger imports everything from Kierkegaard’s idea of absurdist subjectivity. So Heidegger adopts Jaspers terminology and then he adopts Kierkegaard’s authentic subject as the core of Dasein. The term Care he gets from Augustine.
So what are these Existentials:
- Befindlichkeit (foundness)
- Rede (talk, discourse)
- Verstehen (Understanding)
The opposites of all these are Fallenness which combines curiosity, ambiguity, idle-talk.
Turns out that Foundness is related to Thrownness which is related to the Past;
Understanding is related to Projection which is related to the Future, and seemingly incomprehensibly Fallingness is related to the Present. Discourse is not related to any moment of time which is unexpected. There are other Existentials like the They.
There is also the distinction of Ontological Difference between Being and beings, and the corresponding difference with respect to Dasein is Existence and Existentiells. The only Existentiell that Heidegger really talks about is Death which is the avenue to authenticity.
So from this perspective Existentialism is a way to understand human existence as a human situation in which we are interested specifically in the facticity of life beyond essences (ready-to-hand) and abstractions (present-at-hand) which are two modalities of being-along-side things in the world. When we are with others or alone with ourselves we are relating only to dasein at that is an existential relation rather than an ontological relation. Thus Being looks different from the human perspective of the one projecting the transcendences and who is encompassed by them. But this is an attempt to distance oneself from essentialist ways of looking at things, which is based as Heidegger says on Metaphysics as is ‘humanism’ as a historical approach that centers on Man rather than Being, Being is forgotten and instead we find ourselves lost among beings some of which we treat as objects even though they are other human beings.
Existentialism turned out to be somewhat of a dead-end as a Western philosophical movement. It did not escape from metaphysics and Heidegger abandoned it eventually for something he felt was deeper, i.e. Beying rather than Being in Contributions. Sartre moved on to other issues in his Critique of Dialectical reason which is his really great book no one reads. It is about how to treat the dialectic dialectically and to found it on fundamental revolutionary human relationships. Camus died in a car accident as did Merleau-Ponty. Probably the most genuine member of the Existentialist movement was Kierkegaard who embraced absurdity and paradox as the fundamental basis of subjectivity. The basic argument is that if you get rid of essence then you have gotten rid of the basis of meaning so existence is absurd or as Sartre would say that means you have to produce your own meaning in life. But all the thinkers that are lumped together under the rubric of Existentialism had very different philosophies. We should probably recognize Jaspers as the core thinker who brought the term to prominence. Heidegger found it convenient to appropriate this terminology and the work of Kierkegaard within Being and Time but then abandoned that tack. Sartre, Camus and others in France that thought of themselves as Existentialists were looking for something different from Bergson or French NeoKantianism and thus felt they found something interesting in Husserl and Heidegger’s work. They saw Heidegger’s work as compatible with their Marxist interpretations of Hegel. But later Heidegger repudiated them and they repudiated him due to his Nazism. So Existentialism of the interwar period and immediately after the WWII quickly fell apart as other Continental philosophers moved on to try to work out what Heidegger really meant. But because Heidegger did not publish Contributions that was impossible because he merely hinted at his real position which was as he thought the one to actually bring metaphysics to an end after Nietzsche the last metaphysician. But we have noticed that whoever says they have brought Metaphysics (essence and abstraction thinking) to an end actually ends up merely repeating the sins of metaphysics. Thus we get Postmodernism that lingers on.
But the actually most interesting thing about Continental Philosophy is that Merleau-Ponty goes on to discover along with Heidegger and Derrida Hyper Being, and then on his own Wild Being. Derrida explores Hyper Being as Difference (differing and deferring) and Deleuze goes on after that to explore Wild Being. These other modalities of being-in-the-world, ways of relating to non-dasein objects in the world are extremely interesting and turn out to give us the series of meta-levels of Being which we are still trying to come to terms with. Basically we are stuck trying to come to terms with Being and Time just like the French did in various waves before and after the Second World War. What Heidegger did was come up with an extremely subtle solutions to the problems of neo-Kantianism which was the pre-war status quo and this is seen in his courses leading up to Being and Time. The reason that Being and Time made such an impact was that Heidegger hand not published anything before that and only gave courses during which he tried to solve the problems of Husserl’s phenomenology and its relation to neo-Kantianism. Heidegger solved these problems in such a clever and subtle way that he unmasked a history of metaphysics that no one suspected existed prior to him that started with Aristotle. Heidegger as medievalist is going back to Aristotle and discovering that he is a phenomenologist par excellence. And so Being and Time attempts to take us back to the kinds of Knowledge that Aristotle pointed out to us which we had lost track of in our history. It turns out that these kinds of knowledge that Aristotle points out in his Ethics are isomorphic to the Divided Line of Plato. And so Heidegger is taking us back into the Core of the Western worldview and reminding us of what is there. Basically the modes of Being of Dasein relate to kinds of knowledge in Aristotle. Present-at-Hand (extant) is Episteme of Science, this is basically the Algebraic-geometrical reduction of the world discovered by Descartes but in the time of Aristotle and Plato was based on Geometry eventually written down by Euclid and which became the basis of reason within our tradition. Ready-to-hand is the Techne of Poesis which we have seem to have lost but that is found in our immersion in the technological infrastructure of the world. Finally below that is Phronesis (judgment) of praxis (action) which is a pragmatism taken from Emil Last who got it from C.S. Peirce. Heidegger tried to use Last’s NeoKantianism influenced by Husserl and Peirce to attempt to disclose the facticity of life below the level of essence, i.e. the ready-to-hand. Husserl’s big discovery was that essence perception was different from abstraction, and that is the basis for the difference between the modes of Being in Heidegger which are called by me Pure Being (Parmenides) and Process Being (Heraclitus). Heidegger is following Nietzsche and Hegel in attempting to emphasize Process Being over Pure Being. Hegel thinks that ultimately they are the same. Nietzsche says that Pure Being is an illusion and there is only Heracltian Flux which he sees as Will to Power. Heidegger however wanted to go beyond this perspective and attempt to make a formal indication of the facticity of life following in the footsteps of Dilthey and others that proposed philosophies of Life. Husserl does the same thing in Krisis which talks about the Lifeworld and its estrangement from Science. Dasein was Heidegger’s final formulation of the formal indication of life which did not disturb it but disclosed it. When Heidegger found this strand of thought in Aristotle as well, i.e. the emphasis on disclosure then he knew he could completely overturn (deconstruct) modern philosophy which had forgotten its roots in disclosure. Existentialist terminology was a way to make clear the difference between this disclosure in the human situation from everything else we layer on top of that like essences and abstractions. When Sartre and Camus latched on to the idea that Existence came before Essence they missed that essential point and were caught up with the terminology of Nothing being Nihiliated or Nullity Nullified, and so Sartre took off with that idea and actually made something very interesting of it, but that is just a small part of Heidegger’s attempt to explain the nature of Dasein and how to project Being it must go beyond Being as a whole into the Nothing and Nihilate it in order to project it as something that encompasses Dasein. This is the basic paradox of the Trinity where the Father creates the world in which the Son is ensconced as an incarnation which Kierkegaard labels an absurdity, but takes it up and makes it the core of his belief. Since Being itself is a contradiction, or even a paradox, or even an absurdity, if not an impossibility it is hard for Dasein not to embody this paradox and absurdity within itself. But actual existence not as Ultra Being but as Empty or Void is not absurd or paradoxical but is instead Supra-rational and that is why the existentialists never got beyond Being because if they had they would have recognized its non-duality. Heidegger was not interested in Sophia of Virtue or the Nous of the Numinous that Aristotle also talked about as kinds of knowledge because Heidegger saw them as a prioris and thus dead, not living and so he was not interested in them in the least and left them out of his return to Aristotle.
For Heidegger in Being and Time there are two modes of being-in-the-world: present-at-hand (extant) and ready-to-hand (handy) . Present-at-hand is the normal objective world of science. Ready-to-hand is another completely different mode of relating to beings in the world that is not objective, but rather based on use. This approach is called by Heidegger circumspective concern with a view to taking in the totality of the technological infrastructure. One difference between these two modes is the set-like approach verses a mass-like approach. Heidegger says twice that you cannot have a equipment, Equipment is a mass (non-count) term. Heidegger is saying that when we are concerned with use of the technological infrastructure then there is a different modality for relating to things than is the normal objective way of relating to things in Science. The difference is between two kinds of knowledge identified by Aristotle which were Episteme of Science verses Techne of Poiesis. Another mode that Aristotle identifies is Phronesis of Praxis which is identified at the nature of Dasein itself which is different from either the Pure Being of Objectivity of Science (Parmenides) and the Process Being of use of the technological infrastructure which is dynamic (Heraclitus) and practical with regard to building, making, and producing associated with the Readiness-to-hand of equipment.
Zen is not anti-rational. It is supra-rational which is very different. But the West being intrinsically dualistic and fascinated by Paradox and Absurdity is blind to non-duality. Supra-rational is synonymous with the nondual (meaning actually non-cardinal, i.e. Not One! Not Two! Not Many!, which is the same as the meaning of Emptiness based on the Tetralemma (A, Not A, Both or Neither). See Loy’s Book Nonduality, except he accepts Monism as Nondual which is a problem with his presentation. As I have explained in my other answers viz Buddhism, DzogChen, Taoism etc. Zen is fundamentally misunderstood in the West as being Paradoxical. Nothing could be further from the truth and in fact exactly the opposite is true. If we look at Plato’s Divided Line we see it has two limits Contradiction, Paradox, Absurdity on the one hand and Supra-rationality on the other. This is like the difference in Quantum Mechanics between Entanglement and Superposition. Supra-Rational is like Superposition. It means that two things are simultaneously true without interfering or mixing. In Contradiction, Paradox and Absurdity there is mixture. Very few Zen Koans are about Mixture. Many are about the Pure States of SupraRationality in which opposites are true simultaneously without reference to each other or mixture because there is a barrier between the two states that prevent mixture. If you can see that state of simultaneous truth, or falsehood then that is an indicator of the nondual state of emptiness or in Taoism Void. The association of Zen with anti-rationalism is a form of Orientalism in which the West sees everything foreign in its own image. It takes a lot of time and energy to get past this misconception. That is because there are very few examples of supra-rationality in our culture, and it truly is culture shock to realize that there are states for which there are few precedents in our culture to be able to relate to them, however if we go back to the core of the Western worldview which is the Divided Line of Plato we see that the other limit of that line associated with Nous of the Numinous is the Greek expression of the supra-rational. Thus the precedents are there but they are well hidden.
Quora Answer: Alchemy: The first alchemist Bolos the Democritean of Mendes made three statements about nature in relation to itself, what do they mean?
I found “Nature overcomes Nature, Nature rejoices in Nature, Nature contains Nature.” The Turba Philosophorum Fourty-Fifth Dictum
The key point is that the gods of Egypt are called NTR. Thus our nature is the basic unfolding of what the Egyptians took to be their gods though the eyes of the Greeks that turned from the Mythos based on Sumerian like Gods to the Kosmos in the Metaphysical Era that explored the poeiss of the phusis of NaTuRe.
These three statements are homeomorphic with Special Systems Theory. See
In graduate school I attended school in England and Australia where there are no classes. You just write your dissertation and everything rests on that passing or failing by external readers. In both cases my study strategy was to learn everything I could and master the subject in order to write my dissertation. In both cases it too quite a few years to do that more the first time than the second. In my opinion mastery is the only way to go. If you are not prepared to do that why bother? But then different people’s definition of mastery are very different from each other. Mine is to go way overboard. But when questions roamed all over the place in my first orals I was glad I did go way beyond what was required because suddenly a deeper level of competence was required than expected. I recommend the English system of education also followed in Australia. To my mind it is a higher standard than for graduate school in the USA. But I guess I am prejudiced because that is the system I am used to from my graduate school days.
See second Ph.D. in Systems Engineering at