Dugin notes, 4th Political Theory

I have my questions about his larger project, but his analyses of modernity and postmodernism are simply too good to ignore.

Birth of a Concept

  1. Three Ideologies
    1. Liberalism: the individual is the normative subject (this includes both free market capitalism and the Democratic Party.  I am using “liberal” in a non-perjorative sense).
    2. Fascism: race or nation is normative subject
    3. Communism: Class
      The second and third options failed, leaving liberalism in charge.  Without any alternatives, liberalism is the norm.
    4. 4th political theory: Dasein is the acting subject.  We will explain more on this later.
  2. Postmodernism
    1. Global Market Society
      1. Globalism
      2. Technology
    2. Kingdom of Antichrist
  3. Heidegger and the Event
    1. The ancient greeks confused the nuances between pure being (Seyn) and a being (Seinende).
    2. Nihilism and the event
      1. The “Nothing” is the flip side of being and paradoxically reminds one of Being’s existence.
      2. Event: the sudden return of being.

Dasein as Actor

  1. What is the nature of freedom?
    1. Classical Liberals defined freedom as “freedom from.”  There should be no ties on an individual’s will.  
      1. It is these individuals, acting alone but taken as a whole, who form the circle of liberal action.
      2. Lacking a telos by definition, liberalism is hard-pressed to explain what we have freedom for.
    2. All political theories have an acting subject.
  2. Dasein as subject.
    1. Dasein is a way to overcome the subject-object duality.  It is inzwichen, the “between.”
  3. Hidden Racisms
    1. Is “progress” racist? Maybe.  Progressive societies have an implicit judgment that other societies, who do not hold such views, are inferior.
    2. The only true human rights are those enshrined by global capitalism, democracy, individualism.
  4. Ethnos: A community of language
    1. Racist societies, whether Nazis or American neo-liberals, reduce society to a concept like race, blood, market.
    2. A better reduction, if reduction it is, is language.
      1. Language allows for an “accommodating landscape” (Gumilev).  It is the matrix of a “Life-world” (Husserl).
      2. Ethnicities generate the criteria by which they are judged (Dugin 48).
    3. The village-state is an alternative to the metropolis.

Critique of the Monotonic Process

Liberal ideology is necessarily evolutionary.  The concept of progress takes one from barbarism to technologism and the more refined way of life of the markets.

Monotonic process: the idea of constant growth, accumulation, steady progress by only one specific indicator (60).  In other words, in a system only one value (x) grows.  Only one thing (or a small group of things) accumulates.  Applied to either machines or biological life, this is death.  

The Gift

In traditional societies surplus was always sacrificed or given away. Thus, festivals.

Nietzsche: if there is growth in life, the movement towards logos, then the balance of the nocturnal Dionysian world exists as well (65). 

Modern political options have all seen progress and time in a linear fashion.  Even more so, because of time there must naturally be progress. By contrast, Dugin suggests that

T1: Time is a social phenomenon with its structures arising from social paradigms (68).

By this he wants to safeguard the idea that there can be “interruptions” and reversals in the flow of time.  History does not simply teach the march of capitalism upon earth (borrowing and adapting Hegel’s phrase).

Nevertheless, and perhaps unaware, Dugin remains close to the linear view.  He does note that time is “historical” (70) and from that draws a very important, Heideggerian conclusion:  it cannot be objective.

Why not? The acting subject, the historical observer (whom we will call “Dasein,” but this is true also of the individual in liberalism) is finite.  He doesn’t have a god’s-eye view on history.

Of course, that’s not to say it can’t be real or reliable per the observer, but we don’t have the Enlightenment’s dream of a god’s-eye application of reason to reality.

Global Transition and its enemies

  1. What is the New World Order?
    1. It is a “universalism of free market economics, political democracy, and the ideology of human rights” (71).
    2. From the American point of view: a strong imperial core with the periphery divided and fragmented.
      1. Creation of multilateral unipolarity.
      2. Promotion of accelerated globalism and swift de-sovereignisation of nation states in favor of a global United States.
    3. Global democracy is a self-generating virus (Stephen Mann).
  2. The World Order from a non-American point of view

Conservatism and Postmodernity

Paradoxes of Freedom

  1. Liberal freedom in action is the freedom to choose TV stations.
    1. If I am “free,” am I free to say no?  Can I say “no” to freedom?
    2. Liberalism cannot allow this, which means there is no alternative to it.
  2. Df. conservatism = repudiation of the logic of history.  True conservatism means that history isn’t necessarily moving towards a moment of universal global markets.
    1. Fundamental Conservatism: Traditionalism (86ff).
      1. Opposes “time.”  Specifically, it does not accept the argument that progress is necessarily good.
    2. Status quo conservatism: liberal conservatism.
      1. It is liberal in that it says yes to modernity, “but at each stage it attempts to step on the breaks” (91).
    3. Left Wing Conservatism (Social Conservatism)
    4. Eurasianism: an umbrella of subordinate conservatisms
      1. There is no single historical process.  
      2. Every nation has its own historical model and moves in its own rhythm. 

Transformation of the Left in the twenty first century

  1. The Leftist Philosophy in Crisis: three varieties
    1. Old Left: 
      1. Orthodox Marxists.
        1. Stuck in concepts anchored in the Industrial Revolution.  Really couldn’t adapt to hyper-technological ages.
        2. Fundamentally wrong about historical dialectic.
      2. Social Democracy: 
        1. Income tax, government in the private sector, free medicine; traditional “liberal” mores.
        2. Social Justice + Market expansion
    2. Left Nationalists
    3. New Left: anti-globalism, postmodern, post-human
      1. Utilized Marxist analysis of ideology as “false consciousness” to explain society, philosophy, economy.
      2. Bourgeois society is a result of superstructures.

Ontology of the Future

  1. Three ecstasies of time (Heidegger).  Normally, we would say that the future “lacks the most being.”
    1. Immediacy (there is/there is not)
    2. Documentary (there was/there was not)
    3. Probabilistic (there will be/there will be not)
  2. Perception and Being: Kant denied that by mere perception we have access to the thing-in-itself.
    1. Therefore, if the being of the present is put in doubt, then all three moments become ontologically unproveable.
    2. From the perspective of pure reason, the future is the phenomenon, and hence, it is (157). 
    3. Kant puts time nearer to the subject and space nearer to the object.
      1. Therefore, time is subject-ive.  
      2. It is the transcendental subject that installs time in the perception of the object.
    4. Time is like music (Husserl); the resonance lingers.
      1. The future is continuous in the present.
      2. The future is the tail-end of the present.
    5. Consciousness
      1. That which is beneath the level that the nature of time is perceived.
      2. In the present consciousness perceives itself and nothing else.
    6. Short circuit:  perception of pure being as the presence of the subjectivity of consciousness. Transcendental subjectivity (158).
      1. Causes all kinds of dualities to be born.
      2. The creation of time stops this trauma.
      3. “Intentionality and logical judgments are all rooted in this evasion of the perception of pain of the void whereby consciousness becomes aware of itself” (158).
        1. Pure presence of the same is unbearable.
        2. Time constitutes consciousness running from the unbearable confrontation with itself.
    7. Initial Conclusions
      1. Time precedes the object.
      2. The world is created by time (or time through God)
        1. Time’s manifestation is as self-aware subjectivity.
        2. The future is predefined by the structure of the subject.
      3. Organizing time: circular, traditional, material.
    8. Society and Time
      1. Every society is a separate act of consciousness in temporal and rational horizons.
        1. Every society has its own history.
        2. Thus, time is rooted in geography.
        3. Thus, globalization, in canceling out traditional differences, erases time.
          1. Therefore, with no time, the “short circuit would grow exponentially without the possibility of being dissipated.
          2. Cataclysm.

Cambridge Companion to Husserl

Smith, Barry and Smith, David Woodruff. Eds. The Cambridge Companion to Husserl. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Husserl is interesting because he was a continental philosopher who believed in universals and a mathematician who rejected later analytic approaches. His thought never achieved the profundity of a Hegel nor the clarity of a Russell.  Nonetheless, his comments on intentionality and essences have potential for a huge pay off in the mind-body problem debate.

Intro and Terminology

Phenomenology: deals with acts of consciousness in which objects are given or experienced (Smith and Smith 3).

Psychologism: the attempt to conceive all sub-disciplines of philosophy as branches of empirical psychology.

Functionalism: the mind is the software to the brain’s hardware.  Husserl would have rejected this (10).

Intentionality: this is the most important of Husserl’s concepts. It is the of-ness.  We are always thinking “of something,” conscious of something. Most importantly, it is not a spatial relation.  There is no “of-ness” you can touch.

Noema: “The sum total of what is thought or meant of an object in an act” (Hintikka 88). Each noema “has a kernel or nucleus which consists of three elements: a substratum, a set of qualitative moments, and modes of fulfillment of these qualities” (Simons 127).

Epoche: we bracket everything in the noema which is not given to us in immediate experience.

Key point: “we grasp in phenomenological reflection that consciousness is intentional in the sense of being directed towards an object: consciousness is consciousness of something” (11).

Knowledge

Knowledge entails fulfilment.  Fulfillment is knowing as finding.  It is the process of “getting a better view” (Willard 146).  We have a structure of the act of knowing: a sequence of representations of the same object in an arrangement of greater “closeness.”

Imagine it this way: you are walking down the road and you see what looks like a tree in the distance.  The closer you get, the more “fulfillment” obtains. You see that it is indeed a tree. Of course, most knowledge-cases are far more complex than this.

The Knowledge Act

A sign appears before me.  This can be an image, word, or physical object.  It exemplifies the property (concept) “to which it directs us” (141). The sign is “given” before us and it  tends beyond itself. We can think of it this way. When I see a tree, the tree is not *in* my mind. It tends towards my mind and my mind reaches out towards it.  This is the process of fulfillment.

Most non-postmodernists hold to some form of representational thinking. Husserl would say these representations “Merely intend a content or object” (145).  Therefore, the act of knowing is a sequence of representations. 

Essences

Herman Philipse has a learned chapter arguing that Husserl was not a metaphysical realist, but a transcendental idealist.  I lean towards the realist view, but Philipse makes a number of pointed criticism of traditional Aristotelian thought. One of Husserl’s initial problems was he held to some form of naturalist empiricism.  However, one cannot be both an idealist and a naturalist. You can’t say the world is constituted by our consciousness, yet have our consciousness dependent on part of the world.

I agree with idealists in that mind is the basis of matter.  They just confuse our minds with God’s.

Some metaphysical schemes just don’t work with modern science.  “Because Descartes identified matter and extension, his physics excluded the possibility of a vacuum” (Philipse 291). Enter Pascal’s experiments that barometers implied a vacuum.   Further, it isn’t necessarily true that all scientific laws are a priori and purely rational–science is empirical and hypothetical.

Mind-Body

The body is “the carrier of the point of orientation,” the “zero point” which plays “an important role in the constitution of the spatial world” (65). It is the field of my free volition. It is what Dallas Willard calls “our personal power pack.”

David Woodruff Smith argues that Husserl’s ontology is a “monism of substrata and a pluralism of essences” (Smith 323).  Within this monism there appear to me many moments of consciousness. This substrata is the realm of essence. It is a monism because consciousness is spread out, yet not divided up, in the form of a “stream of experiences” (339).  Each experience is intentional. That is the dualism.

Some remaining problems

How much of a Kantian was Husserl?  Pinning down his transcendental idealism is fraught with danger. I don’t think he went the Berkeleyan route and said we create the physical world (if indeed Berkeley said that).  Jaako Hintikka suggests, rather, that for Husserl there was an “interface” of consciousness and reality (Hintikka 82). If we explore Husserl’s thought further, his claim is much stronger.  There is a “level of consciousness in which reality forces itself on us, which is the interface (not to say overlap) of reality and consciousness” (89).

That last sentence is a warning on spiritual warfare.  When we read something, it is a reality that presents itself, even forces itself, upon our consciousness.  If someone was inspired by a demon, say like Crowley, then your mind is in contact with a demon’s mind.

 

Notes on Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations

I’ve only read half of this so far.  I couldn’t finish it because I borrowed it from a library.  I’ll get to it later.

Cartesian Ego: subject of pure cogitation.  All principles are innate in the pure Ego.

Evidence: it is an experiencing of something that is, and is thus. It is a mental seeing.

Epoche: the radical method by which I apprehend myself purely

Transcendental Heading: Ego Cogito.  Each conscious process means something or other and bears with it its own cogitatum.  The ego is concrete only in the “endlessly open universality of his connectedly unitary intentional life” (38).

Intentionality: thoughts are always thoughts about something.

Transcendental Time: “every subjective process has its own internal temporality” (41). If we take an object as it appears to us, we have to distinguish between the objective temporality that appears from the internal temporality of its appearing (this is our perceiving of it, as it “flows away”).  Our consciousness takes the two temporalities into a synthetic unity. What I think Husserl is trying to do is allow for both subjectivity and objectivity. The knowing subject, a la Kant, is always operative, yet that doesn’t negate the inherent objectivity of a thing.

 internal time: subjective processes.

Consciousness of internal time: modes of temporal appearance; multiplicities.

 

Review: Thinking in Tongues

This is from James KA Smith’s earlier days, before he became NPR’s token Christian thinker.  This book is actually good, which pains me to say.  Smith seems unbalanced in many ways since writing this book.  I think it is Trumpphobia or something.

Thesis: Pentecostal worldview offers a distinct way of being-in-the-world (Smith 25). Embodied practices carry within them a “tacit understanding” (27).

Is a Pentecostal Philosophy Possible?

Much of the chapter deals with the relationship between theology and philosophy.   The difference is one of field, not “faith basis” (Smith 4).  Smith gives us Five Aspects of a Pentecostal Philosophy:

  1. radical openness to God, or God’s doing something fresh.  
  2. An “enchanted” theology of creation and culture.   Smith means that we see reality not as self-enclosed monads, but realizing that principalities and powers are often behind these.  this entails spiritual warfare.  I cringe at terms like “enchanted” because it’s more postmodern non-speak, but Smith (likely inadvertently) connected “enchanted” with demons, which is correct.
  3. A nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and spirituality.  Smith defines “dualism” as not denigrating materiality.   Fewer and fewer Christians today do this, so I am not sure whom his target is.  Even chain-of-being communions like Rome that officially denigrate embodiment say they really don’t mean it.
  4. Affective, narrative epistemology.   
  5. Eschatological orientation towards mission and justice.

God’s Surprise

Some hermeneutics: Smith rightly notes that “The Last Days” (per Acts 2) is connected with “today” ( 22; we accept this model in eschatology but abandon it in pneumatology).  Smith wryly notes that Acts 2:13 is the first proto-Daniel Dennett hermeneutics:  offering a naturalistic explanation for inexplicable phenomena (23).   

Following Martin Heidegger, Smith suggests two kinds of knowing: wissen and verstehen, justified, true belief and understanding.  The latter is tacit and is at the edges of conscious action.

Per the dis-enchanted cosmos, Smith astutely points out that “There is a deep sense that multiple modes of oppression–from illness to poverty–are in some way the work of forces that are not just natural” (41).  In other words, spiritual warfare assumes a specific, non-reductionist cosmology.

Promising Suggestions

“What characterizes narrative knowledge?” (65)  

  1. a connection between narrative and emotions
    1. Narratives work in an affective manner
    2. The emotions worked are themselves already construals of the world
  2. There is a “fit” between narrative and emotion

There is a good section on Pauline-pneumatological accounts of knowing (68ff).  Anticipating Dooyeweerd, Paul critiques the pretended autonomy of theoretical thought (Rom. 1:21-31; 1 Cor. 1:18-2:16) and that the Spirit grants access to the message as “true.”  

While I found his chapter on epistemology inadequate, he does say that we know from the “heart” as embodied, rational beings (58).  This isn’t new to postmodernism, but is standard Patristic epistemology.  

A Pentecostal Ontology

This section could have been interesting.  Smith wants to argue that pentecostalism sees an open ontology that allows the Spirit to move from within nature, rather than a miracle that is “tacked on” to nature from the outside.  He makes this argument because he wants pentecostalism to line up with the insights from Radical Orthodoxy.

I have between 50-75 pentecostal relatives who “embody pentecostal spirituality.”  I promise you that none of them think like this or are even capable of thinking like that.  I do not disparge them, simply because I am not to sure Smith’s project at this point is really coherent.  He wants to reject methodological naturalism (rightly) but argues for his own version of supernatural naturalism.

If Smith is successful, then he can show that pentecostalism lines up with quantum mechanics.  Okay.  Thus, nature is “en-Spirited” (103).  While I have problems with his “suspended materiality” ontology, Smith makes some interesting points: miracles are not “add-ons.”  They are not anti-nature, since “nature is not a discrete, autonomous entity” (104).  

That’s good.  I like it.

Tongues as speech-act.

We are considering “tongue-speech” as a liminal case in the philosophy of language (122).  Exegetical discussions are important (and ultimately determinative), but we can’t enter them here.  Smith wants to argue that tongues (T₁) resists our current categories of language and emerges as resistance to cultural norms.  I think there is something to that.

 T₁ as Phenomenology

There is a difference between signs as expression (Ausdruck) and those that do not mean anything (indications, Anzeigen).  Ausdruck is important as it means something, whereas Anzeigen serves as a pointer (127, Smith is following E. Husserl).  Husserl even notes that there can be signs that are not Ausdrucken nor Anzeigen.  This turns on the question: can signs which do not express anything nor point to anything be modes of communication?  

As many critics of Husserl note, his account of speech links communication with intention, so he has to answer “no” to the above question.  Or maybe so.  What kind of speech can there be that is not bound up with inter-subjective indication?  Husserl (and Augustine!) suggest the interior mental life.  Thus, signs in this case would not point to what is absent.  

Tongues as Speech-Act Attack

Utterances (of any sort) are performative.  While such utterance-acts do convey thoughts, sometimes their intent is far more. Let’s take tongues-speak as ecstatic, private language.  What does the pray-er mean to do?  We can easily point to an illocutionary act of praying in groans too deep for words.  We can also see a perlocutionary act: God should act in response.

Tongues as Politics

Oh boy.  Smith wants to say that tongues is a speech-act against the powers that be.  I like that.  I really do.  I just fear that Smith is going to mislocate the powers.  He begins by drawing upon neo-Marxist insights (147). However, without kowtowing fully to Marx, he does point out that Marx has yielded the historical stage to the Holy Ghost.

Tongues-speech begins as “the language of the dispossessed” (149).  This, too, is a valid sociological insight.  The chapter ends without Smith endorsing Marxism, which I expected him to do.  While we are on a charismatic high, I will exercise my spiritual gift of Discerning the Spirits.”  The reason that many 3rd World Pentecostals are “dispossessed” is because they are in countries whose leaders serve the demonic principality of Marxist-Socialism.  Let’s attack that first before we get on the fashionable anti-capitalism bandwagon.

(No, am not a capitalist.  At least not in the sense that Smith uses the word)

*Smith, as is usual with most postmodernists, gets on the “narrative” bandwagon.  There’s a place for that, but I think narrative is asked to carry more than it can bear.  In any case, it is undeniable that Pentecostals are good storytellers.  Smith wants to tie this in with epistemology, but he omits any discussion from Thomas Reid concerning testimony as basic belief, which would have strengthened his case.

Possible Criticisms

Smith (rightly) applauds J. P. Moreland’s recent embrace of kingdom power, but accuses Moreland of still being a “rationalist” (6 n14, 13n26).  Precisely how is Moreland wrong and what is the concrete alternative?  Smith criticizes the rationalist project as “‘thinking’ on a narrow register of calculation and deduction” (54).  Whom is he criticizing: Christians or non-Christians?  It’s not clear, and in any case Moreland has come under fire for saying there are extra-biblical, non-empirical sources of knowledge and reality (angels, demons, etc).  

Smith then argues that all rationalities are em-bodied rationalities.  That’s fine.  I don’t think this threatens a Reidian/Warrant view of knowledge.  Perhaps it does threaten K=JTB.  I don’t know, since Smith doesn’t actually make the argument.  Smith makes a good argument on the “heart’s role” in knowing, yet Moreland himself has a whole chapter on knowing and healing from the heart in The Lost Virtue of Happiness (Moreland 2006).

Smith elsewhere identifies aspects of rationality as the logics of “power, scarcity, and consumption,” (84) but I can’t think of a serious philosopher who actually espouses this.

Elsewhere, Smith says Christian philosophy should be “Incarnational” and not simply theistic (11).  What does that even mean?  Does it simply mean “Begin with Jesus”?  Does it mean undergirding ontology with the Incarnation, per Col. 1:17?  That’s actually quite promising, but I don’t think Smith means that, either.  So what does he mean?

Is Smith a coherentist?  I think he is.  He hints at good criticisms of secularism, but points out “that the practices and plausibility structures that sustain pentecostal (or Reformed or Catholic or Baptist or Moonie–JBA) have their own sort of ‘logic’,” a logic that allows Christians to play, too (35).  But even if coherentism holds–and I grant that Smith’s account is likely true, it doesn’t prove coherentism is true.  All coherentism can prove is doxastic relations among internal beliefs, but not whether these beliefs are true.  Of course, Smith would probably say I am a rationalist.

In his desire to affirm materiality, Smith seems to say that any religious materiality is a good materiality.  Smith approvingly notes of Felicite’s clinging to feasts and relics (36).  It’s hard to see how any one “Materiality” could be bad on Smith’s account.  But this bad account is juxtaposed with some good observations on the book of Acts (38) and tries to connect the two.

*Smith says that “postmodernism takes race, class, and gender seriously” because it takes the body seriously (60).  This is 100% false.  If facebook is a true incarnation (!) of postmodernity, may I ask how many “gender/sexual preference” options facebook has?  I rest my case.

*Smith waxes eloquently on the Pentecostal “aesthetic” (80ff), which is basically a repeat of his other works, but one must ask, “How does faith come per Romans 10?”

*Smith doesn’t miss an opportunity to criticize “rationalism” for separating beliefs and faith/practice, yet Smith himself seems mighty critical of those who focus on “beliefs” in their philosophy of religion (111).  Sure, most post-Descartes philosophy of religion is overy intellectual, but I do think the Reidian/Plantingian Epistemology model, integrates belief and faith-practice.

 

Husserl: Crisis Phenomenology

I am not enough of an expert to comment whether this is a good introduction to Husserl. It is, however, a good preparation to reading Husserl’s student Martin Heidegger. Husserl also introduces the reader to numerous key moves in phenomenology which have payoff potential in later discussions of philosophy of mind. Nonetheless, many of Husserl’s ideas are undeveloped.

Phenomenology is a study of essences only. Essences belong to the ideal sphere and are grasped in intuition. Absolute knowledge is contained in the phenomena. Phen. reveals essences and reverses the standard correspondence theory model. The real world corresponds to true thought. It reveals consciousness. Husserl’s goal: overcome the wall of separation between being and consciousness (47).

Husserl’s most important moment is his discussion of intentionality. Intentionality is to give meaning to an expression. It is a movement of consciousness towards something; thus, it is objective (109). When we perceive an object, we perceive it in its givenness-to-us. What I think Husserl means is that the object’s essence is related to its being a determinate object (114). At this early point in Husserl’s career it seems he is positing a real relation (and relation is a category of essence) between object and perception. As the editor comments in a footnote, to know the thought is to know what is thought about.

Improving upon Descartes: the cogitatum is given with the same immediacy as the cogito itself. Thus, there is an intentionality to consciousness (59). To be is to be-given-to-consciousness. The essential is the ideal, and the ideal is located in acts of consciousness. Therefore, subjectivity = objectivity.

Husserl ends with a lecture on the crisis of European man. It’s interesting, though he doesn’t advance any substantial ideas. The book isn’t perfect but it does contain valuable insights. In short, I wonder how natural bracketing out ideas in an epoch really is. If an object is an object in its givenness-to-us, then what exactly does the epoch advance?