Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Empathic Dimension of the Question

The question emerges from both intersubjective and coexistential depths. Which is deeper, the intersubjective or the coexistential? Perhaps this question is destined, by virtue of these depths, to remain in a state of transfusion. It absorbs a liquidity. It swims.

The interrogative clause (the opening clausula of *-subjectivity) functions as a politeness marker in various discursive universes. The interrogative phrasing, involving syntactical transformation as well as prosodic inflection, makes requests nice. It shows care for the face of the other, which emerges from both intersubjective and coexistential depths.

A typology of speech acts will not stand as an adequate guide to the description of all that can be adventured with the question. Yet, let's ask in passing how the paradox of inquiry, one starting point for philosophical questioning, might be connected with the everyday request or the functions of the interrogative.

Is the request a passionate form of inquiry? Can there possibly be any true love of inquiry without passion? Well, the votaries of dispassionate inquiry have much to say in their favor. Indeed, as a provisional critic of dispassionate inquiry I rely upon the indirectness called "dispassion" in order to communicate a critique of and ultimately to think about—very about—the question. Nonetheless, exploring the empathic dimension—function, modality, horizons—this is yet exploratory—of the question inevitably touches on the matter of the passions.

In questioning we catch a glimpse of the for-itself at the same time we work with the for-others. On another plane it appears that the question entwines with feeling, or with vulnerability. We feel for the others whom we question.

To inquire is to empathize? Contrary examples abound. However, the quotidian polite question by its nature of caring about the face of the other demonstrates a consciousness of vulnerability. Are we already empathically understanding the other even before we inquire of them? If that's true in any sense, then how do we make up for the horrible impoliteness of asking? Are our true feelings for others irrevocably wrapped up in polite fictions? Asked to sacrifice something resembling authenticity—must we be asked, or do we already feel this thing like authenticity being set aside as we begin to formulate the polite question, the empathic question? Do we set this thing aside for a true understanding of the other, or a true transfusion of horizons, a fiction true to our feelings for others? Would there then be something ultimately untrue about selfishness revealed by the question?

When asking about the question, which are the truths we must attend to?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 10:58 AM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If questioning opens up the for-itself, what does the questioning of questioning do?

September 27, 2009 2:01 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Shows the for-itself to be more complicated than it lets on? In questioning turned in on itself (alternatively, folded out outside itself?) we catch a glimpse of the for-itself while our passion for knowledge, which could be an adventure of a for-itself, remains rather undiminished. Is it a distraction, this glimmer of the for-itself?

I'm surely not in a great position to discuss the for-itself, being underread and having had expressed skepticism about such a thing, though I gladly throw it out there.

The question can be bent. Does that say enough? These are the conditions of a bending of the question...? Among them, a passionate existence capable of creating something akin to an experience of questioning.

Nice to hear from you again, kvond.

September 27, 2009 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not big on the for-itself. I think nothing is ultimately for-itself, almost as a point of logic.

September 29, 2009 1:43 PM  

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