Jan
14

Beginning with Heidegger

Millerman draws our attention to Heidegger as a source of key philosophical and political contributions that have shaped thought since his contributions in Beginning with Heidegger (2020). I came across Millerman via Dugin, some of whose books he has translated into English. This book is a slightly modified version of Michael Millerman's 2018 PhD thesis with the University of Toronto (available freely on the university's website). A few notes:

"One of Heidegger's main ideas is that the major concepts from the Western philosophical tradition are historically constituted, rather than universal or timelessly true. Today this appears trivial. But that is in part influence of Heidegger influence. Previously, concepts like "truth" and "right" were regarded as stable, universal, or eternal, and they served to an extent as foundational concepts used to justify social and political orders." (p. xi)

""The mere 'criticizing' from any arbitrary standpoint, the counting up of errors...on the 'basis' of a philosophy that is 'free of standpoint,'" he continues, "is not so much wrong as it is simply childish." Thus, neither the criticisms of an arbitrary standpoint, nor the mere identification and enumeration of errors are required. Rather, the need is for an "essential correspondence" as "confrontation," that is, to test, or to be tested by "the claim of an essence of truth" that a given thinker and we ourselves might stand under, thus to "gain clarity about ourselves" (p. xxix)

"Heidegger never elaborated a "political theory" out of the grounds of inceptual thinking. Despite a few remarks on Germany, Russia, and America, he never constructed a comprehensive "theory of international relations." And although he relates the questioning of being to the question of "who" a people are, his writings are without extended thematic construction of something like an "existential theory of society." By contrast, Dugin extends Heidegger in precisely these directions. Importantly, he extends his criticisms of Nazi "metaphysics," too. The proponents of a political philosophy that leaps into another beginning criticize Nazism as incompatible with inceptual thinking, following Heidegger's own muted theoretical criticisms of Nazism." (p. xliii)

"Heidegger's importance for political theory is immense. but the access to Heidegger required for political theory is not easily obtained. It requires a destruction, or deconstruction, of both post-Heideggerianism, which lies mainly on the political left, and anti-Heideggerianism, which characterizes the political liberal right known for invoking natural right against history. Except for complete indifference to philosophy, perhaps the greatest obstacle blocking access to Heidegger is the view that his philosophy is Nazism or at the very least abets it. While thralldom to certain themes in Heidegger can lend itself to uncritical sympathies for various elements of a Nazistic worldview, non-Nazi political zealotry concerning Heidegger can also lead to philosophical blindness or even to war against philosophical inquiry. Both risks must be avoided, and both the philosophical and political must receive their due. When they do, political theory can become more than an academic discipline and can serve as an invitation to conversations and configurations, transformations and constitutions, turning and events." (p. 214) 

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Dec
02

King of the Castle

I picked up King of the Castle by Gai Eaton (1990) largely by accident. I saw someone reading the book on a flight; both the author and the book brief sounded unique, so I ordered a copy. A few quotes:

"Since unbelief lies at the root of almost all that is said or thought or done in our time, it follows that the believer's critique of the modern world cannot be less than radical." (p. 18)

"Before our eyes in the course of decades, not centuries, a new kind of world is coming into being, a world populated almost exclusively by dependants; but dependent upon whom and with what safeguards? Whether those who control the machinery of the State, the leaders in one country or another, have seized power or been elected by a mass-electorate which votes only on immediate, bread-and-butter issues, and whether they are motivated by self-interest or good intentions, one thing is sure: they are themselves controlled by forces of change which they do not understand and, in obeying these forces, they are restrained neither by immutable principles nor by the weight of custom and tradition. The brakes have been taken off; and there is nothing to suggest that these people know where they are going." (p. 60-61)

"The arrogance of the West in relation to other cultures is decently cloaked in our time, for this is an age of polite falsities; but it has not been outgrown. The fact that non-Europeans are expected to adopt Western patterns of government and 'post-Christian' morality (as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations) is evidence of this." (p. 165)

"What the Muslims call the Holy War is in fact the opposition of the unified and God-centred man to the forces of dissipation and chaos both within and outside himself. Such warfare is likely, in our times, to provide a history of defeats and failures - at least so far as our environment taken as a whole is concerned - but this is precisely why we are told that less is expected of us than was expected of the men of earlier periods. Defeat does not matter, because it is by fighting this war that we become what we are, and the achievement of integrity is not dependent upon the quantitative and temporal outcome of that struggle. Our concern is only with doing what we are capable of doing. The rest is out of our hands." (p. 198) 

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Jun
29

Thomas Pogge and his critics

The edited collection, Thomas Pogge and His Critics (2010), edited by Alison Jaggar, is an excellent collection of chapters by an exceptional line up of philosophers focused on justice. The critics present a series of challenges, critiques and clarifications for Pogge's work, such as on positive duties, the inclusion of rights protection, the causes of global poverty and calls for change, amongst others. The final chapter is a (lengthy) response by Thomas Pogge himself to the chapters. Recommended for those interested in the philosophy and ethics related to global justice. A few notes:

Alison Jaggar in the Introduction: "Pogge regards the global order as unjust on several levels. Most obviously, many trade treaties, tariffs, antidumping laws, agricultural subsidies, and intellectual property rights unfairly provide special advantages to wealthy and powerful countries which are already reaping unjust benefits from their violent role in a world history characterized by conquest, colonization, exploitation, and genocide." (p. 2-3)

Alison Jaggar in the Introduction: "Pogge argues that the citizens and governments of wealthy powerful countries have violated the uncontroversial and morally fundamental requirement not to cause severe harm to innocent people for minor gains. It is this culpability that constitutes the basic and incontrovertible ground of our responsibility to address global poverty." (p. 4) 

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Oct
01

Classifications of Knowledge

Looking to explore different epistemic and ontological vantage points? One option is Osman Bakar's "Classification of Knowledge in Islam - A Study in Islamic Philosophies of Science" published by the Islamic Texts Society in 1998 (first published by the Institute for Policy Research in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1992). The book examines classifications (different types; of knowledge, of knowledge seekers, of methodologies) based on the works of three classical scholars in the Islamic tradition.

In the Forward, by Seyyed Nasr, the hierarchical classification of knowledge is focal to Islamic ontology, asking: "How can an Islamic education system accept a situation in which there is no hierarchy between the knowledge of the angels and of molluscs or between the method of knowledge based upon reason wed to the external senses and knowledge which derives from the certitude (yaqin) derived from heart-knowledge?" (p. xiv) 

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