What are you thinking about? - Page 4833

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    Laughing at the conversation I'm going to have when our youngest eventually asks me why we nicknamed him Moonshine.

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    Last edited by LittleDreamer; 08-26-2017 at 05:28 PM. Reason: Maybe we all have our own truth

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    A brief musing with unclear conclusion/direction, suppose just want to give some thoughts and do with what you will ^_^
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleDreamer View Post
    I was thinking truth, but peace works too. I know, I know, it sounds contradictory to some, but maybe peace is "the truth"?

    ...that or I'm confused on where I stand
    Well truth is a tricky thing, especially considering many theorizations of it entirely neglect a actively perceiving subject which is dismissed as a mirror of reality.
    Thinking and Being: Lacan versus Parmenides | Philosophical Explorations
    The correspondence theory utilizes a mirror model between subject and world; the removal of the mirror leaves us in the dark concerning the real.

    The second reason for Lacan’s rejection of the adequation theory is the elimination of the subjective dimension of truth. It assumes that the knowing subject is self-transparent. What is the difference between a proposition “p” and “p is true”? Against deflationary theories of truth, which claim that there is no difference, one can argue that the second proposition, “p is true” is a proposition about a proposition: it adds not more content, but another dimension. This dimension is no longer independent from the subject. Whereas traditional theories of truth only consider the polar opposites true/false, Lacan considers the opposition truth/lie. The reason for his emphasis on the “I am lying” example is exactly this: If one only thinks of the relationship between concept and reality for the question of truth, as the adequation theory does, then one has already foreclosed the dimension where the question of truth gains its relevance for us: the human dimension. Subsequently, on the level of concept/reality alone, the “I am lying” becomes a paradox, because “I” can only be understood as an entity that thinks: being has ontological priority. (This is the shadow of Parmenides.) The contradiction dissolves if one separates “I” from being; the separation shifts the dimension of truth from concept/reality to subject/Other (understood as the locus of the signifier) or to the relationship subject/language. In order to gain such a two-dimensional view of the concept of “truth” one has to accept the priority of the signifier in relation to the signified as a well as in relation to the subject.

    Representatives of the adequatio theory realized that although truth is always truth for somebody, it cannot be subjective. They argue that the subject has to be excluded from the definition of truth because we live in a common reality (the facts of the world are the same for all of us). The exclusion of the subject is done with the assumption that the mind – as mirror – is self-transparent and that the subject in its particularity can be separated from the epistemic process. Because human consciousness can be self-referential it is easy to assume that the “I” is identical with itself; the next step is the subtraction of the subject from the equation of truth, even if it is the subject that enunciates the truth-statement. For Lacan, then, the correspondence theory hides the deeper split between the subject and the real as well as the split within the subject itself. What remains is the construction of a common reality.
    And this is where an idea of truth is really interesting because truth has a subjective element to it and many who preclude subjectivity in epistemology necessarily have a inadequate sense of what truth is.
    Two questions are obviously confused here: 1) Is there such a thing as objective truth, that is, can human ideas have a content that does not depend on a subject, that does not depend either on a human being, or on humanity? 2) If so, can human ideas, which give expression to objective truth, express it all at one time, as a whole, unconditionally, absolutely, or only approximately, relatively? This second question is a question of the relation of absolute truth to relative truth.
    The key question thus concerns the exact STATUS of this externality: is it simply the externality of an impartial “objective” scientist who, after studying history and establishing that, in the long run, the working class has a great future ahead, decides to join the winning side? So when Lenin says “The theory of Marx is all-powerful, because it is true,” everything depends on how we understand “truth” here: is it a neutral “objective knowledge,” or the truth of an engaged subject? Lenin’s wager — today, in our era of postmodern relativism, more actual than ever — is that universal truth and partisanship, the gesture of taking sides, are not only not mutually exclusive, but condition each other: in a concrete situation, its UNIVERSAL truth can only be articulated from a thoroughly PARTISAN position — truth is by definition one-sided. (This, of course, goes against the predominant doxa of compromise, of finding a middle path among the multitude of conflicting interests.) Why not, then, shamelessly and courageously ENDORSE the boring standard reproach according to which, Marxism is a “secularized religion,” with Lenin as the Messiah, etc.? Yes, assuming the proletarian standpoint IS EXACTLY like making a leap of faith and assuming a full subjective engagement for its Cause; yes, the “truth” of Marxism is perceptible only to those who accomplish this leap, NOT to any neutral observers. What the EXTERNALITY means here is that this truth is nonetheless UNIVERSAL, not just the “point-of-view” of a particular historical subject: “external” intellectuals are needed because the working class cannot immediately perceive ITS OWN PLACE within the social totality which enables it to accomplish its “mission” — this insight has to be mediated through an external element.
    We therefore reject every attempt to impose on us any moral dogma whatsoever as an eternal, ultimate and for ever immutable ethical law on the pretext that the moral world, too, has its permanent principles which stand above history and the differences between nations. We maintain on the contrary that all moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed. That in this process there has on the whole been progress in morality, as in all other branches of human knowledge, no one will doubt. But we have not yet passed beyond class morality. A really human morality which stands above class antagonisms and above any recollection of them becomes possible only at a stage of society which has not only overcome class antagonisms but has even forgotten them in practical life. And now one can gauge Herr Dühring’s presumption in advancing his claim, from the midst of the old class society and on the eve of a social revolution, to impose on the future classless society an eternal morality independent of time and changes in reality. Even assuming — what we do not know up to now — that he understands the structure of the society of the future at least in its main outlines.
    Because truths that are abstract rather than more concrete typically hide ideological/class interests in having people focus on an appearance/idea to the neglect of its relation to the world, though often this tension is felt when people are confronted with the contradictions.

    And this is where a sort of partisanship can arise where one rejects certain sympathies which assert a universality through their particulars. Those whose sense of the world asserts that which is clearly in the interest and reflection of a capitalist class than it is of the workers in all their strata.

    To which there can be idea of the role of violence, in some ethical form, even in a pacifist religion like Mahayana Buddhism, it leaves room to justify violence which is used to defend and thus stop relentless violence. Because allowing people to be harmed isn't non-violence, because you allow violence through another agent. And there can be deep questions to what amount of violence is used in one's defense because it can be the case that no matter the conditions, people see themselves under threat, victims that must assert themselves. One can't rely on empty maxims of violence as always justified nor not justified. Violence itself isn't created equal, the partisan nature shows itself when some people see the policeman justified whilst others see them illegitimate.
    Is there in general a limit beyond which a deviation, forced by extreme circumstances, from the abstract general norms of humaneness in the name of and for the sake of the triumph of a concretely and historically understood humanism is transformed into - in full agreement with the laws of the dialectic - a crime against the very goal for the sake of which the act was undertaken? To speak more to the point, can this fatal limit be determined, for it always exists somewhere or the other? In actuality this border forms the great divide between the authentic communism of Marx, Engels and Lenin and those “left” doctrines which interpret Marxist moral formula as indicating that “all is permitted.” It is one matter to understand that violence and murder are inevitable actions summoned by the extreme circumstances accompanying the deadly battle of the classes, actions to which the revolutionary must resort, recognizing fully their inhumanity. It is quite another matter, to look upon these activities as the optimal, the safest and even the only methods of establishing “happiness” on Earth. Both Marx and Lenin morally approved violence only in the most extreme circumstances, and then, only on the minimal scale, that which is absolutely necessary.

    Lenin wrote that Communists are opposed to violence against people in general and they resort to coercion only when it is imposed upon them by authentic admirers of violence. The only justification for violence is as a means of opposing violence, as violence against the violent, but not as a means of influencing the will of the majority of the working people.

    Therefore Communists are never the initiators of actions such as war or the “export of revolution” at the point of the bayonet. Lenin always categorically and consistently opposed “left” ideas of this type. In his understanding the scientific spirit of communism is always inseparably connected with the principle of humaneness in the direct sense of the word.

    This also forms the principal difference between Lenin and those doctrinaires who allow themselves the pleasure of cynically counting up the number of human lives “worth” paying for the victory of world communism. ... As a rule such calculations in today’s world are the occupation of people characterized by primitivity both in terms of theory and in their moral profile. ‘

    In order to resolve the problem of uniting high moral standards with a maximum of the scientific spirit, the problem must first of all be viewed in all of the acuity and dialectical complexity which it has acquired in the difficult and tumultuous time we live in. A simple algebraic solution will not do. The problem of the relationship between morality and the scientific spirit has been resolved only in the most general fashion by Marxist philosophy. In concrete situations, on the other hand, it will occur again and again in the foreseeable future; each time it will have a new and unexpected twist. Therefore there can be no simple or ready-made solution for each individual occurrence of the conflict between the “mind” and the “conscience.”

    There can be no simple prescription or mathematical formula capable of meeting every occasion. If you run into a conflict of this nature, do not assume that in each instance “science” is correct and “conscience” rubbish, or at best a fairy tale for children. The opposite is no closer to the truth, namely that “moral sentiment” is always correct, that science, if it runs into conflict with the former is the heartless and brutal “devil” of Ivan Karamazov, engendering types like Smerdyakov. Only through a concrete examination of the causes of the conflict itself may we find a dialectical resolution, that is to say, the wisest and the most humane solution. Only thus may we find, to phrase it in current jargon, the “optimal variant” of correspondence between the demands of the intellect and of the conscience.

    To be sure finding a concrete, dialectical unity between the principles of mind and conscience in each instance is not an easy matter. Unfortunately there is no magic wand, there is no simple algorithm, either of a “scientific” or a “moral” nature.
    One has to try and reconcile the state of things as they are concretely with high ethical ideals and the highest ethical ideals lead to radical conclusions.
    Slavoj Zizek - Robespierre or the "Divine Violence" of Terror
    To break the yoke of habits means: if all men are equal, than all men are to be effectively treated as equal; if blacks are also human, they should be immediately treated as such. Recall the early stages of the struggle against slavery in the US, which, even prior to the Civil War, culminated in the armed conflict between the gradualism of compassionate liberals and the unique figure of John Brown:

    African Americans were caricatures of people, they were characterized as buffoons and minstrels, they were the butt-end of jokes in American society. And even the abolitionists, as antislavery as they were, the majority of them did not see African Americans as equals. The majority of them, and this was something that African Americans complained about all the time, were willing to work for the end of slavery in the South but they were not willing to work to end discrimination in the North. /.../ John Brown wasn't like that. For him, practicing egalitarianism was a first step toward ending slavery. And African Americans who came in contact with him knew this immediately. He made it very clear that he saw no difference, and he didn't make this clear by saying it, he made it clear by what he did. [11]

    For this reason, John Brown is the KEY political figure in the history of US: in his fervently Christian "radical abolitionism," he came closest to introducing the Jacobin logic into the US political landscape: "John Brown considered himself a complete egalitarian. And it was very important for him to practice egalitarianism on every level. /.../ He made it very clear that he saw no difference, and he didn't make this clear by saying it, he made it clear by what he did." [12] Today even, long after slavery was abolished, Brown is the dividing figure in American collective memory; those whites who support Brown are all the more precious - among them, surprisingly, Henry David Thoreau, the great opponent of violence: against the standard dismissal of Brown as blood-thirsty, foolish and insane, Thoreau [13] painted a portrait of a peerless man whose embracement of a cause was unparalleled; he even goes as far as to liken Brown's execution (he states that he regards Brown as dead before his actual death) to Christ. Thoreau vents at the scores of those who have voiced their displeasure and scorn for John Brown: the same people can't relate to Brown because of their concrete stances and "dead" existences; they are truly not living, only a handful of men have lived.
    But such a radical place is not one many of us are necessarily able nor willing to be, though we can still play some part for doing something we find to be good. And whilst there can be a felt sense of crisis, we have to keep our wits about, western liberal democracy has lost its aura of legitimacy in some degree as it's too long been corrupted by capital via lobbying and the illusion that a person's vote is a adequate expression of their political will severely broken.
    And despite all this, it's not guaranteed that things will falter enough for substantial change, or if things really hit the fan that it won't be safeguarded by a reactionary defense that will keeps up in the same essential relations that lead us to such issues.
    And I believe it to also be the case that whilst one should always maintain hope as necessary condition, we should be critical and careful so as not to be drunk purely on emotion. Emotion is exciting and necessary for action, but it shouldn't strictly guide things.
    As one of the earliest organisers of that body, I desire to emphasise also that as a means of creating in the working class the frame of mind necessary to the upbuilding of this new order within the old, we taught, and I have yet seen no reason to reconsider our attitude upon this matter, that the interests of one were the interests of all, and that no consideration of a contract with a section of the capitalist class absolved any section of us from the duty of taking instant action to protect other sections when said sections were in danger from the capitalist enemy. Our attitude always was that in the swiftness and unexpectedness of our action lay our chief hopes of temporary victory, and since permanent peace was an illusory hope until permanent victory was secured, temporary victories were all that need concern us. We realised that every victory gained by the working class would be followed by some capitalist development that in course of time would tend to nullify it, but that until that development was perfect the fruits of our victory would be ours to enjoy, and the resultant moral effect would be of incalculable value to the character and to the mental attitude of our class towards their rulers. It will thus be seen that in our view – and now that I am about to point the moral I may personally appropriate it and call it my point of view – the spirit, the character, the militant spirit, the fighting character of the organisation, was of the first importance. I believe that the development of the fighting spirit is of more importance than the creation of the theoretically perfect organisation; that, indeed, the most theoretically perfect organisation may, because of its very perfection and vastness, be of the greatest possible danger to the revolutionary movement if it tends, or is used, to repress and curb the fighting spirit of comradeship in the rank and file.
    Bourgeois revolutions, like those of the eighteenth century, storm more swiftly from success to success, their dramatic effects outdo each other, men and things seem set in sparkling diamonds, ecstasy is the order of the day – but they are short-lived, soon they have reached their zenith, and a long Katzenjammer [cat’s winge] takes hold of society before it learns to assimilate the results of its storm-and-stress period soberly. On the other hand, proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals – until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out: Hic Rhodus, hic salta! [Here is the rose, here dance!] [NOTE]
    At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality. Perhaps it is one of the great dramas of the leader that he or she must combine a passionate spirit with a cold intelligence and make painful decisions without flinching. Our vanguard revolutionaries must idealize this love of the people, of the most sacred causes, and make it one and indivisible. They cannot descend, with small doses of daily affection, to the level where ordinary people put their love into practice.

    But outside of theorizing, the real change in consciousness comes through action, this is where people learn themselves. Where slaves developed a new consciousness of the world in being able to assert their will.
    Marxism and ethics – International Socialism
    Marx’s ethical judgements therefore relate to real historical struggles for freedom. Specifically, workers’ struggles against exploitation not only provide him with a basis from which he condemns modern society,60 but also expose the limitations of freedom within it. From the “legal standpoint” commodity exchange presupposes nothing more than “the worker’s power to dispose freely of his own capacities, and the money owner or commodity owner’s power to dispose freely of the values that belong to him”. Nonetheless, despite their formal freedoms workers have no control over the means of production. They feel a “silent compulsion” to work for capitalists,61 and factory work itself “confiscates every atom of freedom” from them.62 This is a consequence of the very structure of capitalist production, where Marx recognised a mutual connection between the anarchic relations between units of capital and the despotic relationship between capitalists and workers within the factory.63
    This ethics is not to be confused with abstract morality. There is no standpoint from which we might agree on the “fair distribution of the proceeds of labour”. “Does not the bourgeoisie”, he wrote, “claim that the present-day distribution is ‘just’? And given the present mode of production is it not, in fact, the only ‘just’ system of distribution?”68 To attempt to persuade the bourgeoisie of the injustices of the capitalist system would be to miss the point. What appears unjust from the perspective of workers’ struggles appears perfectly fair from the capitalist’s perspective. This is why the class struggle within bourgeois society manifests itself as a conflict of “right against right”, and that between “equal rights, force decides”.69

    Importantly, Marx claims that the truth of the process of exploitation is obscured so long as it is seen from the point of view of atomised individuals, to become fully apparent only when examined from the point of view of workers’ struggles which hold the key to grasping the totality of the capitalist system:

    To be sure, the matter looks quite different if we consider capitalist production in the uninterrupted flow of its renewal, and if, in place of the individual capitalist and the individual worker, we view them in their totality, as the capitalist class and the working class confronting each other. But in so doing we should be applying standards entirely foreign to commodity production.70

    This claim provides the all-important point of contact between Marx’s scientific, explanatory account of the dynamics of the capitalist mode of production and his normative critique of capitalism. As against the bourgeois separation of “is” and “ought”, these two aspects of Marx’s social theory are best understood as two sides of the same coin: the labour theory of value underpins Marxism both as a social science and as a normative critique. Moreover, this argument provides the key to understanding Marx’s condemnation of morality. He dismisses those moral attitudes which pretend to offer some mechanism through which a universal good might be promoted in a world in which social divisions undermine such a project, and he does this from the point of view of a class based morality which, he believes, is in its purpose genuinely universal in a historical sense.71

    Marxism, therefore, both presupposes and reaffirms the sort of social practice—collective working class struggles—which not only reveals the facts of exploitation but also points to a potential alternative mode of production. As Terry Eagleton argues, “In the critical consciousness of any oppressed group or class, the understanding and the transforming of reality, ‘fact’ and ‘value’, are not separable processes but aspects of the same phenomenon”.72
    LittleDreamer thanked this post.

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    @Wellsy thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Wellsy View Post
    And I believe it to also be the case that whilst one should always maintain hope as necessary condition, we should be critical and careful so as not to be drunk purely on emotion. Emotion is exciting and necessary for action, but it shouldn't strictly guide things.
    Wellsy thanked this post.

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