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#307049 - 02/15/08 03:59 PM Re: Instant Messangers [Re: Maqlu]
RandomStranger Offline
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Registered: 03/09/05
Posts: 2770
Loc: Here.
Or send a text message to your cell phone ;\)

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#307056 - 02/15/08 04:17 PM Re: Instant Messangers [Re: RandomStranger]
Maqlu Offline
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Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 1673
That too, though it runs the risk of my having forgotten to turn the damn thing on that day. ;\)

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#307057 - 02/15/08 04:35 PM Re: Pretentiousness? [Re: phoenixrisen]
Valek Offline
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Registered: 06/20/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: Non-local
In addition to what else has been said here, this guy obviously has never read Number 1 ;\)
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#307075 - 02/15/08 06:06 PM Poststructuralism [Re: TrojZyr]
reprobate Offline

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Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 7140
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
weren't without their flaws

The alleged flaws of poststructuralism have been exaggerated by people who don't understand their project, or who had dogmatic agendas of their own. Many of the ideas that have allegedly been "debunked" have not been at all. In fact, some of the alleged debunkings or challenges have themselves been misunderstood (eg., the Sokal hoax was meant to target what I've called the "cottage industry", NOT the Heavies themselves).

Serious criticism of the methods or conclusions of poststructuralists, as with any philosophers or scientists, should follow only from a thorough knowledge and understanding of their works. It should NOT be based on a frustration with their self-appointed followers, who often seriously distort what the Heavies are actually about. The muck, the boulchite, is usually more a result of overzealous worshipers than it is of the Heavies themselves. I have a deep respect for the work of the Heavies, when it's put in its proper historical and intellectual context.

I'm not saying everyone should drop everything and become a poststructuralist. But it is worth noting that the most influential character in the history of that movement, Michel Foucault, is on the Church of Satan's nonfiction reading list. (In fact, an unabridged translation of the work on that list came out for the first time in '06.) Foucault is an excellent example of a researcher who consistently sought a "third side" in any area he studied, whether it be psychiatry, prison reform, the history of science, sexuality, etc. etc.

Another poststructuralist I've found personally inspiring is Gilles Deleuze, who sought the deep philosophical implications of atheism on logic, ontology, and ethics. He paints a portrait of the world as one characterized by fragmentation, distortion, perversion, and demonic influence. Deleuze and Foucault were also good friends.

For a long time I was unsure of Derrida, mostly because I just can't read him. (Maybe it's because he's not strictly a poststructuralist. I find there's a weird cleave among students of pomo: people who can read Deleuze tend not to be able to read Derrida, and vice versa. Not sure why that is.) I have friends who are very enthusiastic about Derrida, and who have explained some of the basic ideas of deconstruction to me in a way that I could understand and found very reasonable.

 Quote:
Incidentally, what's the difference between Po-Struc and PoMo? I tend to use both interchangeably.

To listen how they get slung around in the cottage industry, not much. In historical context:

Poststructuralists were a movement of French philosophers who were actively engaged, from the '60s through to the '90s, in reconstructing basic concepts of social thought in France. Their thought followed along lines that had originally been set out by an earlier movement called structuralism, which had mostly been the project of the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. The poststructuralists wanted to apply some of the concepts of anthropology, originally developed to study primitive societies, to the history and sociology of contemporary industrialized societies; in the course of doing so they were forced to adapt those concepts, which opened new vistas for an understanding of both modern societies and primitive ones, and the relationship between them. In doing so, they were brought into direct conflict with the old guard of Marxists, since poststructuralism is fundamentally a different kind of analysis from Marxist economic critique, and reached different conclusions about the past, the present, and the future of modern industrial societies. The poststructuralist project spread as they applied their critical concepts beyond the domain of mere sociology to history, economics, psychology, then to ethics and even metaphysics.

Note that "poststructuralist" is a name that was applied to them, not a term they applied to themselves. They didn't call themselves anything.

"Postmodernism" is a broader and fuzzier term for a group of movements that are engaged in a general critique of the notions that we have received that our tradition regards as constituting its "modern" character (especially the Enlightenment ideal of finding our emancipation through achievements of reason and science). Postmodernism includes poststructuralism, but includes other movements as well. Poststructuralism critiqued modernism through a creative revision of structuralism; others (eg. Derrida) use other means.

It's harder to say where "postmodernism" begins, but Heidegger and Nietzsche are two oft-invoked starting points. Nietzsche was a big influence on the poststructuralists (most philosophy at that time was Hegelian, and Nietzsche is THE anti-Hegelian par excellence); Heidegger was an influence on the deconstruction tradition.

A lot of postmodernists today are drawn to it because of New Left politics. However a lot of anti-postmodernist Leftists accuse it of being deeply susceptible to reactionism, since it ostensibly denies that we can find emancipation through reason and thus seems to accommodate a kind of irrationalist adherence to authority. (Considering the debts to Heidegger and Nietzsche, and also to Paul de Man, this is at least a plausible charge prima facie.) Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, et al., all the major postmodernist or poststructuralist thinkers identified as politically Left, but what this actually meant for them is not necessarily always what their followers try to make it out to mean.


Edited by reprobate (02/15/08 06:30 PM)
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#307080 - 02/15/08 06:36 PM Re: There! [Re: Scion]
phoenixrisen Offline


Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 176
Loc: Manchester, England
 Originally Posted By: Scion
Phoenixrisen - I'd toss that one on the rubbish pile if I were you.


I certainly have done. I did so as soon as he abruptly ended the conversation (which was due to my 'ineptness', it would seem )
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#307090 - 02/15/08 07:22 PM Re: There! [Re: reprobate]
TrojZyr Offline
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Registered: 07/25/01
Posts: 12990
Loc: The Solid State
Thanks!

Strangely, I've never heard of Deleuze before.

A specific debunking/challenge that I recall off the top of my head was in "The Killing of History" by Keith Windschuttle. Windschuttle challenges Foucault's apparently rosy view of the "Ship of Fools" and how the mentally ill were treated during the Middle Ages, versus later on. He even says Foucault gets his dates wrong.

Well, and all those heavies didn't yet have certain tools at their disposal that we have now, like evolutionary psych, cognitive psych, and sociobiology, among other things. But, they couldn't help that, and it's more the fault of the "cottage industry" for hanging on.

If post-structuralism was at odds with Marxism, why do so many of the people who seem to be post-structuralist also seem to have Marxist leanings? Or is that more the PoMos? Or did somebody fudge something somewhere?

New Left! That's a term I've been looking for.

What do you mean, exactly, considering the debts to Heidigger, de Man, and Nietzsche? Who is the authority to be obeyed?

Could there ever be a right-wing PoMo?

Why do these nitwits ignore all the cool parts of Nietzsche? I've heard them give lip service to him, but I suppose because they're leftists, I've never heard them say a peep about the will to power, or ubermenschen, or untermenschen, or how ubermenschen transcend good and evil. How do they get away with that one?

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#307097 - 02/15/08 07:45 PM Re: There! [Re: TrojZyr]
reprobate Offline

CoS Warlock

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 7140
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Keith Windschuttle

I don't know him. I'll put it on my list.

 Quote:
Well, and all those heavies didn't yet have certain tools at their disposal that we have now, like evolutionary psych, cognitive psych, and sociobiology, among other things. But, they couldn't help that, and it's more the fault of the "cottage industry" for hanging on.

What about those sciences is relevant to the interests and focus of the poststructuralists? Why is it a shortcoming that they don't have those things to draw on?

 Quote:
If post-structuralism was at odds with Marxism, why do so many of the people who seem to be post-structuralist also seem to have Marxist leanings? Or is that more the PoMos? Or did somebody fudge something somewhere?

The poststructuralists had socialist leanings. Some had been involved in Marxist organizations, for political reasons. They were keenly interested in progressive, anarchistic social revolution. But their concepts and analyses weren't compatible with Marxism properly speaking.

Poststructuralist critiques of state power tended to be a lot more ambiguous, and tended to focus on how power is applied (and justified, and accommodated, or resisted) at the level of the individual - based on his classification as "abnormal", for example. This led to a very different picture from Marxism's class-based theory.

 Quote:
What do you mean, exactly, considering the debts to Heidigger, de Man, and Nietzsche? Who is the authority to be obeyed?

Could there ever be a right-wing PoMo?

Heidegger was a Nazi. De Man was a collaborationist. Nietzsche's attitude to politics is profoundly ambiguous and ironic, but he sure was no straightforward New Left champion, and he had been used as a poster child by the Nazis. Of course, there is a LOT more to these thinkers than their politics, but some critics of postmodernism say that the influence of these thinkers threatens to corrupt postmodernism with a contempt for individual freedom of critical thought. I think this view of postmodernism is deeply wrong, but anyway that's the view.

 Quote:
Why do these nitwits ignore all the cool parts of Nietzsche? I've heard them give lip service to him, but I suppose because they're leftists, I've never heard them say a peep about the will to power, or ubermenschen, or untermenschen, or how ubermenschen transcend good and evil. How do they get away with that one?

Two reasons. First, they're politically distasteful, so people just kind of sweep them under the rug.

Second, when you get right down to it, there's not a whole lot interesting to say about those concepts. How can you apply them critically to real world issues? What's their practical upshot? They were Nietzsche's thing, and provocative, but what can you DO with them?

On the other hand, his metaphysical and historical critiques ARE something you can apply critically and fruitfully to current circumstances.

(Deleuze does take Nietzsche's concept of "beyond good and evil" seriously as an ethic.)
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#307105 - 02/15/08 08:29 PM Re: There! [Re: Scion]
Valek Offline
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Registered: 06/20/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: Non-local
Well, that guy also fits the profile of a braggart know-it-all, too.

Definitely one to avoid. Calling someone's lack of knowledge on a subject a weakness is just a know-it-all's way of saying "Ha, I knew it! I'm better than you!"
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#307110 - 02/15/08 08:47 PM Re: There! [Re: Valek]
AurEum Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 11/16/07
Posts: 1158
Loc: Australia
I agree. It's interesting (pathetic too) how those who brag and posture are often the least knowledgeable and the most insecure. I work with someone who swears he knows everything, how ridiculous (I wish I had the luxury of blocking him in person, as can be done through instant messaging programs).
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#307157 - 02/15/08 10:48 PM Re: There! [Re: reprobate]
TrojZyr Offline
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Registered: 07/25/01
Posts: 12990
Loc: The Solid State
 Originally Posted By: reprobate

What about those sciences is relevant to the interests and focus of the poststructuralists? Why is it a shortcoming that they don't have those things to draw on?


Like I said, it's not really their (the "heavies'") fault. But, I think we've gained greater insight into human nature and human history since then. For example, we've come a long way from Freud and Lacan, even though they did have some good ideas and some theories that certainly had potential.

 Quote:
Poststructuralist critiques of state power tended to be a lot more ambiguous, and tended to focus on how power is applied (and justified, and accommodated, or resisted) at the level of the individual - based on his classification as "abnormal", for example. This led to a very different picture from Marxism's class-based theory.


That potentially sounds interesting, though.

 Quote:
a contempt for individual freedom of critical thought.


If you ask me, there already is contempt for it among a lot of them, because they are so willing to file people into piles of "rich white European male oppressors" and "poor ragdoll underdogs." It's just a very sweet and pity-soaked contempt.

That's coming in from a different angle, though, and I see what you mean.

Thanks for educating me. I've heard a lot of the general surface facts and rhetoric, but not the deeper or more detailed stuff.
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#307164 - 02/15/08 11:07 PM Re: There! [Re: TrojZyr]
reprobate Offline

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Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 7140
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Like I said, it's not really their (the "heavies'") fault. But, I think we've gained greater insight into human nature and human history since then. For example, we've come a long way from Freud and Lacan, even though they did have some good ideas and some theories that certainly had potential.

Well, now hold on a sec, here.

First, let's distinguish between the particular theories of Freud, and the basic framework of scientific inquiry within which those theories were proposed and discussed. The particular theories can be wrong without the overall theoretical framework being wrong, and without the field's methods or focus being wrong. We don't believe in phlogiston anymore, but that didn't make physics wrong. Likewise, we can say that we don't believe in penis envy or the Oedipus complex anymore, but that doesn't make psychoanalysis wrong.

Look and see HOW the poststructuralists - the REAL ones, I mean (or even Lacan, for that matter) - actually draw on psychoanalysis. It's fruitful and interesting.

The FOCUS of psychoanalysis is simply DIFFERENT from that of physiological or evolutionary psychology. Psychoanalysis is concerned with understanding personality, identity, and expression on their own terms, and in relation to subconscious drives. It's a theory of meaning.

Other sciences study these things only insofar as they are expressions of biological traits or tendencies.

That already presupposes insight into what personality and identity involve in the first place - in other words, you can't have a very robust or interesting neuro-psychological description of personality if you don't have a sophisticated notion of personality and meaning in the first place.

So I'm skeptical of the idea that the sciences you mention can give us a better understanding of "human nature" by side-stepping psychoanalysis.

The focus of those sciences is also not directly relevant to the study of the history and present circumstances of our society and its culture insofar as that is related to everyday problems of personality and identity and expression. That's what interested the poststructuralists, so biological psychology didn't have anything to offer them, really. Psychoanalysis, however, did. (So did Marxism, insofar as it contained the insight that the terms of an individual's construction of personal identity is conditioned by his political and economic circumstances. This was a part of Marxism that poststructuralism kept.)

If you want to see examples of modern day Freudian applications, look at that Gilles Deleuze stuff I mentioned. Or just look at Camille Paglia. She's a dyed in the wool psychoanalytic thinker. One of her favorite comebacks against the old feminist establishment was that they didn't know their Freud! Psychoanalysis is also a very important part of how Anton LaVey conceived of Satanism.

 Quote:
 Quote:
a contempt for individual freedom of critical thought.

If you ask me, there already is contempt for it among a lot of them, because they are so willing to file people into piles of "rich white European male oppressors" and "poor ragdoll underdogs." It's just a very sweet and pity-soaked contempt.

*coughcoughCOTTAGEINDUSTRYcoughcough*

Read the Heavyweights!!


Edited by reprobate (02/15/08 11:29 PM)
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#307221 - 02/16/08 04:13 AM Re: There! [Re: reprobate]
Starless Pixie Offline


Registered: 11/27/07
Posts: 63
Loc: Missouri
On bullshitting- my husband is a bullshit artist. The only benefit to this I can think of convincing someone to buy something. This can easily come back to the company and bite them in the ass by the same token;though, as the customer will get home and say, " Hey, I thought they said so-and-such product would benefit me by this-and-that... this thing sucks!" and then would lose customer base.

My supervisor at work swears by the theory that a sale made is money earned regardless, but I look at the long haul. I'd rather pull a bad product off the shelf and lose a little short-term revenue than piss off a loyal customer and make them go to the next closest store.

Alrighty back to topic at hand... I know nothing about post-structuralism. I haven't gotten my morning coffee yet as well so I'm not going to attempt to read up on it at the moment just to reply. It's by this same token that I'm not going to be voting in the upcoming presidential election. I simply do not know enough about the delegates to make an informed decision as to who should be in the oval office.

I know a lot of people are going to say " OMG you don't vote? You're not American!" I don't really care though, seeing how I'm sure the people that actually matter would rather me not vote than vote in some idiot.

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#307269 - 02/16/08 07:52 AM Re: There! [Re: reprobate]
Auge Offline


Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 163
Loc: Germany
TrojZyr, reprobate, I applaud you both, you've made my day!

On a side-note and with no intent to disrupt your conversation: I am planning on reading Adorno and Horkheimer soon. Some things you've said about Po-Struc and PoMo reminded me of things I read about Adorno and Horheimer. Do these two fit in this post-struc way of thinking, or do you think they're an entirely different matter?
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#307274 - 02/16/08 08:37 AM Re: There! [Re: Auge]
reprobate Offline

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Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 7140
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Do these two fit in this post-struc way of thinking, or do you think they're an entirely different matter?

They're a different thing, a little earlier in time than the poststructuralists. Poststructuralism was a specifically French thing. Adorno and Horkheimer (also Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Leo Löwenthal, and later Jürgen Habermas) were part of something called the Frankfurt School (which fled to New York shortly after Hitler came to power). Their heirs today call their own tradition "Critical theory", with a capital C.

They were part of the same tendency, in the mid-20th cent., to shift intellectual focus away from labor and class politics, and on to the broader problem of cultural expression and cultural history. Their greatest concern was the alienation of the individual via the industrialization of mass consumer culture. They were much more enthusiastic about Marx than the poststructuralists were, but were also interested in Weber's sociology as well. Their overall project was an attempt to unite Marx's theory of social alienation, Weber's interpretive methods for analyzing state and bureaucratic organization, Freud's theories of expression and identity, and Kant's critical moral theory of respect for persons. They were also deeply interested in Modernist art (Adorno wrote volumes on atonal music) as a reaction against mass consumerism.

Later, Habermas made an effort to shift Critical thinking away from Marx, on the grounds that the underlying economic theory was outdated, and put a greater stress on Weber. Habermas is probably the single most influential living social philosopher, and commands respect from thinkers across the political spectrum in both Europe and the English-speaking world.

In North America, poststructuralism, postmodernism, and Critical theory (along with a couple of other movements, including phenomenological hermeneutics) all trade under the umbrella term "Continental philosophy".

Personally, I don't get much out of Critical theory. I'm not so deeply sympathetic to the details of Marxism, nor to the details of Kant's moral theory. Their attitude tends to be too sour for my tastes, and their views on art are old-fashioned.

Hope this helps! Happy reading!
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#307294 - 02/16/08 10:41 AM Re: There! [Re: reprobate]
TrojZyr Offline
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Registered: 07/25/01
Posts: 12990
Loc: The Solid State
Oh, I wasn't saying psychoanalysis ought to be sidestepped. "Civilization and its Discontents" is pretty insightful. The idea of the ego, the id, and the superego can be useful. Certainly, the idea that people are fueled by urges that they then often try to suppress using various methods likely won't ever go out of vogue completely. While the idea of the "mirror stage" (Lacan) isn't a total picture of what goes on in a child's mind, it is at least a nice starting point, as are concepts of "the Other" (that is also Lacan, right?).

But, don't listen to Freud about women, and don't necessarily listen to him completely (or his daughter) on how to resolve crises, since they'll sometimes prescribe, as I understand it, even more repression, but this time through self-analysis and intellectualizing. Lycanthropic transformation, I gather, would not have been on their menu of prescribed treatments. The Freuds were very brainy people, so I think they often overlooked and disdained emotional or full-on cathartic treatments for problems.

I just see our understanding of human being--in this case, let's just focus on psychology--as being represented by a building that continuously has new stories and rooms added onto it. Freud is on the first floor, and you do need a first floor. But, there are other stories and rooms to explore and use, because they contain Jung, Reich, Adler, Horney, Bandura, Skinner, Zimbardo, and countless others. Not all of the rooms are created equal, but each one has at least some kind of a use or a purpose. Some of the rooms jut out of the building like jenga blocks about to fall, because they involve very new ideas and concepts, and others fit snuggly above the floors beneath them, because they're building precisely on the previous floors, and a lot of rooms are somewhere in between.

I liken it to study of evolution. Darwin is vital. But, since then, we've had Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould. You don't junk Darwin, but you don't cling to him, either.

But, I do need to read more of the heavyweights, because a lot of my perceptions and interpretations have been tainted by the cottage industry. It is curious how I've had teachers who cited these guys, but they gave us very little of them to read. I sometimes had to go and read excerpts so that I could continue to follow along, but you're definitely lightyears ahead of me. Most of what I know about anyone besides Mill, Kant, and Nietzsche is strictly second or even third-hand. (And I still don't think I could give you a full run-down of any of those on cue without a refresher course.)

Ah! Critical theory! As Penn and Teller have said, "and then there's these assholes..." They like to futz around with literature and art, right? Or at least, their acolytes do?

By modernist art, you mean the people who paint canvases white and then suspend eggs from dental floss while playing backwards recordings of "Old Man River," right? I love that stuff. I don't know if I consider it real or respectable art, but I love it ;\) .

I did not know they were all called "continental philosophy." I've always struggled for a way to refer to all three at once; the better to bash them all at once, my dear. (Although, no idea of what phenomenological hermeneutics is, so maybe I don't want to bash it until I know what it entails.)

_________________________
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"The strong rule the weak, and the cunning rule over all." HS!

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