Showing posts from March, 2013

Taking the world apart

'During another bout of the blues, [Derrida] wrote to a friend from his infirmary bed, “I’m no good for anything except taking the world apart and putting it together again (and I manage the latter less and less frequently).”

That’s not a bad description of deconstruction, an exercise in which unraveling—of meaning and coherence, of the kind of binary logic that tends to populate philosophical texts—is the path to illumination. In Derrida’s reading, Western philosophers’ preoccupation with first principles, a determination to capture reality, truth, “presence,”—what he called in reference to the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl “the thing itself”—was doomed. He traced this impulse in thinkers from Aristotle to Heidegger, famously arguing, for example, that a tendency to favor the immediacy of speech over the remoteness of writing was untenable....
With the tenacity of a gumshoe, he haunted texts by Plato, Rousseau, Saussure, Levi-Strauss, Marx, and Hegel, among dozens of others, exp…


I just saw this image online, and it strikes me how it can serve as a beautiful analogy for the goal of psychotherapy, at least of a certain sort, that can repair broken souls and render them all the more exquisite by utilizing their very fractures to make their lives more meaningful.

Nietzsche and Women

"... the total impression is very far from the dislike and fear of [women] with which [Nietzsche] is popularly credited. Essentially, one feels, women were for Nietzsche something strange, mystifying and, above all, tempting.... Much more important than any of this, however, is a simple fact which was pointed out by Bernoulli years ago but which is generally lost sight of: although we know of at least one woman whom he loved, we know of no woman who loved him."
R. J. Hollingdale, Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy

Religion Without God

Excerpts from Religion Without God by Ronald Dworkin at The New York Review of Books:
"Richard Dawkins says that Einstein’s language is “destructively misleading” because clarity demands a sharp distinction between a belief that the universe is governed by fundamental physical laws, which Dawkins thought Einstein meant, and a belief that it is governed by something “supernatural,” which Dawkins thinks the word “religion” suggests.
But Einstein meant much more than that the universe is organized around fundamental physical laws; indeed his view I quoted is, in one important sense, an endorsement of the supernatural. The beauty and sublimity he said we could reach only as a feeble reflection are not part of nature; they are something beyond nature that cannot be grasped even by finally understanding the most fundamental of physical laws. It was Einstein’s faith that some transcendental and objective value permeates the universe, value that is neither a natural phenomenon nor a sub…


"... you have to keep small rations of subjectivity in sufficient quantity to enable you to respond to the dominant reality."
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

The Learn’d Astronomer

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


"... emptied of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, make me realize that I'd been happy, and that I was happy still." 
Albert Camus, The Stranger

What is it like to be an Electron?

Panpsychism is the philosophical position that mind is a fundamental feature of the world. Given our scientifically dominated world-view, it is an odd concept for most, but it is not without its philosophical merits,  it is very hard to refute, and remains a valid philosophical alternative as long as Emergentism isn't proven by science. Even though it posits fundamental properties to the world for which there is no current scientific support, it is not a doctrine at opposition to science and empirical research. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry is a very good resource to read more about it.
Panpsychism attributes mental properties to fundamental constituents of the world (the elementary particles of physics) and one of the things that preoccupies me about Panpsychism is the question of whether these elementary particles are conscious or unconscious. One can postulate that elementary particles do indeed possess states of consciousness, but that this consciousness is of…


Antonio Canova, A Figure Representing Virtue (The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)
This mourning figure represents the virtue of Conjugal Tenderness.


"It's not heaven, only a promise of heaven... It feels like Earth."