11TH AND 12TH TRAITS OF CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY: Deconstructing the question and Thinking in problematics

Chomsky is an unreliabe narrator, an unreliable reader of an commentator on Continental Philosophy. Deleuze relegates such comments AND THEIR EXPECTED RESPONSES to the dogmatic image of thought. Chomsky constructs no problematic, he just presumes that he can rattle off stereotyped debater style crushing questions and objections destined more to embarrass and perplex, and so reduce to silence, or to globally dismiss, than to advance the discussion. He scotomises what does not suit the stereotype he is trying to construct to replace Zizek etc, but Zizek is Real and does not respond positively to this stereotype (Zizek knows full well and shows us that he is not a Chomsky’s construction). So Chomsky does not construct Zizek’s problematic correctly, because he is not even looking for Zizek’s problematic, and so he reads badly.

Chomsky does not construct a problematic at all, because he does not feel the need to (in this he is quite un-Continental) and he seems incapable of recognising one in the French philosophers he reads. He does not look for the problematic first, and how to transform it, he looks for new truths and new facts, and is disappointed (but not really surprised) when he finds only truisms and platitudes.

This is important to indicate because in my blogging I have several times indicated that OOO is concept-blind and criticises other positions by first removing their problematic and their concepts and then dismissing them with hectoring questions and mocking remarks. Chomsky employs the same procedure, and so scotomises the actual content of Continental texts. Chomsky is problematic-blind, and so theory-blind.

Unfortunately Chomsky’s questions and comments, which target no problematic in Zizek’s work, construct no discernible problematic for themselves either. They represent broad spectrum debaters’ objections against a position that he is incapable of recognising. Deleuze detested this whole fast-food question and answer approach as he affirmed that it forced thought into pre-given binary oppositions and actively hindered the emergence and the perception of alternatives outside the all too familiar stereotypes. They are instruments of scotomisation and of concept-blindness, and Chomsky illustrates this perfectly.

Another thing I learned here in France is that no Continental philosopher replies to a question or to a comment of any importance without first deconstructing the question (which also involves, of course, deconstructing the problematic behind the question). And I’m not talking just about Derrida and Derrideans. You can see this reflex at work in Lyotard, Serres, Deleuze, Badiou, Nancy etc, although sometimes it happens so fast that unprepared you might miss it, substituting one word for another could be enough, in other cases several pages of deconstructing the question go by before the philosopher gets round to answering the question on the basis of a renewed problematic. This thinking in terms of problematics is not just a tic of narcissistic Parisian philosophers, it is learned all over the country in high school, not just in philosophy classes, but in virtually every subject.

11) Deconstruct the question: any question or comment comes with a set background presuppositions which must be made conscious, examined, and transformed, before responding. This is one reason why Continental texts, and even dialogues, are not simply « conversations ».

12) Think in problematics: deconstructing the question already includes constructing the subjacent problematic of the view one is responding too. But one is at the same time obliged to construct one’s own problematic. Continental Philosophy « sees » in terms of problematics, otherwise it would see nothing at all.

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