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October 03, 2005


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Adam Kotsko

As a wise man once said, the internet is useless and needs to be shut down.


Reading this comment was not the first time I laughed out loud today at something funny you'd written...


Me neither.

I've come to the conclusiong that it used to be the "crack for smart people" but it really aspires to be the crack for everypeople, just like that lethally "entertaining" film in _Infinite Jest_.

Virgil Johnson

I remember a professor one time simply explaining Kant's view - if it is too simplistic I confess my simple mindedness. To err on the side of simplicity is to be understood hopefully by most.

He said Kant's view is like the difference between seeing a resume, and really knowing someone. You might know some things about a certain party by looking at a resume, but you do not really "know" the person. This is the existential divide of knowledge. There are no naked facts, we need to know intimately, for herein lies true knowledge.


Nicely done.

Anthony Paul Smith

See, this is why Deleuze always ran out of the cafe!

John S. Ransom

As Jameson says in Marxism "always historicize!" That's how I feel about Kant. This is an old point, I know, but I still agree with it: Kant is better understood less in his own terms than as someone who is trying to come up with a non-religious foundation for morality. I think they ('they' being the Enlightenment as well as its critics) that the decline of religious dominance in moral thought meant more butlers would be stealing more silverware. It was all reason's fault. The only way to defend reason against the charge of nihilism was to come up with a reason-based moral theory. Otherwise we're left with nothing better than the "self-interest properly understood" kind of thinking typical of, say, Alexander Pope's "Essay on Man" or Mandeville's Fable of the Bees. But perhaps I'm misunderstanding the point of Jodi's post.


Hi John,
The post is meant as a parody of a discussion at the Valve yesterday, a discussion that seemed like it was about Sorel, Zizek, and Foucault, but then was about nothing because the author of the post really has no interest in Sorel, Zizek, or Foucault. So, really, the post is about blogging. I'm trying to put one together on Hegel as a blogger.

More seriously, I think Kant only makes sense read through Hegel, on one side, and Nietzsche, on the other. So, I wouldn't quite historicize, I'd retroactively determine!

John S. Ransom

Well Hegel was supposed to be 'discursive' so that might be quite interesting. Of course I guess St. Thomas Aquinas would've been a good one with blogs. Also the confessional Augustine. Not to mention Rousseau! He would've had an orgasm! In fact, he did, only not about this. But he felt bad afterwards. But not de Sade! His conversations were fairly stilted. So to speak. As it were. On many levels. In an overdetermined kind of way.

When I think of the "cause" of Kant, I think, quite traditionally, of Hume.


Of course you do, it's Humean nature...

Forgive me. I know not what I do...

Charles R


There's something interesting that the Sorel-Žižek discussion happens at the same time as the Bennett-racist discussion, as though there is this metaconversation going on about what should be done responsibly with what people write and say.

Well, I guess there is always this metaconversation.

John S. Ransom

Tonight at Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, Italy (and yes I am bragging that this is my current assignment location; and yes it's true, John Grisham recently published a novel that features Bologna, called "The Broker," which is horrible and unreadable) they are celebrating our local patron saint, San Petronio. He is a 'civic' saint, someone chosen much more by the city than by the church. I have a picture of him right next to me just now. He is holding the city of Bologna in his right arm, a bishop's staff held by his left hand. As part of the celebration, they are having actors impersonate a number of religious figures on stage at Piazza Maggiore, the central point in the city. The religious figures being impersonated include Saint Frances. They will talk about the Bologna of today. I assume they will say all sorts of critical things! ("How can you treat dogs like that! What do you mean you can't talk with them? Can't everyone talk with dogs?") It's to be followed by fireworks: a good idea as they will help clear our minds of the high-minded comments by actors-playing-religious-types who are, like, so Aufhebung, it hurts. But their efforts remind me of a TV show that Steve Allen used to host which was a complete disaster, but very interesting in this regard. Mr. Allen would have actors come on a 'talk show' (the 'blog' of its day, if I may be allowed to be insufferably pretentious) and 'chat' about their theories. And so here's this poor guy pretending to be Plato and Steve Allen is chatting him up about the Forms. ("So, your view is that there's an ideal form of this chair right here, and of every chair, that exists and which acts as the model or 'stamp' of every actual chair?" "Why yes, Steve, that is my view. And by the way, did you see the new calendar featuring Pamela Anderson? I mean, talk about Ideal Form! Hubba hubba! I look at her and I say, get me some hemlock, because I owe a cock to Aesculapius! [canned studio laughter]") The show really didn't work! Then, because it was a talk show, Allen would bring on, say, Aristotle, who would then distort Plato's already ridiculous position into something even more caricatured. The spectacularity of the failure of this show -- I'm pretty sure it was on PBS -- must be seen to be appreciated. "Tune in next week when Abelard explains why castration 'in media res' makes for a fuller religious conversion. No flipping! We'll be right back!" But what if your idea was taken seriously and philosophers-as-bloggers was pursued. I'd love to pretend to be Hume. Or maybe Pierre Bayle. The 'dictionaries' of old, as for instance the one by Bayle, are good examples of blogging 'avant la lettre' (hope I spelled that right).

McKenzie Wark

Marx was definitely a blogger. The Paris manuscripts read just like a blog. (NIck Dyer-Witherford pointed this out to me once). Hegel was a newspaper editor for a while -- back when newspapers were more like blogs than newspapers. Adorno reviewed all the music performed in Frankfurt for who ever would publish him. I think its only graduate school that produces this odd notion that there is some infinite chasm between occasional writing and Big Theory. Even Kant wrote his 'enlightenment' essay for a newspaper competiton.

The Kant thing was pretty damn funny, tho'...


John, I love your talk show rift. Really priceless (hubba hubba and canned laughter). Did you actually see this show? It sounds far superior (in a truly godawful way) to Bill and Ted's excellent adventure. And, if you want, I'd love to have you do a guest post as Hume or Bayle! And, are the Platonic dialogues really blog transcripts?

McKenzie--I'd like to read the letters to the editor responding to Adorno's music critique. Or stage the astrologers' response to his criticisms of newspaper astrology forecasts. Now, Hegel, that I really need to see. I've never looked at any of his popular writing--in fact, didn't know that there was such a thing.

John S. Ransom

I would be honored to do a guest post and would love to do either Hume or Bayle.

John S. Ransom

Some of the Plato dialogues are quite bloggy, in the sense that everyone else pretty much stops talking and Plato blah-blahs for long periods of time, with someone saying "Yes Socratse" and "No Socrates" and "Whatever you say, Socrates" every now and then. Not the early part of the Republic, which is more interactive, but later yes. Question is, which I'm sure has been discussed by someone smart, what is the dialogic nature of blogs? Are they more like conversations (doesn't seem right) or more like speeches or talks (also doesn't seem right). Maybe they're (primarily) one-sided conversations. Anyway I'm thinking about Hume as a blogger.


John, Great on Hume as blogger post. I'm delighted. We can email about the details.

To Plato and blogs--I guess it depends on the blogs; I can think of at least one blog with quite a few Thracymachuses.

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