Conditions II

1. Why philosophy? What are the (material) needs for which thinking finds expression in philosophy? These may be political (e.g., Plato), religious, scientific/physical, etc. What is at stake is not simply the articulation of the philosophy of “our time” (as if thinking required stimulation by the environment). Even if such an account were possible (e.g., in a so-called “sociology of philosophy”), we are not asking “what” philosophy is but why philosophy? What is the wisdom we need, if ever there is wisdom that we seek?

2. Against the ideology of “eternal wisdom”—which in the name of a vague humanist subjectivity ultimately reifies thought into the most sterile objectivity—philosophy today is not merely an inflated commiseration on the injustices of the human condition. Modern philosophy exists as an account of conditions. The first step for the philosopher is not to ask “what is it?” but to notice that this object (thing, situation, circumstance, affect) is and has come to be. In science we would speak of causality and in mathematics we would speak of entailments: i.e., a physics of place, time, mode, and manner. But any account of how anything is is also an account of how it is not (in this time, in that place). A physics is therefore always a science of complexes. The philosopher asks “why this complex? why this combination? (gyms and rock music, suburbs and chain stores, fate and circumstance, guilt and punishment, science and technology)”. This account of conditions constitutes the theoretical component of philosophy; the practical, of course, is nothing other than the material performance of philosophy in the formation of the body or the corpus (which is not, of course, merely to speak of the biological body); finally, the logical component of philosophy is the construction of the thinking subject (i.e., thinking the conditions for thought). Broadly speaking, philosophy has three allies for these respective tasks: politics, aesthetics, and psychoanalysis.


2 thoughts on “Conditions II

  1. Thanks for the compliment and thanks as well for bringing this post back to my attention. It reminds me that, although I now find the post's style a bit clunky, my own orientations haven't changed much over the last four years. (I can't decide if that is a good thing or not…)

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