Archive for April, 2013

Quora answer: On technical questions, is Quora or Stack Overflow more useful?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

If you have real questions and you want real answers go to Stackoverflow. If you want softboiled opinions from people who really only have opinions and do not need learn much knowledge to get by then stay here.

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Quora answer: Is Quora in trouble? If so, how should they respond?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

I believe that Quora is in trouble, but not because of any external competitor, but because they basically do not know what they are doing. Quora picked up the idea of Q&A from Stackexchange, which does questions and answers right, but they wanted to make a Q&A site for the “masses”. And this was a good idea. And the design at first was stunning compared to Stackexchange. And the founders were insiders to they attracted the attention of other Web 2.0 insiders. But none of this helped them think any more deeply about Q&A. So now we see them randomly making changes to the platform without really understanding the nature of Q&A and so all these random changes don’t help. Basically I see Quora designers as lost, continually tweaking things in random ways hoping something will help the situation, but now finding anything that really helps.

When people go to Stackexchange they have real questions. They are searching for real answers. And thus the quality of Stackexchange questions and answers is very high. On Quora by comparison we have a lot of fake or un-interesting questions. This is because people here on Quora are not for the most part seeking knowledge.  And because of that no matter how good the answers are there is a limit to what can be done in terms of giving substantive answers. If you give substantive answers then these are more likely to be collapsed because people don’t really want answers that are substantive. What is desired is pabulum.

Now if Quora does not solve this problem, i.e. the problem that much of what is here on Quora is mere opinion and that it is popular opinion that rules instead of knowledge. For instance, we have admins that really do not know about the subjects that they oversee making decisions out of ignorance all the time. In Science there is peer review. In other words people who know as much as the author about a subject, or more, and the judges of what is worth publishing. Having volunteers who do not have knowledge making decisions in matters of knowledge just will not work ultimately.

So what is the real problem? The real problem is that Questions float free. The context of the questions is missing. That context is called the problematic. Questions without context have difficulty having significant meaning ultimately. Thus instead of topics structuring the relation between questions this should be done by problematics.

For instance, my problematic our of which all my thought and exploration unfold is the question of the relation of the Western worldview to other worldviews especially those which have a nondual basis rather than a dualistic basis as exists in the Western worldview. This gets narrowed to the question of the relation of Western Science to traditional sciences, which allow us to understand some of the underlying presumptions of the western science that we might be blind to and which may be distorting our views of the world. Each person who is on an intellectual quest should be able  to articulate their problematic. And if you know the problematic of a person then you can understand what motivates them to ask the questions that they are asking. Problematics are not specific to individuals and can be shared. So just as questions can be shared so can problematics. So there should be some way to share and refine problematics, and questions that grow out of problematics should be given higher value than free-floating questions that are groundless. Many questions can grow out of problematics including those that question the presumptions of the problematic itself.

Now once we had grounded questions, even if the ground itself groundless, then what is necessary is to have chains of questions that form a dialectic. Knowledge is produced out of the dialectic. Without the dialectic you cannot get to knowledge. Thus there will never be any thing other than baseless opinion on Quora until somehow problematics an dialectics are facilitated.

Opinion is fine, but without a ground it is baseless. If we provide the ground, the problematic, perhaps some evidence too, then all we are going to do is keep going around in circles. But the only way to break through into knowledge is through participating in a dialectic. And this is what the structure of Quora prevents. We could all put our problematics in our profiles, but the current design does not make it easy to generate a series of questions and answers that refine representable intelligibles and aim at non-representable intelligibles (like the Good, Right, and any higher concepts).

So if I were to redesign Quora I would add Problematics and Approaches that are responses to problematics and the ability to link Questions to Approaches. People can then argue over problematics and the approaches to problematics and that will allow the questions generated to have a ground.

Next, I would change the relation of Questions to Answers and the relation of comments to both. Specifically, I would increase the number of answers that a person can give to a question to two or three so that one can respond to the developments in the relation between answers as they accumulate.  I now put these in the additional answers in the single answer space, but this is confusing. The convention should be that one only answers a question again if their opinion has changed by hearing the other answers, or if one needs to refine ones answer based on taking into account the comments one receives. Next I would make it so it is easy to link answers to new questions. Some people mark follow-up questions but these are awkward, and it should be that any answer should be linkable to a new question, or that any question should be link able to a new question directly so that chains of questions and answers can be created. These chains of questions and answers specify the dialectical moments as they unfold. Then suddenly the Wiki part of the questions make sense as the place where the knowledge derived from the dialectical movement may be recorded. What happens in the questions and answer chains is that we refine our distinctions, and via refined distinctions we point toward knowledge, which ultimately is non-representable. But on the way to understanding the non-representables we pass though representations, and what is needed is an easy way for knowledge to be packaged. This is what the Google Knowls were meant to be, and so what I would do is include knowls into Quroa so that there is something like the articles and books that capture what is learned in longer arguments. Right now there is nowhere but the Wiki to put the gleaned knowledge, and the wiki is not an appropriate structure for that. Rather the wiki is a good place to give summaries, but summaries of opinion do not knowledge make. Unfortunately Google is killing off knowls, but it is unlikely that people will use two services together as I have tried to do in the past because it is just too inconvenient.

Now this structure would imitate what is going on in Science, and what we have all been taught to do in school.

The next step is to create a reputation system like exists on Stackexchange so we can recognize experts in certain fields. Once the reputation system exists then it will be possible to give those with higher reputation in an area greater weight in their votes. It would also be possible to make the economy of points that Quora is trying to establish make actual sense rather than just being random and uninteresting. Points could be given for people starting with the problematic and specifying approaches and then asking questions within an approach, and then giving answers to those questions, and then continuing to ask questions and giving answers in a chain, until they produced knowls or summarized in the wiki. What needs to be rewarded is building the whole structure with others somehow. Only some will actually engage in the dialectics based on problematics, but those who do will be exemplifying how knowledge is actually produced, and like worker bees people will crowd source the creation of knowledge. It would for sure still be a lowbrow sort of knowledge, but still it would be actual knowledge and not glorified opinion. The point is that everyone will benefit from the actual production of knowledge on Quora, because it will show exactly how it is done, and so people can learn anew what they were taught in school but perhaps did not understand completely, i.e. how to build knowledge with others via arguments and conversations, and exegesis of results built up in a dialectical fashion.

Now, I know that Quora will not be able to do this, because if they had understood it they would have done it from the beginning. But perhaps others are willing to join with me to create a system like this to replace Quora, let us call it MetaQuora or QuoraM. It should be fairly easy to do with the right talent. The object would be to create a system that actually produces knowledge outside of Academia by implementing the dialectic as a game. We can call that the Glass Bead Game that Hesse envisioned. Meta-Quora leaves Quora in place as Q&A for the masses, which is poorly designed, but a good base to show what happens when you do not facilitate the dialectical interaction of people. Once meta-Quroa starts to produce knowledge, rather than just good answers, then it will be shown that the best thing to do is to draw from our tradition when we make new media. The tradition of dialectics goes back to Plato, and was formalized by the Skeptics, and taken up and reified by Hegel. But basically the entire philosophical tradition is one huge dialectical game. There is no reason not to do this here and thus facilitate the creation of knowledge, which is infinitely more value than merely good answers. Knowledge is a bedrock you can build a worldview on and within a lifeworld build a life upon within the world. We know this is true because we have thousands of educational institutions that we pay good money to so that we may learn the knowledge that exists, and also learn how to create knowledge ourselves. But there is no reason this needs to be a lonely pursuit, rather it can be a communal pursuit, and a game that can help us build reputations as being knowledgeable, and also help us to learn how to produce knowledge ourselves within our own lives by example.
Notice Answer^n would mean you can give multiple answers but each one costs exponentially more points.

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Quora answer: Whither (or whence) “The Map of Time”?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

I just finished reading “The Map of Time” by Félix J. Palma

It is a strange book about multiple words theory with H.G. Wells as a time traveler.

I bought it for the picture on the inside cover. You should never judge a book by its inside cover. But I took a chance. Unfortunately this was a book like many novels with only one real thought.



The best thing about the book is this map of time. I was interested in it because it  coincides with my idea as to what Heterochronic time must be like. Here the map represents divergences from linear time that indicate multiple intersecting universes with different time lines. The papers are news paper articles from different timelines that say what happened along that time line. So here is the insight I see in the artwork. There is an interesting relation between times lines and writing that was the realization of Palma. Even if he could not really write an interesting story about it.

Different time lines will have different facts. Differance is operating between them creating differing and deferring in the writing about what happened in that particular universe. They all exist on different time lines with their differences.

As David Deutsch has said in The Fabric of the Universe the interferences between all the various universes is the Quantum Phenomena.

The heterochronic are the four orthogonal time lines that intersect in each time which has four orthogonal moments: past, present, future, and mythos.

We lost one moment from the symmetry breaking in the transition from the mythopoietic era to the metaphysical era.

Four dimensional Time. Four dimensional Space. The matrix of eight dimensional spacetime contained in the pluriverse. Each moment in time four dimensions of time and four dimensions of space intersect. But now we only see three dimensions of space and three dimensions of time. The fourth dimension of space is nowhere. The fourth dimension of time is the mythos.

Then we must ask whence the mythos has gone and whither the nowhere has gone.

Together they form a plane.

The cliff-face.

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Quora answer: Who is the Greek god watching over Penelope?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

The answer to this question is Dionysus.

Athena and Dionysus are nihilistic opposites of each other. Athena is born from the head of Zeus and Dionysus from the thigh. The opposite of this pair is Apollo and Artemis, the gods of male and female initiation in Greece. Apollo is a wolf god and Artemis is associated with bears. Young girls are initiated into bear clans as the young men are initiated into Wolf clans. Thus Apollo and Artemis represent the young and uninitiated coming to fruition as full adult members of the community. This natural separation between the male and female initiations is contrast with the liminal Athena who leads men in war outside the city and the effeminate Dionysus who leads the women who go mad outside the city to wander insane in the wilds tearing things apart and eating them raw, as well as cavorting with Satyrs. Maenads are the female worshipers of Dionysus, the only god to have known death and thus associated with Hades to whom the wives in the city are wed as they are bound to their hearths.

So when I read the Odyssey I kept wondering where Dionysus was, as he is the opposite of Athena and must be there somewhere. Then at some point I realized that he was in the suitors around Penelope. The suitors behavior is a drunken brawl which is a perfect exemplification of the sort of atmosphere that Dionysus engenders. And the point is that Dionysus is protecting Penelope, because all of the suites are preventing any one of them from actually capturing her as his own. You have to remember that the suitors are the sons of the crew of Odysseus which the Odyssey was written to exonerate him from the charge of having caused their death. He actually kills both generations one during the journey and the other on his return. Once we recognize that Dionysus is there protecting Penelope though the suitors all trying to get her to marry them, then the story becomes much more balanced because we realize that the Odyssey is a journey between these liminal and nihilistic extremes. It starts with Odysseus having been freed by Athena from the clutches of the nymph Calypso that holds him hostage on an island of Ogygia at the center of the sea. Odysseus was there for so long because he had made her angry by the violations during the looting of Troy. Odysseus was blamed for that by Athena. See The wrath of Athena: gods and men in the Odyssey  by Jenny Strauss Clay.

Odysseus was lost between the nihilistic opposites of Agamemnon who wanted to do sacrifices on the beach, and Menelaus who wanted to flee. Odysseus first fled but then returned to miss the sacrifices on the beach. Agamemnon who tarried arrived home first and was killed by his wife. Menelaus who fled arrived home later and had to live with the infamy of his wife’s disloyalty that brought the deaths of so many. But the one who could not decide whether to flee or stay to sacrifice was the most delayed of all in his returning. His trick caused Troy to fall and thus he was in the eyes of Athena responsible for the atrocities committed during the sack of Troy. This is why Athena was angry with him and why she let him languish so long on the island at the center of the sea, i.e. lost in oblivion.

Meanwhile Dionysus caused the suitors to be thwarted in their marriage suit with Penelope. None could take her because all wanted her and they together kept her safe from any one of them. The best book about this isArchery at the dark of the moon: poetic problems in Homer’s Odyssey  by Norman Austin. See also
Meaning and being in myth  by him.

Essentially the Odyssey travels between the two limits of Ogygia and the Archery in the Dark of the Moon. Athena actively helps Odysseus home after her anger subsides, and Dionysus passive helps preserve Penelope from a fate worse than death, being less than perfect as a wife by marrying someone else while her husband may still be alive. Penelope stands for everything that resists the fate of the Maenads, i.e. going mad and breaking out of the prisons of their homes. Penelope in order to avoid her fate worse than death unravels during the night what she revels during the day of her embroidery. This unraveling at night is a key metaphor for the turning back of time, and the reweaving of fate. We can think of Athena’s change of mind concerning Odysseus as one of these unravelings and reweavings. Odysseus was raveled into oblivion on  Ogygia where he was destined to be immortal. But little did that nymph Callipso know that Odyssues and woven his wife and his lives together by making their wedding bed part of the tree of life, Yaddrasil. Thus he was bound to Penelope in a perfect marriage that gave meaning to everything he does. Penelope is the opposite of Helen, she is the one who resists temptation and keeps to her vows even when her husband is away for a very long time. Helen weaves scenes of war and Penelope weaves scenes of peace, and loyalty, and contentment, and honor. When she unweaves her embroidery and then reweaves it she acts as if she were a Norn/Fate and remakes time, makes it into a time of reunion. She weaves new meaning into her world and prompts Athena to reunite her with her lost husband. And she can do that because her marriage to Odysseus is locked into the roots of the tree of life that holds everything in its embrace.

Odysseus is crying lost in oblivion and she hears he cry. It resounds through the wood of Yadrassil and is heard in the bubbling waters of the wells that are enfolded in the roots of the world tree.

The gods are perhaps the attuning ones. But that means that they are the ones most attuned. And it is the firmness of Penelope that causes them to become attuned to her desire to have her husband back, and thus turn back time, and reveal what is lost in oblivion to be recognized once again after so many years. We emphasize wrongly the homecoming of Odysseus. But without Penelope’s steadfastness there would be no home to return to. Penelope literally moves heaven and earth due to her persistence and faithfulness. The attuning ones are attuned to the depth of her commitment and they come to the rescue of Odysseus in oblivion and come to her rescues when the Suitors arrive to make her take one of them as her new husband, and thus taking the riches of Odysseus. Penelope and Odysseus have a marriage in which they join each other in supporting their friends and fighting their enemies. The whole purpose of the Odyssey is to show that nothing can stand against such a marriage as this which is a union merged to the roots of the tree of life itself and though which the whole of the world is given meaning. This is opposed to the marriages of Menelaus and Agamemnon which are nihilistic opposite fates in their union with their wives. One is killed by his wife and the other lives forever with an adulteress. The Marriage of Odysseus and Penelope is so strong time, even lostness in oblivion, cannot destroy it. In fact it is such a marriage that though its binding can reweave time itself and thus produce meaning of great depth in a meaningless world full of nihilistic opposites. Even the Gods of nihilism Athena and Dionysus participate in the reweaving of time based on the intention of Penelope to recover her husband even though she cannot leave her room.

What is untold is the story of the revelations of the goddesses that was the journey of Penelope during the years of her husband’s absence. Penelope confronted every goddess with her demand for the return of her husband and the upholding of the vows made upon the roots of the tree of life in their marriage bed. This insistent and unwavering demand was the means of the turning back of time and the reweaving of fate as she did dree her wyrd. It was not the tears of Odysseus calling out across the sea that turned the gods to attune to him as he tried to attune to them. He was wailing because a deep part of him was lost, his wife and his sacred marriage to her which was the perfect alchemical marriage that gave rise to the Far War, that kept them apart for whom their son was named. This mutual longing was strong enough to move heaven and earth. But it was the steadfastness of Penelope who made it possible with her demand that was made by continuing to dwell in her room in her husbands house without allowing any others to distract her or take her away. This demand of steadfastness challenged the gods and caused the world to turn on their axis. After all Odysseus feigned madness so as not to leave his wife. And it was only when his son was set before the crazy plow that his reason was seen to be intact. In other words rather than killing his child as did Agamemnon did, Odysseus gave up feigning madness when his child was in peril. Everything that Odysseus including the trick of the Trojan horse was designed to cut short his stay away from home and his wife and child and especially his father. Odysseus unlike Achilles sees his father again. And unlike Achilles does not draw his son into the conflict. All of the Metis of Odysseus is in service of this higher purpose of maintaining the marriage with Penelope and the household and their child’s life. His heroism is for her. And that is because he can recognize the difference between friend and foe, just as she can recognized her much changed returned husband. They are perfectly attuned to each other, and thus the attuning ones assist them in the preservation of that perfect attainment in the sacred marriage that holds up heaven and earth though the world tree. That is became this is the foundation for all the meaning in the world, and distinguishing it from its nihilistic alternatives is more important than anything else because it upholds the meaningfulness of the world itself.

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Quora answer: What notable similarities and differences exist among Systems Thinking, Lean thinking, and the Theory of Constraints?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Systems Thinking projects the “systems schema” on the ontic phenomena of the world some of which is organized in a way that affords that projection and other phenomena are not so organized, but better approached though some other schema, like Form, Pattern, Domain, OpenScape etc. The metaphor that Systems are based on is organisms. And we know that we treat living and dead things fundamentally differently in our own perceptual faculties so anything that is like an organism fits the system schema well. But we can treat other phenomena like they were organic wholes but this may be just a convention or a perceptual artifact and it might not be true of the ontic phenomena themselves.

Basically a System sees a boundary and entities (parts) within that boundary as having relations to each other that persist or are even causal. It if is arbitrary where we draw that boundary then we are dealing with a convention or a perceptual gestalt. Systems are really gestalts that persist over time despite dynamic changes in the boundary, parts, relations between the parts. (cf merotopology). Systems thinking sees systems everywhere and tries to understand things in terms of the system schema which is a template of understanding, but not the only one, there are others like form and pattern. The reason that systems are important is that in our tradition we normally see things as Forms, and so both Structures (Pattern schema) and Systems are alternatives to the Form schema that have become popular in the last century and continuing into this century. Systems thinking is the alternative to seeing everything as separable forms based on analysis. Systems are synthetic.

There is a huge leap from Systems Thinking to either Theory of Constraints or Lean or Agile thinking. These are dramatic refinements of systems thinking. A good bridge is Forresters Systems Dynamics modeling


Unacknowledged debt
Duncan (as cited by Steyn)[16] says that TOC borrows heavily from systems dynamics developed by Forrester in the 1950s and from statistical process control which dates back to World War II. And Noreen Smith and Mackey, in their independent report on TOC, point out that several key concepts in TOC “have been topics in management accounting textbooks for decades.”[17]

See See also

A good explanation is in Richardson, G.P.  1991/1999.  Feedback Thought in Social Science and Systems Theory. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; reprinted by Pegasus Communications, Waltham, MA.

Basically Systems Dynamics looks at the relations between system elements in terms of flows though pipes as represented by differential equations. It captures the fact that our linear thinking may not see unintended consequences and side effects caused by multiple interacting feedback loops.

A dynamic system can have changes that are events to be noted as part of their phenomenology. When we apply systems to our own development process then we can see that human productive systems have key events that signify milestones or inchstones in development. We can think of development in terms of queues of materials that go into production units (developers), and we want to control this development process as it plays out in time. Therefore the theory of constrain does this by controlling the wait of materials in Queues within the production system. All the buffers are taken up by the manager such that he can allocate them as necessary to preserve critical path, i.e. the chain of events that must occur for the schedule to be met. Theory of constraints is effective in dealing with conflicting constraints on resources within a large development project.

However note also

Claimed suboptimality of drum-buffer-rope
While TOC has been compared favorably to linear programming techniques,[12] D. Trietsch from University of Auckland argues that DBR methodology is inferior to competing methodologies.[13][14] Linhares, from the Getulio Vargas Foundation, has shown that the TOC approach to establishing an optimal product mix is unlikely to yield optimum results, as it would imply that P=NP.[15]

In other words Constraint theory is an approximation and in a complex system which is like the Traveling Salesman Problem the optimal solution may not be computable in the amount of time you have to do the computation.

However, Theory of Constraints is an excellent example of looking at a production system as a whole and attempting to make it more effective and efficient by getting rid of wasted time spent waiting in queues.

This idea that one can optimize a system has had two recent schools of thought associated with it. The first was Agile which attempts to make the production cells more effective. Theory of Constraints does not try to make the production cells better, but only deals with the spaces between them and how they are networked such as to reduce waiting in those queues, which is a truly systematic aspect of the overall systems behavior. However the production system has cells where production actually deals with what is in the Queues, and that can be made better as well. So Agile attempts to make both the individual and the team more productive by several focused strategies. It also tries to humanize those production cells so we see them as teams and individuals that matter and not just places in the production line which is good for morale. It emphasizes the self-organization of the group as a means to increase productivity. There are many good books on Agile so I won’t belabor it here. See

Lean was a slightly later movement in industry what attempted to make the production system more efficient by getting rid of waste. It basically applies the kind of thinking that happens in Theory of Constraints more widely looking for all kinds of waste in the production system and eliminating it.

There are seven Lean principles:

Lean development can be summarized by seven principles, very close in concept to lean manufacturing principles:

  1. Eliminate waste
  2. Amplify learning
  3. Decide as late as possible
  4. Deliver as fast as possible
  5. Empower the team
  6. Build integrity in
  7. See the whole

Notice that it ends with seeing the whole which is basically Systems Thinking.

Now I call the combination of efficiency (lean) and effectiveness (agile) = efficacy. Interestingly these are the dual of what Derrida calls DifferAnce (differing and deferring). And what I have shown in my Software Ontology paper is that Software is the one artifact we have that embodies Hyper Being, i.e. embodies Differance as defined by Derrida.

So it is interesting that it is in Software Development that there is this emphasis on Efficacy when at the core of Software development is DifferAnce or Hyper being.

So this brings us back to Heidegger’s critique of technology which as he says is characterized by enframing, i.e. the arrangement of everything as resources or standing reserves. He says that this underlying assumption in our era, makes us blind to other ways of being and leads to nihilism. A good book about that is called Nihilism and Technology by Phillip R. Fandozzi. The problem of this way of thinking according to Heidegger is that we start to see ourselves as Standing Reserves: i.e. Human resources whose only meaning comes from the production system. See The Mirror of Production by Baudrillard.

This critique of Heidegger makes us take a second look at Agile and Lean approaches and the paradigm change that they have wrought in software engineering which was a reaction against the CMMI and various waterfall and spiral methods used previously in the software industry. They are a way to rethink the way that we do production in Software to overcome the problems that have been discovered with old fashion ways of organizing these activities. However, we can also see them as an intensification of nihilism. In other words by applying techniques to make humans more productive we are increasing our own enframing. In other words we are operating in a Frame in which all that matters is productivity, and we are actually enframing ourselves in that regard, so we are not just a cog in a big machine, but a production cell in a network to be optimized and we end up trying to optimize ourselves (getting things done) but perhaps to the detriment to other perspectives we might take on our own humanity.

What we should think about carefully is that a new type of artifact “software” has appeared and is remaking our whole world. This artifact is the first to actually embody Hyper Being (DifferAnce). And it is difficult for us to produce it even though it takes actually less work than it did to create mechanical and electronic machines. These softmachines that we create are just written in Software Languages, and so the work is actually just typing. But because they are purely conceptual in some sense and not constrained by laws of nature in the same way as electrical and mechanical machines they have special properties that make us look at ourselves differently. DifferAnce (automated writing that creates differences from itself both in space and time) is in direct opposition to Efficacy which is our drive to optimize either the product (code) or ourselves producing the product (development). In a way what is happening in our software development environment is a clash between these two meta-distinctions between efficacy (efficiency/effectiveness) and differance (differing/deferring). What differance produces is the ineffective and inefficient. However, software itself in its total context makes things much easier and much harder at the same time within our lifeworld. It is easy because software is adaptable, and allows us to do things easily, but on the other hand the technological infrastructure in general is more fragile, more open to attack, more likely to deny us the very affordances that it promises. And we become the maintainers of this complex system of interdependencies that we may not understand very well in all its ramifications. That is why systems dynamics is a good tool because it acquaints us with those ramifications of side effects and unintended consequences of interacting feedback and feedforward loops. So we are coming to inhabit the heart of our technological system and are needed to keep the whole thing going. Autonomic and Self-* systems that take care of themselves is just a pipe dream at this point. So we are locked into our circumspective concern with the software  and hardware infrastructure that keeps our world going, just so we as users can enjoy the presentation of capabilities that are ultra-efficacious. But ultra-efficacy is traded off against intensifying difference seen in what are called Post-modern type phenomena of the proliferation of differences that themselves become autonomous. Earthquakes and Tsunamis that we did not design for upset the technological complex with disastrous unforeseen (because not looked for) consequences as occurred recently in Japan. So Japan who was the only nation to suffer the effects of nuclear blasts during WWII is the second nation to experience total meltdown of their nuclear infrastructure which spreads invisible death far and wide for many years to come as in Chernobyl and as almost happened at Three Mile Island.

Systems Thinking must be balanced with Meta-systems Thinking, i.e. its inverse dual that considers the environment. We are locked into Systems Thinking but blind to the Meta-systems: environments, ecologies, contexts, situations, media, etc that surround the systems that we create. It is this locked in aspect of our thinking that Heidegger calls the enframing. The enframing is nihilistic because it reduces everything to one point of view, i.e. what can be optimized as resources. It ignores that fact that the meta-optimal is a mix of optima and non-optima, i.e. a mix of efficacy and differance. Nietzsche was the one to ask the question of the Value of values. And here we need to ask the question of the Optimality of continual optimization. What we find is that meta-optimality includes both optimal and non-optimal in a balance rather than over emphasizing one or the other. Thus there will always be opacity that is irreducible and it is better to accept that up front because it would take an infinite amount of energy and perseverance to get rid of those opacities (like the charcoal of evil at the end of Time Bandits). What the enframing does is make us more mysterious to ourselves, as we recognize our inherent inefficiencies and ineffectiveness as human beings. The only way to make things truly neat and clean and optimized in every way is to get rid of human beings, and genocide then becomes the only alternative. See Coming to our Senses by M. Berman where nuclear war becomes a way to cleanse the world of humanity, cf. Dr. Strangelove. We really need to give ourselves a break as human beings, and realize that this dialectic between differance and efficacy is not the only way to look at things in the world including ourselves. Thus Systems Thinking is itself part of the enframing unless you keep in mind its inverse dual the meta-system openscape, i.e. the entire field which encompasses the system. Ultimately we need to look at the whole world and we can see it either as a system or a meta-system. One way looks at the chaos of International Waters and the myriad regional conflicts, and the other thinks that world government is possible. But system and meta-system themselves are not the only schemas. There is also others like facet, monad, pattern, form, domain, world, kosmos, and pluriverse. What we really need is Schemas thinking that applies all of them that we can discover and thus escapes the enframing by offering multiple meaningful perspectives that are supra-rationally connected and thus not relegated to separate disciplines with their own specialities and experts who cannot communicate. Essentially enframing is the fascination with contradiction, paradox and absurdity against which we define what is reasonable and logical. Anti-enframing is nondual and rooted in the suprarational that can consider opposite things as applying at the same time without interference or contradiction.

Zizek calls the gap between viewpoints a parallax view. But the supracrational sees that multiple and opposite in various ways views can interpenetrate without interfering, with mutual elucidation. Thus the suprarational does not focus on the discontinuities between viewpoints, but rather on their ultimate intersection at the meta-levels giving rise to the plethora of meanings and higher quality information and knowledge.

So Systems Thinking, Systems Dynamics, Critical Chain, Theory of Constraints, Agile and Lean approaches are all part of the enframing, that is their similarity. There difference is the depth to which they push the envelope of optimization. But the harder we push on optimization the more resistance we get in Differance, like for instance in the production of new programming languages based on different paradigms. Over optimization in one aspects leads to anti-optimization in some other aspect we are not focused on at the moment. Like a bump in the rug the point of difference is a floating signifier that keeps being pushed around without being affected in any way by our optimizing actions. This is the action of the enframing that keeps us busy optimizing while we miss the real point elsewhere. Don’t miss your life by being locked into the enframing, rather see more than the whole. Don’t just keep you eye on the whole that is greater than the sum of the parts, but also be aware that there is a whole that is less than the sum of the parts (a whole full of holes), i.e. the meta-system. We can represent it as the surreal numbers that are the dual of our normal stack of number types. The surreal numbers are the ones that represent the moves of the game. The total context of the game in play is another perspective that is worth keeping in mind as the total field of our human activities. Take a break and meditate. All these various techniques of thinking about complex development systems lack the perspective of play, of non-productiveness, exploration, creativity, innovation, etc. in various realms of our existence which is necessary to make life meaningful.

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Quora answer: Is the marriage between democracy and capitalism really dead, as Zizek said?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

A good book to read about this is the Mirror of Production by Baudrillard. Basically it makes the point that both Capitalism and Communism assume that human beings essence is their productivity. This is the assumption that they share and that is the thing that makes the duality nihilistic, i.e. when you realize that Capitalism and Communism at a very fundamental level are the same both interpreting humans as being primarily productive beings.

By the way this is part of what Heidegger calls the enframing, i.e. that sees everything as resources, including human beings themselves. Both Capitalism and Communism assume that human beings are resources for economic production, i.e. Human Resources.

The only difference is who owns the means of production, in the case of capitalism there is private ownership based on control of capital needed to set up the production process, and in which skilled and unskilled labor is bought in a free labor market. In Communism it is supposedly the workers who own the means of production, but in reality it turned out to be the Party and thus the State that the Party controls. In Capitialism there is competition between at least two parties over control of the state. And the state regulates the markets that are within its borders. But the state does not in Captialism own the means of production except in the case where the state has nationalized some industry. This kind of partial ownership and strong regulation of what it does not own is called Socialism or Fascism. The difference between Fascism and Socialism is whether the “people” within the state are seen as a Folk, i.e. as having a national identity, or whether the “people” are seen as a mass. Fascism is called National Socialism, i.e. Socialism in which the Folk of the country are seen as having a particular character, or genetic make up, or race that sets them apart from other peoples and for whom the institutions are adapted specifically in some irrational way. Socialism which sees the people as a mass has no special adaptations of this kind. Hitler saw his own economic system as the middle ground between Capitalism and Communism which is oligarchical and in which the capitalism has to serve the interests of the nation, i.e. making munitions and armaments for instance.

What was unforeseen with respect to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in which the intellectuals are supposed to rule until the Workers are capable of taking over rule, is that the dictatorship never ends. So both National Socialism and Communism which are in fact duals of each other and were locked into mortal conflict from the end of World War I in Germany in many street fights and riots. When Communism took over Russia and the Fascists took over Germany then this civil strife started to become a battle between the states. It was the preparation for this conflict that caused Hitler to invade Poland to garner what he called enough Living Room, i.e. a buffer between Germany and Russia. This conflict was the primary organizing factor of World War II because Hitler realized that it did not have easy access to petrol and other resources that Russia had, and Germany was relatively small compared to Russia. So Hitler decided to take over Europe to gain the size necessary to fight the Soviets on a more equal footing. In History books I do not think this perspective is normally considered. Normally it is the Allied Powers against the Axis Powers with Britain and America playing the leading role and the threat of Russia to Germany is not really mentioned as the number one factor organizing the dynamic of the build up to the war.

But of course we know what happened, the Allies defeated the Fascists after fierce fighting all over the world. But immediately there was a face off between the former allies against the Germans, i.e. the Soviets and the Americans and English, along with Western Europe which was liberated from the Germans by the English and the Americans.

Communism eventually fell in Russia, and Capitalism congratulated itself. But little did is suspect that its true enemy was about to arise, which was China. Communist China decided to modernise its economy and became Ultra Capitalist under the rule of the Communist Party. In perfect Capitalism there is unlimited resource of cheap, preferably slave labor and a unification strict regulation of private ownership under the control of the state. Hitler achieved this in his enslavement of unsavory members of his society from the point of view of his Race centered view of nationalism. So China has gone from a rural economy to an economy more like national socialism where the oligarchy is the members of the party itself. Nice thing about this is that there isn’t any regulation to deal with. Slave Labor plus No Regulation plus state control of the economy to assure monopolies continue to function without interference makes for almost perfect Capitalism. In light of this European Capitalism seems very inefficient because it is imperfect Capitalism which is regulated, where there are free labor markets, and monopolies discouraged except for utilities. European capitalism has the interference of the organization of Labor and collective bargaining to deal with which was the compromise that kept communism out of the European Labor force. So what we realize is that Capitalism has met its match in perfect capitalism under a modernizing at all costs Communist regime in China. Democracy is yet another of those inefficiencies that China has foregone, because it is inefficient to lose control of the State to another party in a cycle, and China does not have that problem. It believes in using extreme force to put down pro-democracy movements like that which happened in Tiananmen Square. So we might say that Capitalism has met its match in it is perfect capitalism under a communist regime, a kind of hybrid that provides slave labor and ultra cheap products to the Capitalist word in exchange for their debt off of which China can capitalize its own exploits, like economic colonialization of Africa and building empty mega-cities and modernization of their military-industrial complex. Between OPAC petrol dollars and Chinese Walmart dollars the United States, the so called last superpower is being sucked dry. We have little manufacturing left, and our infrastructure is made to run on petrol which is a dwindling reserve, and thus slated to become very expensive.

Now all this ideological warfare in both hot and cold wars throughout the Twentieth century and into the Twenty First century is based on the idea that human beings are made to be productive, and it is the harnessing of this productivity as labor which is the fundamental operation of the ideologies. The only question is who controls the means of production, and how is the human resources as a standing reserve allocated. And basically this means that liberal democracy and free market capitalism with light regulation by the state, is pitted against various forms of totalitarian regimes, whether it be Fascist, Soviet Communist, or Modern Chinese Communism which is rural as opposed to Maoist rural Chinese Communism. Totalitarianism is more efficient than Free Market and Democratically controlled Capitalism with the checks and balances that protect the population from monopolistic exploitation that is much easier under Totalitarian regimes. And what is so Ironic is that in our foreign policy we have shown that we prefer to deal with dictatorships than the uncertainty of democratic countries, and that is why we have toppled so many regimes. Thus we believe in freedom only for ourselves and the exploitation of others outside of our country around the world. And so in some ways we get what we deserve when we confront these large totalitarian states which we  have been at war with over the last century. We pay lip service to our values but when it comes to others we have a policy of promoting dictatorships so that we can maintain stability for our economic interests overseas. So our policy is to promote dictatorships everywhere but at home, and only begrudgingly support freedom movements when there is no other choice as in the Arab Spring movements and our response to them. So our use of slave labor overseas is merely the inverse of that of Modernizing Communist China or Fascist Germany which uses slave labor internally to hold down wages and gain competitive advantage over their trading partners who do not have slave labor pools.

So if we see the fundamental assumption of human productivity as a resource to be controlled as a standing reserve as the fundamental assumption of all the three major ideologies of the last century and going into this century, then we understand the inherent nihilism of that enframing (as Heidegger calls it).

It turns out that Greece and Rome two of the other original democracies had the ame problem and this eventually cause them to  sink into Dictatorships. Overreaching of empires built on democracy eventually leads to sovereignty being lost by the people. Bataille has a lot to say about Sovereignty and its relation to the Accursed Share. Deleuze and Guattari puts Sovereignty between the Savage and the Captialist phases of their view of history. In the Primitive stage there is only the flows across the territory, but in sovereignty all those flows are appropriated to the sovereign as his exclusive progressive. In capitalism all the flows are re=terratorialized and they break free of any organizing control. The various ideologies of the Twentieth Century have attempted to get Capitalism under control and reassert sovereignty in various ways. Only Liberal Democracy has avoided so far that pitfall. When Deleuze and Guattari say Capitalism I believe they mean all the forms of ideology that believe in production alone as the way of understanding human being within the enframing that considers labor as a resource.  They make the point that this unfettered re-territorialization leads to schizophrenia as a symptom of the degeneration of the society as it impacts the individual. Their psychology was developed specifically to be anti-Lacanian, by bringing in the social dimension, and thus was Anti-Oedipal.

Now here is the interesting thing returning to Zizek. Zizek and Badiou, both brands of communist, attack Derrida and Deleuze first because they are the previous generation of intellectuals that must be overcome, but also because Derrida explored Hyper Being (DifferAnce) and Deleuze explored Wild Being as defined by Merleau-Ponty in The Visible and Invisible. These are the higher meta-levels of Being that are a stairway to nowhere which Heidegger began to climb in Being and Time with the identification of Pure Being (present-at-hand) and Process Being (ready-to-hand). Heidegger himself abandoned Ontological Difference because he thought this was an infinite regress, and developed the idea of the dual of Being, i.e. Beyng instead. However, it turns out that this is not an infinite regress but instead is a finite stairway to nowhere like in the Winchester House. That is because at the core of Being is a phase transition to Existence at the fifth meta-level so there are only five meta-levels of Being. Now the question is why is Zizek and Badiou each in their own way attempting to roll back these realizations about the profound depths of Western Ontology especially since is has become clear that Plato in the Timaeus recognized at least the Third and perhaps even a fourth Kind of Being.

Now this is a complex question that would take us into the core of the philosophies of Zizek and Badiou. For the most part Zizek agrees with Badiou and sees that Badiou’s attack on Ontology by reducing it to Set Theory is deeper than his own reinterpretation of Lacan for the masses. Badiou is basically saying that Being is only Pure Being, i.e. purely present-at-hand if it is embodied in Math. But to this Badiou must add the Multiple prior to ultra-one, and the Event. Now the event, the emergent event, is the appearance of time as discontinuity. The Multiple on the other hand is as pure heterogeneity is a way to talk about space prior to its becoming a singular, i.e. prior to the a priori synthesis that appears with the ultra-one. So against Pure Being Badiou posits a kind of Process Being that is pure discontinuity in time, and pure heterogeneity in space. This is process Being imagined as a “meta-system” to the system of Set Theory. It is an attempt to think the inverse dual of the Set, which is of course a Mass. In this case a Spacetime Mass made up of instances purely separated in time and space like the complex plane.

Now for Zizek this becomes the image of the unconscious the meta-system in relation to the system of consciousness. If we follow Plotnitsky in In the Shadow of Hegel then we can see that Hegel was the ultimate systematic philosopher, which so disgusted both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche that they created Existentialism. So Zizek’s task is to think this meta-system via Lacan via Hegel and thus invent the anti-dialectic, i.e. the Parallax View by which the System of Hegel (and thus Language in Lacan’s case) remains broken open and unsystemiatized. Zizek produces the open field of the unconscious as meta-system and for him all of Culture is the Unconscious not just language. Democracy breaks open the Subject of Sovereignty in a similar way and allows multiple flows rather than a centrally organized flow of resources. Sovereignty captures the accursed share for itself, while democracy breaks up the accursed share into myriad rhizomatic flows that allows endless re-territorialization. This endless reterritorialization is dangerous for the ultra-ideology of human productive resources because it means that human potential can be siphoned off into myriad unproductive activities, meditation for example. In capitalism leisure is reserved for the 1% (many of which are CEOs, not just those who have inherited wealth) with a little begrudgingly given to the 99% as vacation or unemployment in the standing reserve of available labor.

Zizek and Badiou are dedicated to the suppression of Hyper and Wild Being and that is why they attack Derrida and Deleuze the explorers of these new meta-levels of Being beyond those identified by Heidegger in Being and Time. They are dedicated to the proposition that the original matrix between Process and Pure being is all there is, and thus they are limiting human potential to explore and make use of these higher levels of Being that continue to unfold prior to the transformation into Existence. Badiou in Set Theory embraces infinite regress of Cantor of infinities themselves while it was the possibility of infinite regress in kinds of Being that forced Heidegger to try to think the dual of Being, i.e. Beyng.

Hyper Being is expansion and Wild Being is contraction, and Zizek an Badiou are part of that contraction of our concept of the profound depths of Being, just as they are a return to the ideals of communism, after it had lost its luster in the era of Deleuze and Derrida after the time of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty where being a communist was de rigueur. There was a time when every self-respecting intellectual was communist, and then came McCarthy, and his blacklist, and then came the dumbing down of America by that means as the Media took up the cause of fighting communist intellectualism at home. Now we get candidates for President that can’t even talk, they show off their anti-intellectualism with pride. George W. Bush said he read a book at College.

So we can see Zizek and Badiou as enacting the contraction of Wild Being although they reject it in the form that Deleuze explored. And they pick up Lacan as the anti-Derrida, as the one who knows the Unconscious as language and its registers. I believe that the secret inspiration behind Lacan is Jung. Lacanian and Jungian psychoanalysis seem to me almost indistinguishable, except for the sophisticated semiotic and structuralist techniques employed by Lacan that Jung did not know about, so he settled for the inversion of Plato’s ideas into archetypes, and a secret conversation with Nietzsche the first self-declared psychologist of his age. Zizek and Badiou take different ways into the unconscious of the Mitsein as laid out by Lacan. Badiou seeks to find it behind Set theory and Logic. Zizek hopes to find it by reducing Lacan to Hegel and thus gaining a meta-systemic reading of Hegel via Lacan, and a systematic reading of Lacan via Hegel.

The actual answer to the question is that the royal alchemical marriage (ala Jung) between “Schizo-Capitalism” and “Representative Democracy” is Undead. It is the Undead that truly unnerves us as Zombies that we cannot tell from conscious human beings. Schizo-Capitalism, i.e. Global corporatism which combines Fascism, Communism, and Capitalism, the three ideologies that fought it out in the last century is the meta-system to sovereignty the system. After the USA became the last ideology standing through the following the approach of self-freedom and other-slavery as we see in Greece and Rome at the height of their empires rather than self-enslavement with dictatorships claiming sovereignty in totalitarian regimes. But by becoming the only imperial power globally, we realized that we were locked into an economic war in a downward spiral with OPEC countries with petrol dollars on the one hand and Chinese Fascism on the other with its Walmart dollars. This is another meta-systemic configuration that is the inverse of the ideological one, i.e. a purely economic one based on the logic of corporatist globalization. Thus our winning the Ideological war threw us into its inverse a falling into an economic black hole called our national debt and deficit spending, and the concomitant printing of money to sustain the economy when the bottom has already really fallen out. So we are kept in this undead state, not solvent, but not in a global depression either. Endless repetition of saving measures that do not work. We were alive when we had the fascists to actively battle, we started to go into a coma during the cold war, but now that the cold war is over, now with peace breaking out everywhere something had to be done, and the War on Terror was the answer. But that is just a distraction from the real economic war we are losing with OPEC and a Fascist China. The United States, once called the Big Island, because of its isolation from the rest of the world and self-absorption with its freedoms without responsibility is the Openness that is the dual of the closure of dictatorships around the world we support actively, which have been falling lately, due to the false hope of freedom in those off shore from the Big Island. Like the British that was almost bankrupt by the Falklands War, our expensive wars at a time of economic crisis and collapse is our hubris. Wars with Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran in succession is likely to do the same to us. And it is fairly clear that either the democracy or the empire has to go eventually. Democracy is just too inefficient. The Empire is too expensive to maintain. Worst case is that they both go. Most likely scenario is that we lose our empire, and that drives us into Dictatorship as we struggle to maintain it when it ceases to be viable. Other powers are in the wings ready to take center stage while we are pushed to the periphery. The only thing good about the War on Terror is that it has woken us up to the presence of the genuine Other, those who want us dead at all costs, and are willing to die to just make a small dent in our illusion of ultimate power and invisibleness. We call ourselves the Greatest country on earth, but that greatness does not extend to offering universal healthcare to our own citizens. Our greatness does not extend to extinguishing racism. Our greatness does not extend to solving the problem of homelessness amongst our youth. If our greatness does not include everyone in our country, then what is the likelihood that it is anything but Hubris. And Hubris as the Greeks and Roman history attests ends in tragedy for democratic hopes by submersion into Sovereignty. Empires always fall under their own weight through over extension. The world is likely to become a much more dangerous place because the globe can only be a meta-system, it can never be a system. And this is in part the lesson that Zizek wants to teach us. Our worst enemy is our own unconscious within the culture. It is our illusions of grandeur. A little humility would go a long way to solving these problems, but is unlikely to occur before the even deeper crisis to come. Flocks of Black Swans are on the horizon. Zizek gets no more joy than pointing out all the possibilities in this regard. And in a sense the marriage of the Undead of Capitalism and the NonDead of Democracy is just the tip of the iceberg of the myriad wicked problems that await us in the meta-system of globalization on a deteriorating planet. Green corporate slogans will not save us from ourselves even if we are acting as a body politic in politically correct ways.

See Capitalism: Does China Do Capitalism Better Than America?
Intelligence Squared Debate on this Question:

See Globalization: Is It Time To Clip America’s Global Wings?
Intelligence Squared Debate on this Question:


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Quora answer: What is the most interesting aspect of Zizek’s reinterpretation of Lacan?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

For me the important thing to realize about Lacan is that he already had a whole career in Psychoanalysis before he started his own school though his writings. When Structuralism came along he realized that he could reinterpret Freud via structuralism and semiotics and thus started on his journey of pursuing his esoteric reinterpretation of Freud. Prior to that he was friends with Dali and other surrealists and had listened to Joyce read parts of Ulysses in Paris. So he was fairly far out as an intellectual already before all this work of reinterpretation of Freud. Also he took along with everyone else the Hegel course of Hyppolite. Due to the lack of substance in Freud’s work Lacan had to appeal to Hegel in order to have any depth in his critique of Freud. Lacan was also very influenced by Heidegger, and knew him personally. Since it is clear that Heidegger had appealed to Hegel’s phenomenology in Being and Time in order to get some distance from the Phenomenology of Husserl and because Heidegger says himself that Dasein is Geist, then you could read at some level Hegel and Heidegger as being the same despite Heidegger’s critiques of Hegel. Being and Time begins and ends with Hegel. Basically we can see Heidegger’s Being and Time as a thinking though Husserlian Phenomenology based on Hegel’s Phenomenology with an appeal to Aristotle’s kinds of knowledge as a foundation. If Episteme is present-at-hand theoretical knowledge then techne stands between Episteme and Phroness (Judgement). Thus the root of techne (as skill and arte) is phroness. So Phroness becomes the ready-to-hand circumspective concern. Techne exhibits totality while Episteme exhibits unity. But the root in Phroness which is attributed to Dasein. Technology then at the interface between Episteme and Phroness becomes the source of nihilism.

Lacan famously has three registers Symbolic, Real, Imaginary.

Episteme is Symbolic = Present-at-hand = Theory = Pure Being
Technology is Imaginary = Synthesis = Synthetic Apriori
Phroness is Real = Ready-to-hand = Circumspective Concern = Process Being

Dasein is in Hegel’s logic the first determination after the positing of the difference between Being and Nothing (explicitly Buddhist Emptiness). Heraclitian Flux is the synthesis of these two opposites and the first determination, i.e. next level thesis is Dasein.

So notice that Flux is Process Being. But the episteme gives us the difference between Being and Nothing as mixed in the flux. Thus the first determination is Dasein which is the German technical word for Existence used by Hegel. We might call it determinate being. So Dasein is the first determinate Being and thus we stand Hegel’s logic on end so that we can see that from determinate being comes the process being of Heraclitian flux in which as practice phronesis rules and then the episteme where we distinguish the distinction between Being and Emptiness (aka Nothing).

Heidegger says that Kant first had Imagination as an independent faculty in the first version of the Critique. Heidegger uses that as his gateway into the comprehension of Dasein. Dasein is the source of the projection of the synthetic apriori, which is the basis for the projection of the world.

So in a way we can see Eptisteme and Phronesis coming out of Techne as the production of synthetic wholes by craft.

When we distinguish between Symbolic, Imaginary and Real, the source is the Imaginary as the upwelling of a priori synthesis. What is symbolic is what we can understand in language that is conventional. What is real is the whole problem of True names in Plato’s Cratylus (i.e. what is really out there that is indicated by language but not captured by it).

As I have shown previously in various answers here on Quora the distinction between Rede, Verstehen, and Befindlichkeit which have their core of Sorge comes from Parmenides three ways:

Rede = Talk = Being = Symbolic = Present-at-hand = Episteme = Reason
Verstehen = Understanding = Appearance = Imaginary = Techne
Befindlichkeit = Discoveredness = Non-Being = Real = Phroneses = Experience

For Kant Understanding was the intersection between Reason and Experience. Reason on its own being caught up in the antinomies and unable to create anything but illusory metaphysical dogmas.

So from this we can see that there is in Lacan’s registers a homeomorphism between the insights that Being and Time is based on coming from Aristotle’s kinds of knowledge which goes all the way back to Parmenides three ways.

Once we have this fundamental philosophical framework in place then it is just a matter of using the approaches of semiotics and structuralism to read Freud anew through the lens of Hegel/Heidegger and to my mind that is precisely what Lacan did.

Zizek then comes back and treats the real Lacan as the later Lacan who he sees as identical to Hegel. And because Lacan’s work is derived from Hegel via Heidegger and the Hyppolite course then this is not only possible but it does little violence to Lacan and allows Zizek to systematize Lacan, and then use that as  a basis for cultural critique as well as the critique of Derrida and Deleuze the last generation of famous French philosophers with the most depth.

Zizek’s own contribution is in the deconstruction of the Dialectic by producing the anti-dialectic of the Parallax Views and the Anagogoic Swerve between them that jumps over the discontinuities. This turns Hegel’s “System” into a Meta-system. Cf. Plotnitsky In the Shadow of Hegel and Complementarities.

Language is the Unconscious is the axiom of Lacan. Language is symbolic. But when read from beneath, i.e. from the point of view of techne and phronesis it turns into a meta-system, i.e. the deconstructed dual of the system. In that case we dive into the metaphorical basis of language and all that is implicit in those metaphors.

Bourdieu says that practice is a black box in Logic of Practice, but de Certu says that in our practice of language we can see something of what is happening inside practice, and that it is really a gray box because we use the practices of language in our stories about what happened in our practices. Stories are the interface between theory and practice, and stories are the imaginary use of language. So the narrative is the techne that mediates between the conceptual content of the story, and the tropes by which we tell the story and make it interesting linguistically.

The story of who we are hides and also displays everything about us through our semiotic practices. Lacan focuses on those. And what is surprising is how much Lacan’s work resembles that of Jung. Lacan worked with Jung in his residency. I see Lacan as a more sophisticated version of Jung even though as far as I know Lacan never mentions Jung explicitly. I think Jungian and Lacanian psychology is basically the same thing just using a different vocabulary for exploring the collective unconscious, i.e. the immersion in the Mitsein.

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Quora answer: What is a Zizek’s “Parallax View”?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

The Parallax View is a remarkably good book. I recommend your reading it. It is his way of talking about the Anagogic Swerve, i.e. the veering from one viewpoint to another with respect to the same subject matter. It is a discontinuous crossing between viewpoints. Since it is one of the few books on the anagogic swerve I spent a long time reading it and got a lot out of it. This book is much more substantial than most of the other books I have read of his which are mainly the books on his re-interpretation of Lacan. This book too makes the convincing case that Lacan is really just Hegel in disguise. Marxists are realizing that Hegel was a much deeper thinker than Marx and so are returning home to Hegel in order to get the necessary depth to deal with the demise of Soviet style communism.

It more or less crystallizes Zizek’s method of turning everything upside down and emphasizing the gap that appears in the transition. Of course, this is Nietzsche’s old trick. But Nietzsche did not concentrate on the gap being produced in the process of turning things upside down. Zizek concentrates on that gap and its irreconcilability. But this only works because Nihilism is there structuring the dualities within the Western worldview and thus producing the gap between the radical and artificial nihilistic opposites. Zizek makes use of all these structural transformations but does not really explain why they are there in the first place to be made use of. His normal engagement is to say why something is really the opposite of what it appears at first glance, and this sameness is what gives the nihilistic effect. Zizek recognizes the nihilism and the sameness, but often reduces it to a joke which emphasizes the turning of from one perspective into the other unexpectedly.

For the most part Zizek seems to be right about the curious inversions. And many of the twists and turns are quite unexpected. But once you understand them then you wonder why you did not think of that yourself. So Zizek turns out to be very insightful reading concerning cultural and social phenomena. He clarifies issues between Kant and Hegel as well as elucidating Lacan as the anti-Derrida along the way. Lacan is famously obscure. And Zizek’s interpretation of Lacan is compelling if for no other reason that one feels at least that one can understand him for the first time. However, there is no way to verify Zizek’s interpretation of Lacan, so one just has to take it on faith that it is close enough to the mark to make sense to the uninitiated. However I have not started the work of trying to verify his interpretation as yet. So we may see some surprises. For instance Merleau-Ponty said that certain things were in the Husserl archive that no one else could find. But I have yet to hear of any Lacanians protesting. But that is probably because they don’t understand their master well enough to protest.

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Quora answer: Does Zizek’s Marxism contradict his own philosophy based on his reinterpretation of Lacan?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

See my answer to
Kent Palmer’s answer to Slavoj Žižek: Why is Slavoj Zizek hailed as such a badass by some?

Short answer is No. Long answer is Yes.

Zizek in his politics is the fallen anti-hero of a lost cause that generates incredible nostalgia for an old enemy we could understand, because we have become like them in our struggle with the Soviets.

Zizek as psychoanalyst is the priest to the oracle of Lacan, the anti-Derrida, the real source behind all the work of Deleuze besides Merleau-Ponty. Deleuze took pieces of Lacan and tried to make them comprehensible. Zizek makes all of Lacan comprehensible because he is seen as a foil for Hegel’s views, just as Lacan used Freud as a Foil via semiotics for Hegel’s views.

Marxism turns Hegel upside down, and in the process loses all the meaning. So really Marxism and Hegelianism are two sides of the same coin, i.e. the unintelligible half and the intelligible half, or vice versa as tastes vary. There is no accounting for tastes in philosophy.

So to the extent that Hegelianism is really intelligent Marxism then no there is no contradiction.

But to the extent that Marxism turned into Soviet Communist Totalitarianism, and Zizek says if at first you don’t succeed try, try again, and thus indulges in what Deleuze talks about as Repetition (i.e. Repetition is that which cannot be repeated.) then there is a contradiction, because Zizek believes that there can be an ideal Marxism that really does serve the proletariat instead of enslaving them through bureaucratic dictatorship. as the Chinese do to create our commodities which they then finance our buying. Communism we see in China is really prefect capitalism. And so what was meant to destroy capitalism (We will bury you! [shoe resolutely hitting podium]) has in the post cold war period turned into ultra capitalism and made a death pact with Corporatism which is the oligarchy that rules American though the power of Lobbyists supported by “person” corporations who keep failed Republican candidates alive merely by pouring in more money. Thus we live in the world of the undead political candidates that an hang on in spite of continuing to lose. The undead political candidates propped up by Big Money from Corporations given personhood by Bush Supreme Court, i.e. the unliving, transform our political process before our eyes. And this idealization by Zizek’s naive politics, is in sharp contrast to his sharp and insightful reading of Lacan as Hegel, thus bringing Hegel back from the dead. Analytic Philosophy had thought it had killed Hegel, as well as the radicalization of Hegel as Nietzsche. But now that there is no Soviet communism, communism is free to be reborn according to Zizek, as the protection of the commons, as Zizek said in his speech to the kids in Occupy WallStreet. Joe McCarthy is rolling over in his grave, as he hears the echos of the children of middle class America repeating verbatim the words of Zizek’s speech to the occupy Wall Street not “flower children” any more but weed children now. Weeds growing up through the cracks in Wallstreet. Zizek says go home but do not forget that this was not just another Woodstock, a memory to warm you in your old age, so you can say I was there. But hopefully a beginning of real grass-roots change. But now the camps have been dismantled by the powers that be, for sanitary reasons. And the ideal of occupation until change occurs has been shattered. By the way the change Obama promised but did not deliver on. His corporatist agenda made it inconvenient to prosecute fraud that led to the financial meltdown. Where would the money come from for the next election if we put into prison the prime donors. In short the naïve political ideals of Zizek is in sharp contrast and in contradiction to his sophisticated psychoanalytic analysis of Lacan and Hegel, and though them of our current Social and Cultural scene.

And so we are fascinated by Zizek because he is everything we are not. We are not merely liberal democrats fighting Soviet communism with Reagan anymore. And so we look at him and see the old enemy, the one like us, the one we could understand. On the other hand Zizek is a consummate intellectual, something we gave up during the McCarthy era with the purge of intellectuals in our culture, and so we lost the institutional and cultural as well as social support for intellectualism, and thus our society could not produce someone like Zizek if it wanted to. All our intellectuals are lame, hobbled by the fact that our society has become dumbed down to such an extent that they are culturally irrelevant no matter what they say, so they stick to their specialties, and worry about their chances of getting tenure. Zizek is fearless in saying that the King has no clothes on. But the alternative he offers is a return to Communist ideological sovereignty and totalitarianism. He does not yet realize we have entered a post ideological age. Fukayama calls it the end of History in the Hegelian sense. It is the end of the struggle of ideologies because they have all merged into Corporatism which is Communism (China providing slave labor) + Fascism (the smooth running bureaucracy that broke up the Occupy camps for sanitary reasons) + global capitalism in the form of stateless corporate personhood seeking economic world colonialization and domination which is backfiring on us. Obama has the agenda of supporting corporatism to the utmost as lucidly pointed out by Ron Paul. Obama uses drones to kill Al-Queda as well as american citizens never put on trial thus violating at will the sovereignty of other nations, showing that nation states territory is not theirs alone and cannot be sanctuaries for terrorists. Meanwhile at home he does not prosecute the economic crimes on Wallstreet that led to the financial disaster of corporations run wild, thus showing that the economic territory staked out by financial institutions is unviable even if it wreaks destruction on the rest of society.

As Zizek himself would say this contradiction political ideal and psychological reality does not lead to a synthesis, but remains an open wound. We are living in that wound, and Zizek is happy to point it out to us on every occasion he gets.

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Quora answer: If I really enjoy reading Slavoj Zizek but want to read something more reasonable, whom should I read?

Apr 08 2013 Published by under Uncategorized


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