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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2009 edited
     (5365.1)
    Discussions of a philosophical nature come up from time to time on WC, and I've noted a number of us who have advanced degrees in philosophy or who have studied particular authors (Deleuze and Guattari for instance).

    I was in a Continental Philosophy* PhD program for five years and have a background in teaching professional, medical and computer/internet ethics as well as general Early Modern philosophy and French and German poststructuralism. I know there's a few others with similar backgrounds if you want to identify yourselves.

    Stuff we can talk about**:

    - Random philosophical questions
    - Post a line from a work and discuss
    - Philosophy wank from other threads (Say, topics brought up by BSG)
    - Stuff about graduate studies in philosophy (although I'm a bit out of date)


    -----
    * "Continental" philosophy in the U.S. is the European course of thought from Kant through Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger via Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, then proceeding on through existentialism and phenomenology to structuralism and poststructuralism (Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard), but also including Critical Theory on the German side (Adorno through Habermas).

    ** Idea shamelessly stolen from Looneynerd's "On History" thread
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      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2009
     (5365.2)
    I have nothing to add.

    There, I've said it.

    Discuss.
    • CommentAuthorMWHS
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2009
     (5365.3)
    @mister hex - 'Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent'?

    @Stygmata - I'm a first year undergraduate, but since my course is History and Philosophy I'll have to keep tabs on both threads now. Although I studied Philosophy at A level (16-18 years old here in Britain), I'm still at the 'study everything I can before deciding on a speciality' stage. If anything I lean towards the analytic and empiricist traditions though.
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2009
     (5365.4)
    @mister hex - nice demonstration of the principle of negation as the basis for perception, as first laid out in Hegel and later elaborated by Sartre. By adding nothing you have added something.

    @MWHS - always welcome. I was doing some readings in autopoeisis theory towards the end of my school career, ever hear of it?
    • CommentAuthorDarkest
    • CommentTimeMar 22nd 2009
     (5365.5)
    I'm nearing the end of a BA degree in Philosophy. In fact I'm in the libary right now finishing an essay for tommorow.

    Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Hegel and Wittgenstein are all very interesting.

    I wouldn't know what I am specifically any more. Study has sort of torn the house of knowledge down around me.
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      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2009
     (5365.6)
    my degree is in Cultural Theory - in the core first-year class we started with Walter Benjamin's "Art In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," and then did the Birmingham School right after (Stuart Hall, Richard Hoggart, Richard Williams). we talked a lot about Marx, obviously, and John Berger and Jean Baudrillard and Edward Said and a few other dudes were mentioned. that was how i started - i didn't hear about Hegel until third year, and we didn't have to read any Plato until fourth.
    before this i had had almost no notion of philosophy or cultural theory, other than a cursory overview of psychoanalysis that my high school English teacher squeezed in near the end of a semester. i come at it with an emphasis on art theory and aesthetics, because i can't stand politics and find art theory always engaging. and i write about music, so i read stuff like Jacques Attali's Noise when i hear about it. but i'm pretty much at a loss for which theorist said what and which school he belonged to -- Kant reads just like Hume reads just like Hegel to me right now; only Nietzsche sticks out because of his easily-digestable aphorisms.

    so what i'm doing now, in my spare time, is filling in the gaps -- i'm going non-chronologically, and hitting essentially anyone that strikes my fancy. there's a pile of books at my back that includes Wittgenstein (though i'm told the Tractacus is better than Phil.Inv.?) and Hegel and Rousseau and a linguistics textbok and Michel de Certeau and some Arthur Danto essays, and my to-buy list includes Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus, Schopenhauer's Art of Literature, and maybe John Ruskin's Modern Painters if i can luck into a cheap copy.
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2009
     (5365.7)
    @Darkest - Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are two of my favorites. Read Kierkegaard alongside Hegel if you can, it really does help.

    @allana - Some of my most interesting courses were in art history. Have you read The Painting of Modern Life?

    I'd love to get into some Deleuze later. I was considering posting the "Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life" preface Foucault wrote as a starter.
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2009
     (5365.8)
    I was never a big Nietzsche guy. He always seemed too much of a pessimist to be a good existentialist. But maybe that's just me...
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2009 edited
     (5365.9)
    @looneynerd -

    I think that is not always warranted. Nietzsche put great stock in cheerfulness - take for instance the preface to /Twilight of the Idols/, which was his best book after the /Genealogy of Morals/:
    Maintaining cheerfulness in the midst of a gloomy task, fraught with immeasurable responsibility, is no small feat; and yet what is needed more than cheerfulness? Nothing succeeds if prankishness has no part in it. Excess strength alone is the proof of strength. A revaluation of all values: this question mark, so black, so huge that it casts a shadow over the man who puts it down -- such a destiny of a task compels one to run into the sunlight at every opportunity to shake off a heavy, all-too-heavy seriousness. Every means is proper to do this; every "case" is a case of luck. Especially, war.
    • CommentAuthorRictus
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     (5365.10)
    Those who do need no philosophy.
  1.  (5365.11)
    I'm studying Communications and some of last year's subjects covered a lot of this stuff. I found I quite like Bourdieux but can't read Foucault, the man simply does not know when a sentence MUST END. Deep Thoughts are all very well but clarity counts for a lot!

    What do you professional philosophers think about Edward De Bono? I went through quite a Bono-fan phase a few years ago and got all these books out of my library - eventually I realised they were sort of ALL THE SAME, but that doesn't make his points less valid, it just means he needs to stfu and do new editions instead of new books :P
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      CommentAuthorvoyou
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     (5365.12)
    allana: Wittgenstein (though i'm told the Tractacus is better than Phil.Inv.?)

    They're very different, so it's hard to say which is better. The Tractatus is very short, and compressed to the point of being inscrutable. The first line is "The world is everything that is the case," which is a good example of the impressively poetic, almost mystical, quality of much of the book. It's beautiful in a jewel-like way, though incredibly difficult.

    The Philosophical Investigations, on the other hand, is more like an internal dialog; Wittgenstein runs through thought-experiments, imagines possible disagreements, explores digressions. It's more engaging and meditative than the Tractatus; it also probably has more to say about cultural issues, so if that's the angle you're coming from, you might get more out of the Investigations than the Tractatus (but read them both!).
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      CommentAuthoraike
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009 edited
     (5365.13)
    Many German philosophers, especially Heidegger and Wittgenstein, lose much of their elegance in translation. I haven't read Nietzsche in German, but I would also assume his work suffers quite a bit, too. All of them worked magic with incredible control of nuanced, fine and subtle differences in meaning. English simply can't do that to the same degree. I sometimes wonder how important that is to the philosophy, or if, as long as the ideas are discernible, it doesn't matter too much. Hard for me to say, because in almost all cases, I read the German version first, so when reading the translation, I superimposed my image of the German on top of it. I know that Freud's ideas suffered from poor translations and often still do.

    Probably the same is true for other languages, too, but none of my other language skills are good enough to attempt philosophy. Actually, that is a lie, I translated the Dao De Jing in my last year of undergrad... it was a disaster. But it helped me understand the Chinese version better. Maybe. I don't think I could translate a pre-school easy reader now, though.
    • CommentAuthorButoh
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     (5365.14)
    I envy you all. I didn't have the balls to take a philososphy major, and turned to Communication. Now i regret it a bit, and try to compensate through mysticism and the occult. Go, people, and philosophy!
    • CommentAuthorDarkest
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     (5365.15)
    I'd imagine the language would be quite important for Nietzsche given his sense of humour and use of word play. but still one of my favourite quotes from him aside from the classic about the abbyss is "I am not a man. I am Dynamite!" that never ceases to amuse me.

    I should really be doing a philosophy of language essay now.
    • CommentAuthorRedwynd
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     (5365.16)
    Just a quick question for the philosophy buffs: having grown up in a semi-rural area whose residents seemed to prize the ability to consume near-fatal amounts of alcohol without (sadly) dying, I long since became fascinated with the idea of eugenics. Any pointers on where to start reading?
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     (5365.17)
    @Redwynd:

    I would start with Peter Singer. He is a thorough utilitarian who advocates a variety of controversial positions, from animal rights to what some interpret as support for active euthanasia. If you start with Singer and then read a variety of reactions to Singer's work, you will get a pretty broad overview of positions.
    • CommentAuthorRedwynd
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     (5365.18)
    @Stygmata

    Thanks, I'll make a note of him. Though I have to admit, I do tend to fall more into the "active euthanasia" camp than any other, though I've often thought that it may be more simply a rejection of the legal and moral egalitarianism that currently holds sway. Or perhaps disgust that the natural laws (competition for scarce resources and survival of the fittest) have been completely removed from the human condition.

    Disclaimer, as it usually comes up at this point in any discussion: I am not racist. I have simply come to the conclusion that there is a very, very large number of extraneous people around, whose sole role is to consume vast quantities of resources to no productive end.
    • CommentAuthorG. Foyle
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009 edited
     (5365.19)
    Just a brief chiming in on the issue raised about clarity in writing. (I'm a long way removed from my Foucault/Debord/Adorno/etc. kick, so probably won't be able to keep up with the conversation.)

    But I do remember complaining to someone about trying for hours to get past the first twenty or so pages of 'Of Grammatology.' He noted that sometimes obtuseness (for lack of [the will to come up with] a better word), by forcing the reader to think through the ideas presented, can be a good means for a writer to engage his audience. Of course, sometimes obtuseness is just bad writing/translation, but I always thought that was kind of an interesting take on the issue.

    (In the end, I think I preferred Adorno and even Debord, who tend to write very simply, at least in translation, to Derrida. Mythologies and Society of the Spectacle for the win. But then again, I'm kinda lazy.)

    [Edited because I didn't finish my last sentence.]
    • CommentAuthoroga
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     (5365.20)
    My MA English was dominated by literary theory and poetics. I loved Wittgenstein, Deleuze, not so much Derrida, Lacan, Freud, but I loved Barthes for some reason at the time, now I'm pretty much meh about theorists/philosophers.

    I think I can pin it down to whether or not they are writing from their heart (Nietszche) or from their mind (Derrida) or a mix of both (Virillo/Delanda).

    My feeling is that if you can't discuss your ideas simply, poetically, and without citing every mother and their bastard sons while you're at it, then rather than let your work descend into a string of buzzwords and name-dropping, then don't bother.

    Having said that, I don't have the patience or attention span for it anymore. There's something about having oodles of spare time at university that facilitates reading dense, impenetrable work and getting off on it.