The Charioteer

"The charioteer of the human soul drives a pair of steeds, and one of the horses is beautiful, good, and formed of such elements, whereas the makeup of the other one is quite the opposite." -Phaedrus

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Location: Duquesne University, United States

A Blog For All and None. Consider it my narrative history of ideas. A place primarily to share and obtain feedback to my thoughts through my graduate career in philosophy. For philosophy is simply "thoughts that have been thought out."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Secret, or a Philosophy-less Philosophy

It astounds me how hundreds of books are published each year by learned and erudite minds that, even if they are not necessarily groundbreaking in material, are still miles superior to the slavish drivel of Rhonda Byrne's bestseller, The Secret. So why does the drivel have the upperhand on the great oration? Perhaps, ironically, it is precisely because the book is so poorly argued, and therefore, very simple, that the masses take to it all the more; because it is a "philosophy" without a grounding philosophy, and therefore is easier to understand than philosophical scholarship. But this is all the more dangerous. If the only philosophically oriented literature the majority of people read nowadays is that "philosophical" literature that is not actually rigorously supported by philosophical argumentation, but some random references to "great thinkers" and actual quotes by others who happen not to be great thinkers, then philosophy (or a legitimate and supported world-view) is not what is actually being received. Rather, Rhonda's random, unsupported world-view, born from a reflection on experience, but one who certainly has not won the the educational rights to write philosophy. In short: why would someone trust a purported world-view, without the philosophical support of education and knowledge of previous philosophies?

Take for example the first paragraph of the dustcover summary:

Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.

No one writing a serious philosophy or scholarly work would get away with a statement such as this one. (1) It's overly sensational. (2) It's incredibly audacious in its claim to tradition and its superiority. (3) It's far too presumptuous in terms of its expected outcome. In fact, there are scholars who dedicate their lives to the study of these very traditions, oral, literary, religious and philosophical traditions who all just may very much call Rhonda's work into question.

Read books with some scholarly argumentation and not empty assertions even if the latter are easier to understand. And don't trust any random philosophy, and especially if the author has not achieved the right to convince you of her opinion, i.e., who is not even a philosopher. In short, dump The Secret in the trash can nearest you!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Did Scheler Foreshadow Levinas' Critique of Heidegger?

Scheler once wrote that "if I were Dasein, I would rather not exist." Is this not essentially what Levinas is disputing by razing down ontology and attempting to reverse the Heideggerian poles of its relation to metaphysics. It is because Being is essential empty and impersonal, devoid of content, such as the sight of the face. Being's fundamentality is precisely its fault, and because of this, lacks the very fundamentality it claims. The analytic of Dasein is simply an impersonal form of Being. So are we to give up personality for totality? What is the point? Who cares enough about totality? Why would it be so important to remain on such an impersonal level?

Of course, Levinas finds this meaningless. As did Scheler, quite boldly, over twenty years before Levinas. Scheler's claim to fame is the destruction of the formal through the material, the ascendancy of the personal over everything impersonal. Why has this not been noticed?

Scheler will continue to lack a place in philosophy if his importance is never noticed. More on this later.... Much more indeed.