I’m also fully prepared for my contribution to result in puzzled looks and scratching heads. My philosophical work has inspired both of those reactions in more or less equal proportions for as long as I’ve been in the field.
As it is, some more reflections on Deleuze’s philosophy (and meta-philosophy) today.
• • •
So about those incredibly difficult ideas. Tuesday’s post ended with a description of a type of inadequate philosopher – an inadequate thinker, really.
Call such a person a Master Debater.
|There are few things more obnoxious than a self-declared Master|
Debater. Yes, I know he'd say that's not an argument. And my response
would be to remind him that I never intended to make an argument.
My intention was to insult him.
If someone takes to heart that the primary purpose of philosophical reasoning is critiquing and evaluating arguments, then he’s reduced all the world’s traditions of philosophy to a debate club about some of the weirdest ideas in the world.
Example. You ask whether Kant’s arguments for the specific limits he describes on legitimate human thought are logically valid, or look for critical or knockdown counter-arguments.
There are aesthetic aspects of philosophical thinking too, where you study the concepts and ideas of philosophical greats as creative artworks. This is the best approach to being a historian of philosophy – your methods carefully read philosophical texts to understand precisely their concepts.
Problem is, historians of philosophy tend to think that there’s only one true reading of a philosophical text or great figure. Or at least, that’s how much their papers tend to snipe at each other’s interpretations.
Example. Describe in detail the conception of the human mind that Kant develops in his Critical period.
Let’s start with that idea, person. A person is an individual sapient creature. Most of the people we know are humans. A historian isn’t a historian all the time – sometimes she’s a cook, an athlete, or a daughter. Likewise, an obnoxious philosophical debater isn’t an obnoxious debater all the time – sometimes, he’s a dog owner, a father, a lawyer.
He’s always obnoxious, but that’s another matter.
When these people start on their historical research projects, or launch into a debate, they’re adopting a persona – the historian of philosophy, the master debater. Likewise, the developer of philosophical concepts adopts a persona too, the philosopher.
Philosophy, says Deleuze, creates a particular kind of persona, though. A feedback loop starts to develop between the philosopher and her concepts. Immanuel Kant the professor and long-distance power-walker were ordinary personae. But philosophically, the concepts Kant later developed would influence his own thinking.
Not necessarily like an inference early in an argument or a logical proof would influence a later conclusion. When you develop a framework for thought, you begin to use that framework in your own thinking, analyzing its details by developing new aspects and applications.
Maybe you begin to see your own framework for thought through that framework itself. Maybe the wider application brings new additions and complexities to the simpler way of thinking that began the whole enterprise.
Example. The average philosophical reader in the 1780s and 90s couldn’t have foreseen a work like the Critique of Judgment coming based on the Critique of Pure Reason. Kant couldn’t either.
But thinking from the new perspective Kant developed, he wasn’t an ordinary philosopher anymore. He’d become the first Kantian too. Think on that for a day (or two).