Monday, September 17, 2007


Nancy writes, "The thinking of freedom can only be seized, surprised, and taken from elsewhere by the very thing it thinks" (The Experience of Freedom, p. 8, available from influxus). I am most interested in how Nancy will think the surprise of freedom, a thinking that deliberately sets aside subjective ontology, and calls into question the notion of grounding. On what grounds do we think freedom? I am prepared to be surprised, if that's possible.

If there were not something like "freedom," we would not speak of it. For even when it is deprived of a referent or empty of all assingable signification, this word still caries, even to the point of indecision, or rather in the impasse of its meanings, the very meaning of logos in which philosophy recognizes itself: the opening of a free space of meaning. Thus philosophy has always already given itself over to the thinking of what it can neither master nor examine: and this is also what we understand, simply, by "being-free." We are therefore not free to think freedom or not to think it, but thinking (that is, the human being) is free for freedom: it is given over to and delivered for what from the beginning exceeded it, outran it, and overflowed it. But it is in this way that thinking definitively keeps its place in the world of our most concrete and living relations, of our most urgent and serious decisions.

(Ibidem, Nancy's emphases)

If Nancy's statement about meaning in this passage is to be harmonized with his other statements, the root of the chord would be "concrete and living relations." Nancy's thinking, though, is a rootless enterprise, a harmolodics. I am prepared to be surprised.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:30 AM.


Blogger Yusef Asabiyah said...

Thanks for this post, Fido.

September 18, 2007 7:57 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

You're welcome. Thank you. I'm hoping Nancy will lead me past indeterminacy, which is the last context I remember thinking freedom, clumsy as that was.

September 18, 2007 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The primary urge of free human beings, who are responsible for themselves and all of their human relationships, is to enter into cooperative relationships with others. It is natural for free and responsible men and women to live in forms of cooperative commitment to one another.

By contrast societies based on the usual adolescent motive of competitive individualism actually destroy culture, and all, until then, existing cultures, and cultural adaptations.

A society, or any loose collective, of mere self-undulgent individuals does not need, and cannot even tolerate a true culture, because a true culture must, necessarily, be characterized in its best, and even general, demonstrations, and, certainly, in its aspirations, by mutual tolerance, cooperation, peace and profundity.

September 19, 2007 12:46 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

I think there is something to what you are saying, anonymous. However, it seems to me that enmities are not a particular feature of Occidental industrialized societies. I do not conclude that therefore enmities are natural. I think to see the problem of enmities in society you would want to look at how a "primary urge" towards sociality is thwarted, frustrated, turned aside, or manipulated towards enmities. There are senses in which the development of enmities actually result from an exaggeration of the urge towards sociality, a hypertrophy, and paradoxically at the same time a constriction, of the us. (This is, incidentally, one reason I am suspicious of schemes of enlightenment that set up a vast region of the them.) I have not given the problem of enmities much thought, but perhaps there is an issue there of systematic misrecognitions of freedom.

September 19, 2007 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The situation of human culture altogether is far worse than you have even begun to imagine.

The current "tribal" disunity simply cannot be allowed to go on any longer, or humanity will self-destruct. That is what humanity does in its disuinity. It objectifies virtually everything and everyone, tries to control virtually everything and everyone, and (then) will destroy everything and everyone. The "objectification-game" happened long ago. The "control-game" is already in motion. And the "destruction-game" is now in process. At some advanced moment, not necessarily too far into the future, the destruction phase will come to a terminal point, unless this dreadful cycle is stopped.

What creates objectification to begin with?. The presumption of separateness. The presumption of non-unity, ego, separate "self", separate "point of view". If you bring "absolute points of view" together in the same room, they will automatically create this "objectification, control, and destruction" game.

Nevertheless, the potential of sanity is always priorly the case.

Human beings must NOW presume to act and live in the inherently sane manner of priority, and of the Indivisible Prior Truth That IS Reality Itself.

September 19, 2007 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion one of the best descriptions of what western culture is really all about is the book The Pentagon of Power by Lewis Mumford (1970).

It is a masterful description of how the drive to total power and control at the root of the entire western "cultural" project developed and manifested over the centuries.

In the 37 years since he wrote, all of the negative trends that he warned us about have come to fruition, and even to a far worse degree than what he could even begin to imagine.

The hunter-gatherer "culture" now infecting the entire planet with devastating and potentially terminal results.

September 19, 2007 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In his book Mumford also refers to the set of murals by Jose Clemente Orozco titled The Epic of American Civilization which is in the Dartmouth University Library.

These murals communicate in visual form everything that Mumford says altogether.

Altogether they are a profoundly revealing critique of European & USA "culture" altogether.

Google Orozco at Dartmouth

September 19, 2007 9:02 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Since the topic of my original post was freedom, perhaps you should Google slavery at Jamestown. The "destruction-game" of industrial capitalism was in full view from the git go. Perhaps a cult of the competitive individual was a cause. Perhaps though it was an effect. The history of Europe's systematic violence towards Africans begins in the 15th Century. It's a complicated history.

September 20, 2007 8:58 AM  

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