Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

la filosofie deconstructionée: chalk and cheese...


Not long ago, a friend of mine—an Air Force veteran now serving elsewhere in the public sector—interviewed a young, well-spoken, female applicant with a strong academic portfolio from a respected public university. A few questions into the interview, she started talking about “power structures” and their influence on every part of society. My friend, a bit bewildered, asked her to explain. He got a mouthful of pedantic jargonese about race and power that implied that he, a white male, was perpetuating a system that exploited and oppressed all manner of disenfranchised peoples, including the applicant, an Asian American. My friend patiently reminded the applicant that insinuating that he was racist might not be the most advised means of acquiring a job.

What my friend had encountered were concepts from some of the most predominant philosophical schools in the West: postmodernism and deconstructionism. Many conservatives and Christians know they’re supposed to be wary of these ideologies, as well their most notorious advocates, 20th-century Frenchmen Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Francois Lyotard. There is good reason for this wariness, given that postmodernism and deconstructionism, as they are understood at the popular level, are based on initial premises of skepticism and cynicism towards established authorities and beliefs. Yet a proper understanding (which admittedly is itself a problematic moniker for what those two words represent) reveals that they are an effective tool in dismantling the falsehoods of modernism, even if they ultimately fail to offer a robust, coherent alternative.

The problem with even classifying the thought of Foucault and Derrida is that they weren’t necessarily seeking to create a unified intellectual system to explain reality. Indeed, postmodern philosophers are de facto suspicious and critical of such attempts. They’re far more interested in making observations—often true and insightful—regarding certain aspects or subsets of knowledge. The problems develop when people try to universalize these observations.

Consider first Michel Foucault, whose most famous aphorism is that “power is knowledge.” This observation stems from Foucault’s experience with various institutions of power, including mental hospitals and prisons, though his analysis extends to factories, sex, and money, among other things. In his Discipline and Punish, Foucault argues that knowledge is not disinterested or innocent, but inextricably united to power relationships that affect both the exterior and interior of man. This “disciplinary society” forces people, including through implicit societal surveillance, to conform to various cultural standards. Those who exist outside the ad hoc boundaries are often demonized, pathologized, and criminalized. Those who enjoy power and privilege aim to control those who do not.


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A lot of these thinking guys from the smelly Camembert country were filosofers. They were stirrers... and good at it. for example, Paul-Michel Foucault, generally known as Michel Foucault, the French philosopher who was an historian of ideas, a social theorist, and a literary critic addressed the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. His quote "power is knowledge" is absolutely demonstrated with the rise of Trump.

Trump knows nothing but power. Having power, one "can decide". Look at this other little runt, MBS, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, of Saudi Arabia. His rule is the law. 

The one important thing that all these "post-modern" stirrers did was to steer the populace away from the dominion of the illusion of god. It is quite telling that this article in The American Conservative is written by a student, Casey Chalk, of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College. 

The name Chalk is ironic here. It's the case of chalk and cheese. The French filosophers (Gus term for post-modernist philosophers), these French cheeses, knew far more about the philosophical past than Chalk. Chalk mentions we should heed the words of the American philosopher Mortimer J. Adler, who declared that all philosophy is bound to fail when it arrogantly rejects out of hand the wisdom of the ancients (and Medievalists) who synthesized so much of human knowledge and wisdom that was indeed true, good, and beautiful.

This is the point of these French filosofers doing deconstruction: for yonks, human "knowledge" had only been a pretext to maintain power. This is why for many years, education was limited and knowledge (powerful fake godly news maintained by fear mostly) was exclusive to kings and religious institutions. Wisdom was NEVER TRUE, nor good, nor beautiful, but served only to maintain the differential between kings and their subjects — or between rulers and their peasants (even during the times BC)... This is partly why theatre was "invented" as a counterpoint to "exclusive" rule and as a way to let steam off with piss-ups and orgies. Soon theatre became satire, the mocking of the religious mob and their gods, and became mimed when forbidden to speak — till theatre was completely shut down by the "powerful" catholic church around 400 AD. No anti-religious views, please or you will be shot...

Up until the advent of proper sciences, "knowledge" was a made up concoction of beliefs that had morphed into "laws". Nothing true, nothing good, but "power". Even democracy is still paddling in mud because the "old hand the wisdom of the ancients (and Medievalists —idiots) who synthesized so much of human FAKE knowledge and EXCLUSIVE wisdom that was indeed NOT true, NOR good, and NOT beautiful" — is still mucking it up.

And please, let's not mention that sad sour spivvy sod, René Girard, in the same breath as these colossal deconstructionists.

the invisible hand...


Gus is a rabid atheist...

we are thieves...

"The decisive outcome for the philosophies of Antiquity was their capacity to produce a few wisemen; in the Middle Ages, to rationalize dogma; in the classical age, to found science; in modern times, it is their ability to justify massacres."

                   Michel Foucault


All throughout human "history", we have been robbing each other — intellectually and practically — by various means under various pretexes. Even during the Antiquity, wars and empire were the soup of the day, despite the "wisdom". 


"Capitalism robs the public commons and Communism robs the individuals. We are thieves."  

                  Mama Leonisky


It ain't going to end well, unless we stop the plunder.

more chalk about humble godly cheese...


Here Casey Chalk (see above) — a student at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College who covers religion and other issues for TAC explains how to make a humble stick for your own back...


Ambrose Bierce defined education as “that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” Learning, said Bierce, is “the kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.” I thought of Bierce when my wife recently told me about how one of her friends had reacted to our Christmas letter. The woman, upon learning I was completing a theology graduate degree, asked in earnest, “So your husband is a theologian?” My wife, much to her credit, laughed and answered no. “He’s definitely not a theologian. It’s more of a hobby,” she said. Yet few graduates of our universities are willing to demonstrate any measure of humility when it comes to their expertise, or, more commonly, lack thereof.

America’s everybody-gets-a-trophy syndrome has apparently made its way deep into the corridors of academia. Many times I’ve run into those who profess expertise in some field, only to scratch the surface and discover their academic credentials to be less than stellar. A few years ago, a supervisor at my then-job learned that I had once been a student at a Protestant seminary. “I’m a theologian,” she declared to me. I asked her, in the politest terms I could muster, how exactly this was the case. Because she’d secured a masters in theology from Georgetown, she said. She had never written a book, or a peer-reviewed article, or even presented a paper at a conference. She has no public record of work that might be cited by others in the field. Yet her degree, achieved in the evenings while working a full-time job, was apparently enough to merit the title “theologian.”

This problem is not unique to those in religious studies. I routinely see people claiming to be “historians” because they’ve written a popular-level book or teach at some collegiate or sub-collegiate level. Yet often they lack doctorates and are incapable of conducting truly scholarly research in the vernacular of their subject, or of reading other historians published in another language. I’ve run across “economists” with nothing more than a bachelor’s in economics who think their ability to crunch some numbers and apply what they learned in an undergraduate microeconomics class equates with being a specialist in the field. Perhaps we need to revise the song made popular by Huey Long: “every man a scholar.

Previous generations evinced far more humility. Many of our nation’s founders, for example, were remarkable men of letters who individually traversed many disciplines: law, political theory, philosophy, agriculture, architecture, military strategy, theology, and science. Yet few of them would have had the audacity to declare themselves experts in all these disciplines. Even the polymathic Thomas Jefferson, who, though a secretary of state and a president, reluctantly understood himself as a statesman and would have been most likely to label himself a scientist and farmer. Consider also that the humbling phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” was in wide use throughout 18th-century colonial America.


This, of course, is not to say that bachelor’s and master’s degrees are useless or of little value (they’d better not to be: otherwise I’ve been wasting a lot of money on a master’s in theology!). If one makes the most of one’s time in college or graduate school, one should, generally speaking, be more competent to speak on certain subjects than the general populace. Yet this is a far cry from being an “expert.

Ten years ago, while serving in Afghanistan, I met a talented young man who was serving as a briefer to then-commander of international forces Stanley McChrystal. During our conversation, I made some off-handed remark about experts on Afghanistan. “I’m no expert on Afghanistan,” he asserted, despite his prestigious role. It was surprising to hear, especially from someone of a generation (my own!) that is typically thirsty for trophies and titles. “We need to save that kind of word for people who really understand this country, who’ve studied it for many years, learned the languages,” he told me. Channeling his best Jack Ryan, he declared, “Me? I’m just an analyst.” Would that we all had the courage to be so humble.


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educationing about filosofie...


Education is the process of casting false pearls before real swine... (Irwin Edman — 1900s)


A mere scholar, a mere ass (Robert Burton — 1600s)


He who can does. He who cannot teaches ( G B Shaw — 1900s)


The vanity of teaching often tempteth a man to forget he is a blockhead (George Saville — 1600s)


and many more... Including:


The Romans would never have had time to conquer the world if they had been obliged to learn Latin first of all. (Heinrich Heine — 1700s)



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