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4inquiries [userpic]

From German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism 1781-1801:

The Refutation of Idealism is positioned in the Critique as if it is an appendix to the Postulates of Empirical Thought. In the Postulates it is explained that an actual object need not be present to someone’s senses, but only in conformity with the form (unity and systematic interconnection) and matter (sensation) of experience. Even if we can’t perceive an object in practice, we may know it is actual by its casual, substantial, or reciprocal connection with representations we do have. For instance we may validly infer that there exists a certain magnet that is out of view on account of our seeing a certain organization of iron filings on a surface - we know the magnet is there.

It is at this point that Descartes’ argument comes in, challenging the validity of our inferences. Since any proposition believed by inference is uncertain, we can’t certainly infer that our framework for perceiving the world matches the way the world actually is, in itself. Kant’s Refutation is situated after the Postulates because it addresses this Cartesian objection. The strategy of the Refutation here is to show that Descartes conceives of our framework for experiencing the world as if it is the “magnet” of appearances, though our framework for experience cannot be analogous with something experienced in that framework. Thus Descartes argument is ultimately self-refuting, since he already accepts the principles by which we make sense of the world (e.g. causality, substance, reciprocity) when he applies them to the world in itself in order to create doubt about the validity of the way we make sense of the world.

4inquiries [userpic]

From “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense”:

“This peace treaty [the social contract quelling the war of all against all] brings in its wake something which appears to be the first step toward acquiring that puzzling truth drive: to wit, that which shall count as ‘truth’ from now on is established. That is to say, a uniformly valid and binding designation is invented for things” (2).

What is the status of unity, here? On one hand unity seems to be something that people invent as a convention by which they do politics and overcome antagonism, but on the other hand the imposing of unity on people seems to produce a new antagonism between those that are united (citizens) and those who don’t fit in the unity (criminals/discontents). So on one hand the idea of unity seems like a communist idea, radically inclusive and caring for everyone according to their needs, but on the other hand the idea of unity seems like an authoritarian idea, radically totalizing and granting exception to the ruling class. [For more, see Laclau’s On Populist Reason or Zizek’s contribution the Utopia issue of Umbr(a).]

Nietzsche’s references to the philosophy of science tell us that he isn’t just talking about social unity, but the unity of experience. On one hand unity seems to be something that the understanding invents as a convention by which it experiences and overcomes the incoherence of sensation, but on the other hand the imposing of unity on sensation seems to produce a new antagonism between the senses that fit the unity (objects of science) and those that don’t fit in the unity (illusions). [For more, we could return to Kant’s first Critique.]

Towards an ethical structuralism...Collapse )

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