Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Philosopher’s Carnival, No. Forty-Nine

The 49th Philosopher’s Carnival, or ‘All Philosophy is a footnote to Plato (and Aristotle)’, is presently being hosted at Tales of Modernity.

Rorty is Dead II

Ramin Jahanbegloo, who made an appearance in these parts last year when he was arrested and imprisoned in Iran, has written an obito-analysis of Richard Rorty.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Is John Howard an Enlightened Man?

"In our rich and beautiful country, there are children living out a Hobbesian nightmare of violence, abuse and neglect. Many are in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. To recognise this is not racist. It's simply an empirical fact."
John Howard

Then there was his own description of himself as a Voltairian.

Are we all detecting a little Condorcet in Howard's solution to a "Hobbesian nightmare"?

White House or Ivory Tower? Have your say.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rorty Is Dead

‘Alas, I have come down with the same disease that killed Derrida.’

Considerable American philosopher Richard Rorty died on the 8th of June (of pancreatic cancer).

Jürgen Habermas provides a personal obituary, while Roger Scrutton is critical and the New York Times is biographical. (Arts and Letters Daily is listing other obituaries.)

Politics At The Pub – Iraq Folly

This month’s Politics at the Pub will see Rod Barton and Arthur Chesterfield-Evans discussing Iraq. (I’ve heard Chesterfield-Evans a couple of times recently, and he often has interesting things to say).

The Hamilton Station Hotel, Tuesday 19th of June at 6.30 pm.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

'Sex as Communication' defintion

I was attempting to try and make the ‘sex as communication’ theory fly by i) removing the prescriptive element, and making it more a definition rather than a line drawn in the sand, ii) treating these communicative instants as Austinian performatives, as is my obsession these days, and iii) introducing greater ‘social fields’ ala Wittgenstein or even Foucault, to account for the apparent inability to account for solo masturbatory acts or their ever looming ‘aid’ porn. Then it dawned on me that Williams, who I must admit I have a kind of soft spot for, as one of those often neglected but progressive for his style of philosophy philosophers (but maybe that’s just one of my hang ups from undergrad shinning through), didn’t comment on masturbation or pornography because he wouldn’t, by the ‘sex as communication’ analogy, consider such acts as sex. Sexual in nature yes, but not sex. So simple yet it eluded me, the greatest genius ever to have lived ever in the history of man which is of course all that is history, and the author of the Philosopher’s Carnival submission on this subject, who postulated that one of the failures of this method of reasoning about sex is that it fails to account for masturbation or pornography.

I give as an example: if someone has a partner, and they masturbate while being monogamous with that partner, have they cheated? The obvious answer is no. This seems to fly in the face of ‘pornography addiction’ which is perceived as one of the ‘plagues’ afflicting social morality bay many commentators far more widely read than myself.

The thing is that otherwise, my endeavour to expand the theory has been somewhat fruit-full as it is kind of stating the obvious, in keeping with our much beloved Bertie: “The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.” The over analysis only seems to strengthen its cause.

But isn’t pornography communicative I hear you ask? Yes but not as a conversation. It functions communicatively as any novel, movie, image, etc. It follows the same rules as any aesthetic production, and as such this is a moot point.

Personally I find sex far more interesting than religion (as did Lord Bertrand I might add), so what are your thoughts on the ‘sex as communication’ definition? I might even be arsed writing it up in its expanded form.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On the Scriptural Jesus

This shall be a brief note, following on from a comment earlier made. It needs must be proceeded by acknowledging I am neither a theologian nor a biblical scholar.

The genesis of this idea was a discussion of whether an individual today could know anything about Jesus. (To avoid an obvious complexity, it is assumed that there was a single actual individual whose variation of Judaism is the origin of Christianity). It seemed an obvious retort to base any claims about this Jesus on the Christian Scriptures. As such, the claim would take the form ‘I know x about the Scriptural Jesus’ (for, ‘I know that Scriptural Jesus regularly employed metaphor’).

A problem with this stratagem (for want of a better word) is that it seems difficult to actually construct a ‘Scriptural Jesus’. Reliant on the accepted Gospels – those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – it could be argued that there are at least four different ‘Scriptural Jesuses’. How so? Each of the ‘authors’ (whose existence and nature are currently contested issues) creates a different Jesus in their text. I am, at this point, going to have to reach for authority. I first recall encountering the idea that the Gospel authors presented different ‘aspects’ of Jesus in Studies of Religion nearly a decade ago, and have since discussed the idea with a couple of theologians who have accepted it. It’s theological basis is that, on consideration of the Gospel texts, there are differences between the Jesuses in terms of their teaching styles and, where comparison is possible, their actions. It does not seem too great a step from a claim that Mark presents different aspects of Jesus to John (and I would like to be able to make evidential reference to the texts, but I do not have them at hand) to a claim that they actually present different Jesuses. This takes the 'character' presented in the Gospel as a Jesus distinct from the Jesus character protrayed in the others. It is akin to a step that classicists seem willing to make in regard to Plato, where there is an accepted distinction between the early Platonic Socrates and the later Platonic Socrates. It is also akin to the acknowledgement that the Socreates of Plato is different to that of Xenophon.

At its crux, the problem is one of reconciling the differences between the accounts contained in the Gospel. As there are differences, to claim a Scriptural Jesus would require a reconciliation, which in turn would require a justification of the decisions made. As such it may be safer to make claims in regard to the Jesus portrayed in the different texts (returning to the example, ‘Mark’s Jesus regularly employed metaphor’).

As a brief post script, it should be acknowledged that, if there are four different Scriptural Jesuses, then there are more as each Gospel not included in the Christian Scriptures contains a different Jesus.

Philosopher’s Carnival, No. Forty-Eight

The 48th Philosopher’s Carnival presently being hosted at Common Sense Philosophy.

Friday, June 01, 2007

On Insanity

'"Insane person" - Any person who shall for the time being be idiotic lunatic or of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself or his affairs and whether found insane by inquisition or otherwise' - An Act to Consolidate and Amend the Law Relating to the Insane 1879 (NSW) s 3.