Tag Archives | Philosophy

Slavoj Zizek: The Media’s Problem With Philosophy

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Increasingly, intelligence is only tolerated in pre-approved and reassuringly non-challenging forms – deprecatory humor (Stephen Fry), decaffeinated reasoning (Alain de Botton), or suspiciously grand narratives (Simon Schama). Žižek himself is constantly pigeonholed by such media clichés as ‘the Elvis of cultural theory’ and ‘the Marx Brother’. This event sets out to question ‘what can be done?’ by serious thought in a culture of sound bites. Is the best that media philosophers can hope for to ‘Try again, fail again, fail better’?

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The Disease of Reflexive Cynicism

Jef Safi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Jef Safi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Fuller Pendleton writing at This Civilization in Ruins:

Reflexive thinking seems to pervade the landscape.  The causes are unclear, but its existence is undeniable.  We jump to conclusions, we utilize stereotypes, and all other manner of mental shorthand in order to come to decisions about people, things, and potential courses of action.  With more information than what can be reasonably processed in the amount of time we have to make many decisions, we have to use mental processes to sort between what is noise and what is a signal, pointing us towards a correct path.

When mental shortcuts used to evaluate the motivations and intentions of others tend in one person to cause them to be taken advantage of due to what is perceived to be their innocence or inability/unwillingness to question much of the motivations of others, we call that person “naïve.”  We evaluate it to be a kind of intellectual immaturity to trust the benevolent intentions of others, or to overestimate our own ability to proceed along a path we’ve set upon. 

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Slavoj Žižek: The Courage of Hopelessness

Andrew McCoubrey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Andrew McCoubrey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Slavoj Žižek writes at the New Statesman:

The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that “thought is the courage of hopelessness” – an insight which is especially pertinent for our historical moment when even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us thinking to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction. There is no better example of the need for such courage than Greece today.

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Experiences of Depression: A Study in Phenomenology

Ross (CC by-nc-nd 2.0)

Ross (CC by-nc-nd 2.0)

Reviewed by Katherine Withy, via Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews:

This volume collects Matthew Ratcliffe’s work from the last five years on depression and existential feeling, offering a rich and compelling phenomenological interpretation of the variety and unity of experiences of depression. Ratcliffe’s interpretation is informed by and in dialogue with not only historical and contemporary phenomenology, but also philosophy of mind and philosophy of emotion, as well as psychiatry and psychology. The book is an important contribution to phenomenology in general and to the phenomenology of mood disorder in particular, and it provides those who suffer from depression — as well as those who care for them — a powerful new way to understand and express their experiences.

The primary challenge facing a phenomenology of depression is that depressive experiences are hard to describe adequately — and any description that a sufferer does produce seems to lend itself to being misunderstood.

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Stephen Buhner — Reductionism and the Reclamation of Personal Experience, Free Radical Media Podcast

You can also listen to this and all other Free Radical Media podcasts via Itunes.

In this installment, herbalist, author, and earth poet Stephen Buhner joins us to discuss the current reductionist paradigm permeating mainstream culture, and the potential of reclaiming individual thought through following innate curiosity. From his bio at The Foundation for Gaian Studies:

Stephen Harrod Buhner is an Earth poet and the award-winning author of twenty books on nature, indigenous cultures, the environment, and herbal medicine. He comes from a long line of healers including Leroy Burney, Surgeon General of the United States under Eisenhower and Kennedy, and Elizabeth Lusterheide, a midwife and herbalist who worked in rural Indiana in the early nineteenth century. The greatest influence on his work, however, has been his great-grandfather C.G. Harrod who primarily used botanical medicines, also in rural Indiana, when he began his work as a physician in 1911… He is a tireless advocate for the reincorporation of the exploratory artist, independent scholar, amateur naturalist, and citizen scientist in American society – especially as a counterweight to the influence of corporate science and technology.

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Anarcho-“Capitalism” is Impossible

Flag used by the Swedish AnarkoKapitalistisk Front.

Flag used by the Swedish AnarkoKapitalistisk Front.

Anna Morgenstern writes at the Center for a Stateless Society:

Many anarchists of various stripes have made the claim that anarcho-capitalists aren’t really anarchists because anarchism entails anti-capitalism. I happen to think this is actually backwards. If they genuinely wish to eliminate the state, they are anarchists, but they aren’t really capitalists, no matter how much they want to claim they are.

People calling themselves “anarcho-capitalists” usually want to define “capitalism” as the same thing as a free market, and “socialism” as state intervention against such. But what then is a free market? If you mean simply all voluntary transactions that occur without state interference, then it’s a circular and redundant definition.  In that case, all anarchists are “anarcho-capitalists”, even the most die-hard anarcho-syndicalist.

Defining capitalism as a system of private property is equally problematic, because where would you draw the line between private and public?

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Is There a Human Right to Kill?

tai chang hsien (CC BY-NC 2.0)

tai chang hsien (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon write at CounterPunch:

On a cool spring day in May 2012, the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in McCormick Place, Chicago. The 28 heads of state comprising the military alliance had come to the Windy City to discuss the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, among other strategic matters. Nearly a decade before, in August 2003, NATO had assumed control of the International Security Assistance Force, a coalition of more than 30 countries that had sent soldiers to occupy the most troubled regions in Afghanistan. Not long before the Chicago summit, President Barack Obama had publicly declared that the United States would begin pulling out its troops from Afghanistan and that a complete withdrawal would be achieved by 2014. NATO was therefore set to decide on the details of a potential exit strategy.

A few days before the summit, placards appeared in bus stops around downtown Chicago urging NATO not to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

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