Saturday, February 06, 2010
Hume is an important thinker for us because of (a) The direct importance of his doctrines on practical journalism - especially in trying to establish what is true in the world; (b) indirectly he is important because HCJ first year are going to have a direct session on Kant and Hegel and it is hard to understand Kant and Hegel without a bit of Hume first [Kant was reacting against HUME and the nub of that was an agreement with Hume that causation could not be directly detected by humans, but the causation might/does happen in another realm (the world of the unknownable - the 'numenal' world - ). I will talk about that a bit more in a forthmcoming videolecture on Kant]. Also for YEAR TWO HCJ we come eventually to the philosophy of LOGICAL POSITIVISM (that's essentially the view of the world to which nearly all scientists would subscribe and most other educated people now subscribe. It helps when looking at Logical Positivism to know a little bit about Hume - the Positivists really love Hume because extreme caution on drawing conclusions from data is just the day job of any sort of scientist - even the lowliest lab technician, to the the people working on space exploration and a cure for cancer (hurry up!); as much as they dislike metaphysics and Kant). So there's a division in western culture you might discern here - on the one hand we have the empiricists, liberalism, science, capitalism, atheism on the one hand; and there's a basket of idealists, romanticism, art, anti-capitalism and religion on the other; then there's sensible people in the middle who have a foot in each camp or who try to synthesise the two. But by now you should be starting to be able to place political ideas, works of art, social attitudes WITHIN a sort of map or spectrum bounded by these two cultural poles of empiricism and anti-empiricism; betwen science and art; between liberalism and anti-liberalism and between open-mindedness and dogma ... put another way... to use the words of one local girl made good... between SENSE (empiricism, scepticism, cynicism, hard-headedness) and SENSIBILITY (romanticism, hope, faith, love). Like the characters in Jane Austen's novel most of us veer wildly between the two.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Meanwhile a few more thoughts in preparation for the lecture itself. We have mentione the impact of FN several times, but we thought we needed a session specifically on him in the context of the way in which the HCJ programme in unfolding. It means we are a bit out of chronological order. We should have done FN in more detail at the same time as we did Freud. But Freud was enough. Obviously the Freudian divide between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind is a similar frame of analysis to that of NFN re: Apollo and Dyonisus. AnywayDIONYSUS and APOLLO The modern Dionysus and modern dance - the myth of orepheus. The modern apollo - Carl Sagan and the cult of space exploration. Our culture as a conflict between the apollo principle (as masculine principle, objective, scientific) and the dionysian principle (also feminine, subjective, religious). Also - Zarathustra - the reviled prophet who brings the news of the death of all the gods, and the extinction of humanity. Fn simply dismisses Christianity as unsupportable in the light of scientific fact (though he admires Jesus Christ as an Apollonian hero) - he then turns back to the the pre-Christian gods, armed with recent research at that time (this is the great age of archeology and discobery of lots of new information about the ancient greeks - far more than was known in the original 16th/17th century renaissance. So FN had read and translated all these ancient greek books about tragedy and the arts which nobody had read, and found this divide between enlightenment and tragedy. What is interesting to me is the re-reading of European history in the light of the apollonian and dionysian categories - with the Enlightenment being a cult of apollo and romanticism and religion being diyonsian. The conflict between these two things is (further) in hegelian terms a motor for the evolution and development of culture which otherwise might be static. Anyway the impact of this on writing and thinking about the arts and music has been immense - 'God is dead' being 'the second most influential phrase ever uttered in European culture (says tom Wolfe - see elsewhere). The most import of course is The Cogito - 'I think therefore I am'. Anyway more in the lecture - it should be a good one - and in the following webcast.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Something reminded me on an article I did years ago for BBC online about popular conspiracy theories. This is a bit like Descates and his idea of the Evil Demon who deceives everyone about everything (for David Icke this is updated to super-intelligent lizards from another planet who have morphed themselves into the British Royal family - possible I suppose and unlike, say the book of genesis, impossible to refute by means of empirical evidence. We are talking today about French anti-semitism in the wake of Dreyfus and the Commune, and Action Francais who, during the second world war were so anti-semitic that even the SS had to restrain them. Modern anti-semitism dates back in the main to French pulp fiction from the third republic, where books like those of Edouard Drumont - very much the Da Vinci Code of his day. These works of fiction - presented as fact - were later used as 'evidence' of a world jewish conspiracy. See: Paranoia Paradise.
David Icke - psychopathic anti-semitism.
David Icke - psychopathic anti-semitism.