I began my discussion of the Chomsky/Zizek dispute by saying that my interest is not so much doctrinal or adherence to a party line (the party of Zizek fans, or that of Chomsky supporters) as typological, and that the typology(in this case Continental vs Analytic) shows up all the more in the case of such bad arguments. What is at stake in in the Chomsky/Zizek differend is a difference in cognitive styles between Continental and Analytic modes of thinking.I have no loyalty at all to Zizek and I far prefer Chomsky’s politics. But I cannot stand his positivistic denial of cognitive content to all poststructuralist French philosophy. And I do not approve of his rhetorical posturing, for example here:

« take Derrida, one of the grand old men. I thought I ought to at least be able to understand his Grammatology, so tried to read it. I could make out some of it, for example, the critical analysis of classical texts that I knew very well and had written about years before. I found the scholarship appalling, based on pathetic misreading; and the argument, such as it was, failed to come close to the kinds of standards I’ve been familiar with since virtually childhood. Well, maybe I missed something: could be, but suspicions remain”.

This shows once again that the problem is not Zizek, but the whole cognitive stance (“posture”) of Continental philosophy. I think it very important to distinguish rhetorical posturing, which even Chomsky is capable of, and cognitive posture, which is an essential attribute of thought that one can downplay (or even « forget ») or accentuate and make heuristic use of.

Chomsky cannot be expected to read everything, nor can he expect to understand everything he reads. In both cases he should abstain from blanket uninformed dismissal.

So to continue my list of traits:

8) typological thinking: one assembles a sort of composite image of a particular mode of thinking that one wishes to consider (Zizek’s LESS THAN NOTHING begins with a typology of the stupid: idiot, imbecile, moron)

9) cognitive posture: Continental Philosophy explores, and proposes, background rules and conditions for the conduct of thought. Deleuze calls this the « image of thought », and claims that every philosopher proposes such an image (the typology of stupidity cited above is also a typology of cognitive postures, and Zizek situates his own thought in the highest degree of the « imbecile » posture, where it becomes thought of movement).

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