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Felix Hoenikker

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Request author explanations here...

 

Agamben, Giorgio

Bleiker, Roland

Butler, Judith

Chomsky, Noam

Derrida, Jacques

Foucault, Michel

Heidegger, Martin

Nietzsche, Friedrich

Schopenhauer, Arthur

Shapiro, Michael

Spanos, William

Edited by Rhizome
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i could probably read zizek for an hour and not understand a fucking word he says... this of course is partially due to my own incompetence, but if someone would post some zizek vocab and an overall explanation, it'd be greatly appreciated.

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Judith Butler

Martin Heidigger

Noam Chompsky

William Spanos

Jacques Derrida

Arthur Schopenhauer

Emmanuel Levinas

Micheal Shapiro

Gergio Agamben

Michel Foucalt

 

Those are some major ones

on a side note would it be better to have an explanation of existentialism or to individually do Albert Camus/Jean Paul Sartre

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Immanuel Kant

It'd be great if maybe some good starting reading materials (references will work) from him or about him were added in too.

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really looking forward to the following..

 

Agamben, Giorgio

Bleiker, Roland

Butler, Judith

Chomsky, Noam

Derrida, Jacques

Foucault, Michel

Heidegger, Martin

Nietzsche, Friedrich

Schopenhauer, Arthur

Shapiro, Michael

Spanos, William

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please.

 

It really is almost impossible to explain him, he contradicts himself because he wrote so much, and there are so many conflicting views on what he actually thought. I would recommend just getting a basic understanding from wikipedia or something, unless you are going to run 1 off (his K) this year fairly often, or i guess if u hit it a lot.

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If we want to attempt to explain some of these authors do we just post as a reply? EDIT: what the hell, ill try to give an answer to what Nietzsche says: "God is dead, god remains dead, and we have killed him" what Nietzsche basically is trying to say is that God no longer can act as a guidebook to absolute morality. People who don't believe in this "cosmic order" have no right to try to define what is moral and what is not, for what can their beliefs be grounded on? That being said, Nietzsche believes that trying to be a good person all the time will get you caught up in the feeling that you have to fix everyone else's problem. For example, say you see a homeless person in the street, some very generous person is able to help this homeless person get a job and get settled. For this generous person, another problem is going to take the place of this homeless person giving him/her the feeling that this new problem must be fixed. By going on an on forever, this person effectively becomes enslaved to the notion that they have to fix everyone else's problem. Nietzsche tells people that they basically shouldn't give a shit about other people. He says that there are two types of people in life: master moralities and slave moralities. The master is one who can affirm their own will power and the slave is the one who is unable to realize their own will power. The only intrinsic value in a slave is to be used by the master to achieve happiness. How this ties to debate is that you can say that voting aff wont eliminate suffering, it will fix one specific problem in a spectrum of problems which are too infinite to solve, so the judge just shouldn't give a shit about it.

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Michel Foucault: Foucault really puts forward three basic principles in his theory: 1) power is fluid, it can shift from one agency to another. 2) knowledge and power co-produce. 3) Disciplinary power is like a panopticon. A panopticon is a prison with a central tower where guards stand with a one way window into individual cells. The prisoner in each cell doesn't know when s/he is being watched so s/he always acts conforming to the desires of whatever institution is incarcerating him/her. Foucault argues that modern society is like a panopticon. For examples, cops exist to enforce laws. Laws are enforced through disciplinary power (through fear of punishment). Say it's night, there are no cops around and you come across a red light. You most likely will stop at it even though you know no one is watching. The reason is because society has taught you to do it through disciplinary power. This is like a panopticon because you (the prisoner) act in a conformal way out of fear. Foucault refers to this power as normalization. Most impact cards people will read is that normalization leads to sovereignty on the level of life which is dehumanizing and/or causes extinction.

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Michel Foucault: Foucault refers to this power as normalization. Most impact cards people will read is that normalization leads to sovereignty on the level of life which is dehumanizing and/or causes extinction.

 

Yes, but it is important to recognize that Foucault did not view Biopower as something evil. Rather, he looked at biopolitics as the more dangerous force, that is the molding of the beliefs of citizens, rather than just behavior. It is this part of biopower that those impact cards refer to. Biopower in general is what holds society together.

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the real question is: is anyone actually an expert on Heidegger?

 

hahaha - well, seeing as there are at least 2 separate heideggers (probably more) then i dont really think so... but if anything Hubert Dreyfus gets pritty damn close...

 

other than that if really needed id be willing to write some shit up and cite it and shit liek that, but id reather it be like a dialouge type thing with others who know their shit as well...

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Existentialism, in a nutshell:

 

"I am the master of my own universe, I possess the power to give objects and even other people meaning, I create meaning for myself, what the hell am I doing in a nutshell?"

 

Seriously, though here's Existentialism condensed:

 

Imagine you have a coffee cup. Now drill a hole in that cup, is it still a coffee cup? Most would say yes. Drill 2 holes? Sure. 50 holes? Well, its not very useful, but if you looked at it you would still see "coffee cup." Now, drill it until you just have a pile of ceramic dust. Is it still a coffee cup? No. At what point did it stop becoming a coffee cup? The 1st hole? The 11th? The 111th?

 

The point is that it was never a coffee cup to begin with. It was being in its purest and simplest form. We gave this being a shape and a form (see: Kant) and gave it the essence: coffee cup.

 

The 1st person to realize that we have the power to define the purpose of objects was Soren Kierkegaard. In his book Either/Or he describes the human condition as a series of choices in which we have no guidance to help us. Kinda depressing, huh? He started a movement that would become existentialism.

The next big philosopher to talk about existence was Nietzsche. He states that we find ourselves thrown into this world with no true guidance and where we are ultimately responsible for the actions we take. Nietzche furthers Kierkegaard’s argument saying that we innately fear and despair in the responsibility of creating our own morality and the certainty of our own morality. He calls this condition Nihilism. He states that people take advantage of our fear of responsibility and tell us how to live. He mainly attacks the X-tian church for this, but is against all forms of control or limit to the individual. He says that the way we avoid Nihilism is through creating our own morality, and that the person that does is an Overman.

Next is line is Heidegger. Heidegger is possibly the hardest person on earth to understand, but (if I’m reading him correctly), he says that we are all products of a history that is external to us. Even though each individual creates and molds their own reality, and everything in that reality is flux, history and time are something we have no control over. He says the way to avoid nihilism is to have our name imprinted into history like Hitler, Ghandi or Napoleon. (NOTE: He said a LOT more than this, this is just what pertains to existentialism.)

Existentialism was then finally named and further developed through the works of Jean-Paul Sartre, a well known philosopher on the subject. Sartre defined the basic tenets which make up existentialism. One argument is that existence precedes essence. This means that the mere fact that something exists in the universe precedes what that object ultimately is. While this may seem like common sense, the argument has long-reaching impacts. This argument implies that existence has no meaning, until meaning is created. Humans give objects meaning. Now, we don’t usually go around saying “that’s a coffee cup because I say it is,” but what about more subjective things? Morality for instance. Grind the world down to the finest sand, then sift it through the finest sieve, and find me one atom of “good” or “bad.” It doesn’t exist. However, they are things we use in every decision we make. We label certain actions as “good” and “evil” in the same way we label certain things as “coffee cup,” but in reality they are as much constructs of our mind as the term “cup” is. Humans do not have a predefined purpose or meaning; rather, humans define themselves in terms of whom they become in response to the challenges posed by existence in the world. Two other important tenets of existentialism outlined by Sartre is “being in itself” and “being for itself.” Being in-itself is an object that is not free and cannot change its own essence. It ultimately has no meaning and must be given a purpose by something. Being for-itself is free; it does not need to be what it is and can change into what it is not. Because humans are conscious, they are therefore beings for their selves. This means that each individual creates purpose in their own lives and defines the meaning and purpose of beings-in-themselves. In Sartre’s eyes, beings for themselves are almost gods. However, it’s a lot of responsibility to play god. To determine not only that “this is a coffee cup” and “this is good or evil” but also “this is what I am as a being-for-myself.” This also, means that no two humans can co-exist equally. Once one person exerts any control or power over another, the others freedom is restricted and their essence is altered. That person then becomes a being in-itself. When two beings-for-themselves conflict, Sartre argues, one will always win and one will always lose, altering the losers essence. Because of this, Sartre argues values are subjective. He denies that there are any objective standards on which to base values because humans make meaning for themselves. This also feeds into the argument behind nihilism because in a world here decisions and values are not based on any particular standard then there is no ultimate truth and life becomes chaotic and meaningless.

Existentialism tries to avoid nihilism. Nihilism, as explained earlier, is the ultimate despair and hopelessness of the human existence. Humans find themselves alienated and hopeless. Each of the existentialist philosophers after K saw nihilism as a problem facing the world and proposed ways to avoid it. Nietzsche used his “will to power” to create the Ubermensch or Overman. Nietzsche says that when a person can create their own morality, and not give in to the will of others, they transcend humanity and become the ultimate being. They create meaning, and therefore avoid the despair of meaninglessness. Writing around the same time as H was JPS. S view of nihilism was a bit more depressing. In his book Nausea S’s main character Antoine Roquentin begins feeling nauseous while looking at everyday objects. He tries to escape this feeling by looking for meaning in history, power, love and himself. However, none of these seem to comfort him. He ultimately realizes while looking at the roots of a chestnut tree that the characteristics he is giving these objects is hiding the true existence behind them. In this he realizes that the reason the nausea came was because while we was giving other objects characteristics he was unable to define himself. Humans give meanings to themselves. This is both a freedom and a burden. To explain this Sartre writes, “I can't say I feel relieved or satisfied, just the opposite, I am crushed. Only my goal is reached: I know what I have to know; I have understood all that has happened to me since January. The Nausea has not left me and I don't believe it will leave me so soon; but I no longer have to bear it, it is no longer an illness or a passing fit: it is I” (Nausea p. 170). Sartre’s solution is to embrace the absurdity of the world and to make meaning for ourselves. Sartre agrees this is not easy, but argues it’s a necessity to avoid nihilism.

I know this was not the best-written explanation, but I hope it helped someone and hopefully others can build off of it.

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edelman...what is this guy's deal?

 

I got this one.

First off, Edelman is a Lacanian scholar, and he combines Lacanian psychoanalysis with queer theory. This is important mostly because of the way he writes; if you aren't well versed in Lacanian jargon, then it's difficult to understand what he's saying.

 

Edelman contends that politics is dominated by the image of the Child; that all politics is framed in terms of children, and that it's like an ideological mobius strip, because no one questions the logic of "We're fighting for the children; whose side are you on?" Politics fetishizes future generations in terms of what Edelman calls Reproductive Futurism. Reproductive Futurism is the idea that we must constant defer our own lives to building a better future for tomorrow for our children. The Child is a symbol for the future, because protecting the innocence of that Child is the end point of all our politics.

Protecting the Child, as a figure for the future, is a vision of utopia in the same way that Stavrikakis talks about. Utopian fantasies always call for an enemy because the utopia is impossible and there must be a scapegoat; the Jew in Nazi Germany for example. For Reproductive Futurism, the enemy is the queer since they fail to produce any children, which threatens the future itself. Queerness is not limited to homosexuality; anyone who doesn't buy into the mandate of Reproductive Futurism is queer. Queers actually threaten the Symbolic realm of the Child by virtue of their nonacceptance of it, because any denial (remember the mobius strip) has the potential to break down the logic of Reproductive Futurism.

Edelman's solution is to accede to the status of sinthomosexuality. The sinthome is Lacan's term for pure jouissance; unadulterated pleasure aimed at no one in particular. The sinthome is not definable; it is only conceivable by how one enjoys the Real in his unconscious. The sinthomosexual is not queerness per se, because as Edelman writes, "queerness can never define an identity, it can only ever disturb one," but it is the logical end of taking queer capacity to disturb to its fullest. The sinthomosexual is not a Symbolic identity; it is the embrace of the kernel of the Real, the embrace of the sinthome that denies notions of symbolic identity.

 

Edelman also contends that the future doesn't exist, though I don't think this is unique to him. "The future can only exist in the mode of figuration because it stands for a linguistic rather than temporal destiny." We can never actually access the future, we can only ever live in the now, in the same way that we can't access the past. Nothing actually exists except in the present; therefore, a time period cannot exist. The future (and the past, to some extent) is always morphing; things that might happen in the future changes to serve the interests of those in charge, to protect the Child. The future is in constant flux, because no one actually knows what will happen tomorrow; thus, we justify actions via predictive claims that some external threat might put at risk the Child.

 

 

Any questions or anything I didn't cover, just ask!

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Arthur Schopenhauer was a 19th century philosopher who was greatly influential in philosophy, music, psychology and literature. His most important book is The World as Will and Representation. I'll skip a biography and get straight to this. He considered his work to be a continuation of Kant’s work, so we will begin by going over the relevant points of Kant.

 

 

Immanuel Kant stated that the way we perceive the world and the way the world actually are two different things (think The Matrix, but not as gay, and with less Keanu Reeves and more cowbell). The easiest way to understand it is like this: imagine an apple pie. We can see it, touch it, taste it etc. Now imagine a picture of an apple pie. We know that it is not the real thing, but what are our eyes but sophisticated cameras? When we see the “pie” we are bound by our 5 senses. We are not getting at all a representation of what the pie actually is, just what our minds are telling us it is. We define things by how they look, feel and so on, and by how big or small they are and how they are spatially and temporally placed. However, we are given only a representation of that object. It’s also like a thermometer. It tells us what the temperature is, but it itself is not the temperature. The things we experience are known as phenomenon while the actual objects, aside from our perceptions of them are known as the noumenon or thing-in-itself. Kant said that in order for us to experience something, the thing-in-itself had to present itself to us, and then we take that and turn it into something our minds can comprehend. To Kant, concepts such as time, space and causality are only the creations of our mind to help comprehend the sensory input our brain receives, not something that actually happens in reality.

 

 

Schopenhauer was a follower of Kant, but had one big problem with him. If causality was only our minds way of understanding the universe, but had no basis in reality, then how could a thing-in-itself cause our mind to perceive it? It couldn’t. If the things-in-themselves cannot cause us to perceive them, then our perception must be somehow linked to them. He gives this example, we know that our bodies are physical, but we rarely think of them this way. He noticed that our consciousness was housed in a corporeal body and that the two shared a symbiotic relationship. The heart and lungs aren’t usually voluntarily controlled by us, and our kidneys and livers certainly aren’t, but without them we wouldn’t be able to live. Likewise, without our consciousness getting food and other things needed to survive, the kidneys and heart would fail. What could cause this symbiotic relationship in Kant’s world? How can something be both external and internal to us? If the thing-in-itself is imprinted onto our minds, what started our heart beating in the first place?

 

 

He unified the thing-in-itself and our sensory input as two sides of the same coin instead of one causing the other. Essentially, think of it this way. In Kant’s world, it’s like a cue ball striking another ball causing it to move. The thing in itself causes is to perceive it. In Schopenhauer’s world the perception is the representation of the thing-in-itself, like flame and light. The flame doesn’t cause light per say, the light is just a by-product of the flame. Kant said that our mind separates things into nine categories -

 

 

 

quantity (unity, plurality, totality),

 

quality (reality, negation, limitation),

 

relation (substance, cause, community) and

 

modality (possibility, existence, necessity) -

 

 

 

however Schopenhauer narrowed this down to 3 categories, causality, space and time. Schopenhauer didn’t think that multiplicity was a reality, just something created by our minds. There was only one reality, and he called that reality The Will. The Will was the driving force behind the universe. It was a unifying theory that encompassed everything, including our perceptions of it. The Will was the thing-in-itself. See the computer screen you’re looking at? It is the same thing as the chair you’re sitting in and it is the same thing as your consciousness. If this sounds like retarded hippy crap, just wait.

 

 

So according to Schopenhauer, everything in the universe was driven by a Will, but what was that a Will to do? Well, it’s not that simple. It was just a Will that is an endless striving and blind impulse with no end in view, devoid of knowledge, lawless, absolutely free, entirely self-determining and almighty. There was no concept of “god” “justice” “right” or “wrong,” it was just there. It struggles for nothing in particular and gets nowhere and causes endless frustration in humans. When logic is applied to the Will, we form it into everyday life. However, according to Schopenhauer the Will was more important than reason or logic.

 

 

Schopenhauer’s view on human action has been called “pessimistic,” and rightfully so. He considered human desire as the primary motivator to human action. Things like hunger and sexual desire overwhelm paltry ideas such as logic and reason. However, remember that the will has no end or purpose, and so Schopenhauer saw human action. Think of sexuality. In Schopenhauer’s view we reproduce to reproduce to reproduce. There is no real point, and no end goal and the process can only be stopped by extinction. So either we face the futility of constantly going through the cycle of life, or we go extinct. Reason says, well extinction doesn’t sound so bad in the face of futility, but no matter what you do, people will still have sex. Moreover, Schopenhauer says that by everyone following their Will, it will create endless suffering because there are only so many resources and not everyone’s insatiable desire can always be met, hence creating conflict. Schopenhauer described this as “the worst of all possible worlds,” because before humans, the Will was a constant struggling force. Humans have separated and individualized it into representations, and therefore go against the Will.

 

 

So what can we do about it? Schopenhauer’s solution is simple, yet elegant. According to Schopenhauer, the more logically inclined we are, the more we suffer because we are striving against the Will. He then searches for tranquility and tries to find at least one thing in which we can work WITH the will. He finds this through what is called aesthetic perception. Now, this is not “I’ll draw a pretty picture,” it’s more complicated than that. In order to be at peace, we must first appreciate the one-ness of everyday objects. For instance, in looking at an apple tree, you can see the apples, logically go through the process of photosynthesis (god, I hated high school biology), or you can just stand there and appreciate it for what it is. Don’t analyze it, just accept that it is. That’s right, the less you think, the happier you are. He said that only the artistic genius could really appreciate this and that the only way the normal person could come close to seeing the world as the artist does is by appreciating the art they produce. The arts Schopenhauer says we should come to appreciate are architecture, sculpture, painting and poetry; however he holds music in the highest regard. He says that the other four represent the perception while music is a direct representation of the Will itself. Music is able to tap into feelings themselves better than any of the other four and separates the feeling from the everyday circumstances surrounding it. Basically, a death causes sadness, but music can show sadness apart from what causes it.

 

 

So where does all of this leave morality? Schopenhauer simply says that the way we achieve morality is by eliminating as much conflict as possible. Treat other people with kindness and respect knowing that we are all part of the same Will and that actions based on compassion are moral ones, while actions based on malice and egoism are immoral. By utilizing aesthetic perception and treating each person with compassion the individual will look at the Will and realize its futility. That individual will not fight against the Will. They will reach a state where they realize that life is filled with unfulfilled desires which cause frustration and angst, but that they can minimize that angst by minimizing their desires. But how can I be at peace by minimizing desires, when going against the Will is a source of frustration? Schopenhauer’s answer is that one must go through hell to achieve “transcendence” of the Will. Like the Buddhist realm of “nirvana” it is only by accepting suffering that we can eliminate it.

 

 

So in the end it goes like this: if we look at things logically, we individualize the will, which causes strife, but if we give into the Will, we find ourselves in an endless struggle against and towards nothing. It is only by accepting suffering as a fact can we transcend human existence and eliminate suffering and enter a mystical state. However, if the Will is all-encompassing, then how are we able to transcend it? While Schopenhauer never addressed this problem, it can be assumed that someone who has transcended the Will is a thing-in-itself just like the Will, occupying the same universe.

 

 

Schopenhauer was largely influential, though he is usually overshadowed by the people he inspired. He inspired Nietzsche’s Will-to-Power, Freud’s Id, and countless others. Schopenhauer's historical profile is frequently obscured by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Mill, Darwin and Nietzsche, but more than is usually recognized, in his rejection of rationalistic conceptions of the world as early as 1818, he perceived the shape of things to come. As the world plunged into war in the early 20th century, strife, angst, and a rejection of rationality was pervasive, but Schopenhauer had seen it almost 100 years earlier. In the realm of music, we can see Johannes Brahms, Antonín Dvorak, Gustav Mahler, Hans Pfitzner, Sergei Prokofiev, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakoff, Arnold Schonberg, and Richard Wagner all influenced by Schopenhauer. When anyone talks of the world of absurd, nihilistic or existence as futile, we can see that Schopenhauer was the first to write about it as such.

 

 

On a side note, Schopenhauer is often said to have been influenced by Buddhism. It is unclear whether or not he came to these conclusions before he read Buddhist doctrine or after, buthe acknowledges Buddhism in his book The World as Will and Representation, and even claims to be a Buddhist. However there are a few differences. First, he replaces the Buddhist Eightfold Path with a twofold path to lose the Will and achieve tranquility:

1. Personal experience of an extremely great suffering that leads to loss of the will to live; or

2. Knowledge of the essential nature of life in the world through observation of the suffering of other people.

And second, the state of tranquility arrived at by Schopenhauer is vastly different from the Buddhist Nirvana.

 

 

Books by Schopenhauer

  • 1813, Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde (On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason)
  • 1816, Über das Sehn und die Farben (On Vision and Colors)
  • 1819 [1818], Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (The World as Will and Representation) [first edition, one volume]
  • 1836, Über den Willen in der Natur (On the Will in Nature)
  • 1839, “Über die Freiheit des menschlichen Willens” (“On Freedom of the Human Will”)
  • 1840, “Über die Grundlage der Moral” (“On the Basis of Morality”)
  • 1841 [1840], Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik (The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics) [joint publication of the 1839 and 1840 essays in book form]
  • 1844, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (The World as Will and Representation) [second edition, two volumes]
  • 1847, Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde (On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason) [second edition, revised]
  • 1851, Parerga und Paralipomena
  • 1859, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (The World as Will and Representation) [third edition, two volumes]

If anyone has anything to add, feel free.

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Lk, I won't pretend to be an expert on Nietzsche, as I've only read Thus Spoke Zarathustra. However, within my copy (different translations maybe?) Zarathustra seems to believe that loving humanity is a major part of the path to the Overman. Insight on how this ties in with the slave/master moralities would be fantastic.

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