No self-respecting student of Continental philosophy can speak with any credibility unless they’ve studied the juggernaut of the 20th century Being & Time! I am about to set out on a journey but I may not return the same, if at all. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
Posts Tagged ‘logic’
(a classic from my heydays on IIDB, 6 years ago)
One day in heaven, the philosopher was walking with God, waxing philosophical.
God: Everything you ever wanted is here.
Philosopher: Everything? Do you mean the Truth, too?
God: Why, yes. If its true, its in the Book of the Truth.
Philosopher: What’s that?
God: Come follow me.
They walk towards the Official Library of Heaven, where all the books that have ever existed, or will exist, are located. In the center there’s a tall podium with the biggest book ever lying atop of it, and open. The golden letters are printed in type 6 font, new roman times style, on the finest paper.
God: Every single truth is in this book.
Philosopher: Indeed? All true sentences?
God: But of course. I am essentially omniscient and I also know this to be true. That’s also in there!
Philosopher: Au contraire, mon deux.
Philosopher: I can think of at least one true sentence that cannot be in there.
God: Surely thou jest!
Philosopher: Not at all, your eminence.
God: Alright, what is this sentence? I warn you it cannot be meaningless. I am wise to the art of sophistry!
The philosopher takes a piece of a paper and writes “This statement is not in the Book of Truth.” God’s eyes bulge, and He begins to stammer.
Philosopher: Is this sentence in there? If so the book contains a falsehood. If not, then the book does not have all true sentences. Therefore it is not the Book of Truth.
God: Oh, dear. I hadn’t thought of that. I should have never made that Cretean….
My initial thoughts about this distinction is that it centers around the role of rhetoric in language, and its relation to philosophy, or philosophical language. Typically, rhetoric is considered as the speech that acts on the emotions. This is what preachers, politicians are adroit at in order to manipulate emotions, and they develop a technique of persuasion.
Is philosophy rhetorical? If we predetermine philosophy as a rational process or theoretical thinking, a theoretical mode of thinking or speaking or writing, then it does not include rhetorical elements, for “emotions” are incongruent with the nature of rational thought. The old school philosophers like Kant disparage rhetoric as something that deludes and borrows from poetry just enough to win over people before they think about the subject.
However, perhaps the old school philosophers have been too hasty in their attempts to condemn rhetoric, for it may already possess a philosophical structure.
In order to claim to know something, one must be able to prove it. To prove is to show something to be something. And in order to do that is to use demonstrative speech, which establishes the definition of something by tracing it back to first principles. Now, these first principles themselves cannot be proved or be the object of demonstrative speech. Were it otherwise, they would not be the first principles. They are non-deducible. If these original principles cannot be demonstrable, then they cannot be characterized as rational or theoretical.
If the first principles themselves are non-deducible then they do not have an apodictic or demonstrative character. They are instead “indicative” or allusive, and that gives the rational speech the framework in order to function. Because rational speech is the process of clarification, then the original clarity of the first principles are not rational, for they “show.” Something that shows is figurative or imaginative, metaphorical, showing something that has a sense. The first principle is a speech that transfers a sense. Thus, indicative speech is structurally imaginative. We consider metaphor as the fundamental character of rhetorical speech, then all original or “archaic” speech are not rational but rhetorical speech. In other words, rhetoric is not just the art of persuasion, it is the speech that is fundamental for all rational language. Rhetoric comes before rational language.
We use original speech to indicate sense in first-hand experience, and that means the essence of speech is semantic: immediate, not deductive or demonstrative, illuminating and purely indicative. Rational language is dialectical, mediating and demonstrative, and lacks any pathetic character whatsoever. Original speech is fundamentally figurative, metaphorical, and ultimately, a pathetic essence.
Formally, the language of the sacred and religious world is original, immediate, and purely semantic, whereas the language of the rational and historical world is mediating, demonstrating, and apodictic.
This blog is an attempt at dialectical thinking with respect to Hinduism.
If Hinduism relies on the thesis that all sensory experiences are illusory, why doesn’t this affect the experience of “enlightenment,” where the realization that experiences are merely illusory? At least one experience should not be an illusion in order to determine that all other experiences are illusory.
The polemic forces the Hindu on either horns of a dilemma. Either the thesis of illusion is false or enlightenment is impossible – or the Hindu can admit that he is inconsistent. The only way to defeat the argument is to admit that the experience of enlightenment is itself not an experience. Regrettably that defeater is little more than ‘moving the goalposts…’ Of course the Hindu may assert that the only way is to “experience” it yourself. Then my experience is not necessarily illusory.
If all my experience are illusory then I cannot look forward to experiencing enlightenment on my own to determine that my experiences are illusory. By the by, dialectic operates on either/or reasoning, while other methods work differently (dialogic involves Both/And).