In the ongoing discussion of what is living and what is dead in Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly’s ALL THINGS SHINING project Kelly makes an important point about language. He argues that my insistence, in my review of the book, on using the qualifying adjectives in expressions like “non-theistic” gratitude and “immanent” authority (see also here) can be a way of giving, even unwittingly, priority to the term that they are opposing (« theistic » and « transcendent » respectively) and so skew the meaning of what one is getting at.

Kelly remarks that it would be best to come up with a non-dualistic way of talking that is “prior” to these oppositions, but this quest for priority may open up an infinite regress, searching for what is pre-prior to these prior terms, etc.

I agree that once it is clear that we are no longer talking in a theistic context, not even in a very sublimated or poetic one, then the dualistic adjectives can be dropped. My worry is that even so the vocabulary of gift, gratitude, and authority may still be skewed so as to cover up the phenomena as much as it reveals them.

Against this mental reservation, one could argue that more neutral terms (such as event, gladness, and potency) not only themselves contain their own presuppositions, but are also abstract and lifeless in comparison with the more personal-sounding terms that Kelly  proposes.

I do not know the answer to this aporia, or even if there is one. Sometimes I prefer the concrete and I personify and poetise shamelessly, at other times (and in other moods) I prefer abstraction and try out more austere vocabularies. Both can be illuminating, there is no rule.

Whatever our preferred solution,  I think in both cases we need mental “correctors” to compensate for any residual one-sidedness, and a “charitable” understanding of what our partners in dialogue may say.

There may be no pure phenomenological language in which to describe our experience, at least in terms of an abstract definition of  « purity ». We come back to the idea that the best we can do is speak in the most « appropriate » or the most « fitting » terms, according to the situation. Purity then, even in the domain of language, would no longer be an all-or-none affair, but a matter of gradations on a spectrum.

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  1. Ping : THE PROPER LANGUAGE OF PHILOSOPHY: colloquial vs abstract | AGENT SWARM

  2. landzek dit :

    Jordan Peterson put this in terms of that yes there may be an infinite amount of phenomenological meaning, but not all meaning is viable given the conditions of the world.

    I kind of like Jordan Peterson‘s basic philosophy even though I don’t like his Christian theme.

    He says that the more we propose to extend a theory out in the world the larger potential to be incorrect. He says that people tend to skip oneself and go right to theory, to ideological theorizing about how the world might be. He says that this is a mistake even as logical and semantic themes may make sense, they are riddled with an infinite amount of holes and gaps in reckoning. Add to that is these halls these gaps that account for all the problems of the world. And so what he advocates is to come back to the south and look at the self and see what is happening in the self to come to a solute sort of fabric of what constitutes the south, what being is, and its relation to what may be outside of it. Then once the South has come to terms with the truth of itself then it proceeds out into the world through step-by-step theoretical motion, not jumping out into what the world may be and using its reason to make theoretical past years that are all based in pretty much fantasy.

    It is interesting to me that they paired up Zizek and Peterson, even though Z is much more versed in skilled in the subtleties of philosophical language and the possibility of the subject in the world then Peterson ever is. I feel that Z being aware of this, where as Peterson ironically advocates just pure intuitive force, Z decided to be kind to Peterson. And I think the reason for this is because Zack somehow agrees with Peterson’s approach even while Peter Sam is severely lacking of tools in his philosophical armory.

    But also because Z psycho analysis basically speaks the same way, but what I see of lacking in zeal is that he does not consider that one is able to come back to some sort of self as opposed to a “actual” world, set as it is in a kind of redundant secular dynamic motion of discursive relationship.

    But personally I don’t think philosophy will ever get to some sort of self as a post to some actual world because the pub will perpetually argue away from having to recognize any imperfections of the self that is not constituted in philosophical reason. Simply because phenomenal logical reason, supported by argumentative philosophy, will not recognize any flaw in the self that cannot be indicated by someone else to argument. Hence, reason only stays in reason, the philosophical phenomenological self always stays in the reasonable phenomenon of argument: Marxism, ideology, grand world into- theoretical schemes, etc.

    So this book that you’re talking about seems to approach what is routinely philosophically avoided.



  4. Ping : NO TERMS ARE PRIMARY: towards a generic language of the phenomena | AGENT SWARM

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