Dasein, Red Elephant.

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Philosophy category.

Of Friendship and Objectivism

Best Friends are individuals who use each other at an accelerated frequency.

According to Russian-American philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand, Objectivism holds that Morality obsoletes as a pivot to Right or Wrong. Rather, it’s a effect of pursuing One’s own happiness in self-interest.
Simply put, the one and only Moral that Man can truly uphold is: Egoism.
How available then, one would ask, is Friendship from an Objectivist’s perspective?


If Friendship is measured in terms of self-achievement, a reciprocal Need or Use for both individuals must first be present. Consummation of the relationship, leading to actualization of one or both individuals, can only precede if Need or Use is maintained.


Philosophy 101


I’ve received gotten the audiobook for Philosophy, A very short introduction. BC magazine writes:

Craig’s approach is to explain the project of philosophy and to examine a few of the problems that philosophy has addressed. His definition of philosophy is delivered in a kind of parable. Imagine when human beings became conscious that sensory data could be interpreted through concrete symbols and ideas. An animal track means an animal has passed, which might be pursued as prey, or avoided. Human beings perceived and visualized events by indirect evidence and ideas, and then considered how human beings could act to influence events. Human beings became aware of forces of nature and events beyond human control. Human beings investigated nature, but encountered mysteries, and developed a sense of the supernatural. The project of understanding and explaining nature is science, and the project of recovering from the shock of mystery is philosophy.

I’ve tried listening to it and it seems pretty interesting. It’ll be worth a listen to just find out how on earth Craig condenses over 2000 years of philosophical thought in a little over 3 hours.

Download the audiobook here

Derrida’s Paradigm


Remarks on Deconstruction and Pragmatism

Jacques Derrida

First, I would like to say, even if this shocks certain amongst you and even if I myself took my head in my hands when Richard Rorty said that I was sentimental and that I believed in happiness, I think that he's right. This is something very complicated that I would like to come back to later, but I am very grateful to Richard Rorty for having dared to say something very close to my heart and which is essential to what I am trying to do. Even if it appears very provocative to say it and even if I began by protesting, I think that I was wrong. I am very sentimental and I believe in happiness; and I believe that this has an altogether determinant place in my work. There are so many rich and complex matters to which to respond and I cannot, in improvising, respond to all that has been said. I have the choice between several possibilities and I am going to choose the following: I am going to offer some introductory general remarks after which I will try to respond to some of the questions posed by Simon Critchley, Ernesto Laclau and Richard Rorty.

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Rorty on Deconstruction-Pragmatism


Remarks on Deconstruction and Pragmatism

Richard Rorty

Derrida is read, by conservative know-nothings in the United States and Britain, as a frivolous and cynical despiser of common sense and traditional democratic values. Many of my colleagues in the Anglophone philosophical community support this reading, and attempt to excommunicate Derrida from the philosophical profession.

Derrida is read by his fans in American departments of literature, on the other hand, as the philosopher who has transformed our notions of language and the self. They think of him as having demonstrated the truth of certain important propositions, propositions the recognition of which undermines our traditional ways of understanding ourselves, and understanding the books we read. They also take him to have given us a method-the deconstructive method-of reading texts: a method which helps us see what these texts are really about, what is really going on in them.

I find both these ways of reading Derrida equally dubious, and I shall discuss them in turn.

Continue reading this entry »

Deconstruction vs. Pragmatism


I've been reading Deconstruction and Pragmatism, a collection of essays by Chantal Mouffe, Richard Rorty, Jacques Derrida Ernest Laclau and Simon Critchley. This is an excellent book for several reasons, primarily because it examines the relationship that deconstructivist and pragmatist theories have on the foundations of rationalist democracy, a topic that I'm fascinated with. In many aspects, both Derrida and Rorty's work undermine the dominant rationalist approach that underlies most academic and political infrastructures.

Mouffe writes:

Derrida and Rorty are at one in refusing Habermas's claim that there exists a necessary link between universalism, rationalism and modern democracy and that constitutional democracy represents a moment in the unfolding of reason, linked to the emergence of universalist forms of law and morality. They both deny the availability of an Archimedean point-such as Reason-that could guarantee the possibility of a mode of argumentation that would have transcended its particular conditions of enunciation.

Nevertheless, their critique of rationalism and universalism does not prevent them being strongly committed to the defence of the political side of the Enlightenment, the democratic project. Their disagreement with Habermas is not political but theoretical. They share his engagement with democratic politics but they consider that democracy does not need philosophical foundations and that it is not through rational grounding that its institutions could be made secure.

The book suggests, through the critical contributions of each author in a roundtable symposium, that it is possible to theoretically develop and outline a non-foundationalist concept about the issue of democracy.

Rorty and Derrida have both very interesting and genial essays, both of which I haven't seen before on the internet. I'll put them up in the next few posts. 🙂

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Elephant Links: Malamud, Rorty and Po-mo

Superflat Monogram (detail), Takashi Murakami (2003)

Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, Malamud, who died in 1986, was part of a triumvirate of American Jewish writers who dominated the national literature in the 50's and 60's. Malamud won the Pulitzer Prize and two National Book Awards. In works like "The Assistant", "The Magic Barrel" and "The Fixer" he borrowed from myth and folklore and transformed the stories of ordinary Jewish lives into moral fables.

(tags: reviews)

An interesting post over at Posthegemony talks about Douglas Oliver's Diagram Poems. In a radio interview from 1999, Douglas Oliver commented on the separation between mainstream and experimental poetry: “If you write poetry from a different point of view, you run the risk of falling in the gutter."

(tags: blogs)

An January 2006 article by Rorty that was published in vol.3 of Kritikos, an international and interdisciplinary journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image. This short piece from Rorty is written in his usual, accesible style and is definetly worth a quick read.

(tags: theory)

A nice little page that clearly delineates the distinctions and differences between modernity and post modernism. This site is primarily dedicated towards socio-cultural dimension of postmodernism, through the theories of Baudrillard, Jameson, Benjamin and Lyotard.

(tags: theory)

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Barthelme and Porcupine Balloons


Donald Barthelme. In my opinion, the best short story writer ever. Every single one of his strange rendevous with prose should be made into a movie and played endlessly, looped through a projecter on the impassive face of brick wall of an abandoned building. Midnight to dawn. Let the zombies watch. Let them enjoy it while eating breakfast with careful fringe tucked behind their ears.

The epiphany was never done better, except in Bartheleme's stories. Words created through the terrific pride of a blind trapeze act. Stories develop from a whirlpool narrative that is hidden from view, centrifugal symptoms of which are perceived from the surreal incidents that occur. A long division from numbers that range to infinity and come up right in your face, in the form of a camera obscura or an exploding banana. He looks like my father, with that kind twinkle in his eye.

"Writing is a process of dealing with not-knowing, a forcing of what and how.... The not-knowing is crucial to art, is what permits art to be made. Without the scanning process engendered by not-knowing, without the possibility of having the mind move in unanticipated directions, there would be no invention.... The not-knowing is not simple, because it's hedged about with prohibitions, roads that may not be taken. The more serious the artist, the more problems he takes into account and the more considerations limit his possible initiatives."

--Barthelme, from the essay "Not-Knowing"

Don't even bother going to read his stories here.

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Elephant links: Adorno, Critical Theory, Born Mag

Dusk, the game of Croquet, Pierre Bonnard (1892)

Born Magazine is an experimental venue marrying literary arts and interactive media. Original projects are brought to life every three months through creative collaboration between writers and artists(tags: magazines art)

A prominent literary theorist, Fish is known for his analysis of interpretive communities — an offshoot of reader-response criticism. In this interview, he talks about the value of speech and rhetoric.(tags: theory)

A large collection of valuable links to thinkers such as Lacan, Lyotard, Marcuse, Merleau-Ponty, Said and Deleuze etc.(tags: theory)

I found this book a very difficult read. A work of theoretical brillance and the pinnacle of the Frankfurt School, Adorno offers the most complete exposition on onotological ideologies. Worth reading for his incredible analysis of Heidegger and Hegel.(tags: theory)

“Feminist theory needs to challenge that prevalent modern assumption on the autonomy of the economic which has been equally harmful for comprehending gender. Yet in this respect feminist theory has in Marx both a strong ally and a serious opponent.”(tags: theory)

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Habermas, Foucault and Nietzsche

1960s Picture of Habermas with students. Seems like a really heated discussion.
Sigh..why does this never happen in my classes?

redelephant: Was browsing through Habermasian Reflections, a pretty comprehensive blog on Jurgen Habermas's work when i came upon an article by Thomas Biebricher, which examines Habermas' interpretation of Foucault in the Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Biebricher argues that Habermas fundamentally misunderstands the Foucaultian project of genealogy. A fairly interesting read.

According to the thesis put forward here, Habermas fundamentally misunderstands Foucault's genealogical approach in projecting the methodological maxims of the latter's earlier archaeological approach onto his genealogical writing of history. Hence, Habermas misses the unique character of Foucault's ybrid approach that blends science and literature. The reason for this misreading, as I will suggest, is Habermas's misunderstanding of Foucault's reading of Nietzsche, which is ultimately rooted in Habermas's own interpretation of Nietzschean philosophy and the concept of genealogy in particular.

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