Seeking a Method of Philosophizing

Emmanuel Kant did overcome the passivity of the mind in the event of production of knowledge. He did restore the dynamism of the mind in the project of knowing.  But theory of the apriori categories of the mind has put back static passivity in the mind as it produces knowledge.  W. H Hegel seems to be overcoming it as he restored instability by stating that the categories through which the mind is grasping reality are dynamic.  This instability is certainly at the heart of reality. Martin Heidegger clearly tilts to towards this dynamism.  

Hegel teaches that to be able to say that something ‘is’, that it exits (that it is a Being) implies non-being or category of nothingness. Such that, one cannot call to mind without presupposing or recalling the other of what one position as ‘is’.  Being and non-being belong together. But even this Hegelian dialectics forgets the position of Joseph Marechal which teaches that when one thinks of something  as ‘is’ one opens to existence in an unlimited form.  This means our thinking involves a trialectics of Being, Non-being and Unlimited-being.  This means our knowing always carry an excess. We may have to synthesize Hegel with neo-thomist Marechal. 

It may bring us closer to the understanding of finitude that Heidegger says is forgotten by humanity.  Here too we have to overcome a slice of static passivity that we find in Marechal. The passivity is in the limiting principle of individuation that seems to seal the dynamism of being once it gets individuated.  This means being is moving towards beingfullness. We can see this in Jean-luc-Marion’s sense. It means being is tending to what Marechal calls unlimited being but it is limited by the finiting principle, non-being or nothing.  That is, being belongs together to unlimited-being and non-being.  This is why Emanuel Levinas is right. We cannot totalize being into our categories of same-ness. 

There is always an excess/ surplus/ mystery that carry the marks of infinity in reality. The real therefore, in Jacque Lacanian sense cannot be fully theorizable or rendered into categories of our understanding.  This is why from the trialectics or trialogics that I have proposed, we may have to move to polylectics or polylogics to count for infinity to open to the unlimited-being.  Thus, reality/ Being belong to the infinite set.  The event of understanding is only drawing a sub-set (s) that our experience and memory enables and disables. This means knowing is still coming together of the subject and object of knowledge. But is object-centric and the object of our knowledge is objecting or resisting  it continuously  and hence there is a growing terra in cognita that only we can humbly know in the process of knowing. This means the process of knowing is also a process of unknowing. It includes what we do not know. 

This is why it requires humility to stay open to the unknowing occurring in process of knowing. This means knowing is open to unlimited knowing but has to occur in the background of nothing. We have cannot even see something in abstraction. Phenomenological thinkers knew it. To see the coconut on a coconut tree, we will have to have to stop seeing everything else. This means we have to align our eye line to the see what we wish to see.  Thus, our being and knowing in –the-world is marked by our finitude.  It is forgetting of our finitude that cause of many of our problems today.  This is why ethics become central to avoid pragmatic arrogance that one may find in the opening of all possibilities of thinking in the thought of Deleuze and Gauttari or will to power in the thought of Nietzsche and Foucault. Therefore, we will have to admit that all knowing and being occurs in the horizons of the pluriversal and not the monotopic-hermeneutic universal. 

This may open us to the diatopic hermeneutics  of Panikkar to pluriversal hermeneutics of Walter Mignolo.  We may have to stay open to different knowledge ecologies without ordering them on the drawing board of hierarchy.  Will this mean we have to factor in hermeneutics that is seeking consensus?  Jurgen Habermas is  not acceptable as he calls for consensus that pretends to take the sting of politics but actually is letting one that can get the other  to submission wins.  There I favour ethics of dissensus.  Dissonance is productive.  Our being and knowing in-the-world is profoundly political. Therefore, ethics of dissensus that seeks to take full responsibility of one’s position and stand for freedom of other positions.  This means unlike consensus, ethics of dissensus does not try to overcome politics of being and knowing-in-the-world but wishes to stay with the dynamics of politics but choose to steer it towards emancipative options.

Ewa Plonsca Ziarek have  best articulated ethics of dissensus so far.   One can also trace a politics of dissensus in search of equality in the work of Jacque Rancier. My issue with this position is equalizing politics may not always be emancipative.  Such equalizing dissensus is   not free from logocentirc limitations that does not fully account for difference or otherness.  This why letting the play of politics with seeking to silence it but working   towards emancipation(s) in a pluriversal way.

 Perhaps, this is the great lesson we have in the novel dissident virus that is mutating even as I am writing.  It has a dissident relationship with us and our medical science.  Our condition with regard the novel virus is much closer to the cultivation of dissensus championed by English artist and thinker Helen Chadwick.  Both Ziarek and Chadwick include our bodily dimension of life in their thinking of dissenus.  Sensus is certainly bodily. This is why both consensus as well as dissensus has links to the body.  

In fact reality is dissenting against our attempts to fix it. Reality is in an instable dance across a range of scales.  It cannot be fully represented by our understanding and hence remains partly opaque which itself sets a full range of dynamism construction of our life. Dissensus challenges us to redistribute our experience of life without taking away the inherent politics.  It challenges us to face our positions and actions with full responsibility and freedom. This means ethical dissensus  can indeed take us on the part of emancipation.


Further Thoughts….

Ethics of dissensus  is  a site that opens possibilities of thinking, being and knowing-in-the-world with  full responsibility and freedom. To open these possibilities I think schizoanalysis that challenges us to become anti-Oedipus (rebellion against the given or received) becomes the best candidate.  It takes us into productive hermeneutics far beyond semiotic and semantic hermeneutics that remains tied to meaning making. Productive hermeneutics on the other hand is concerned with practices much in the Foucaultian sense.  This means it puts semiotic hermeneutics into a semiotic blackhole and opens us to the body-without-organs that can then grow new organs and introduces new emancipative semiosis. This means we open the drawing board by deflating and emptying of the meaning of the symbolic systems/ semiologies and open possibilities of insertion of meaning and reorder the hierarchies that mark our semiologies that flow from them.  This opening of otherwise closed semiologies   and reordering of them on a new anvil of hierarchy has to open new emancipative possibilities.   

 The productive hermeneutics manifests that practices do open affects and not explicit meanings. This is why practices remain beyond semiotic   hermeneutics. One can see productive hermeneutics at work in artistic practices.  To come to it, we need to understand how affects work to produce new lines of flight that can bring the anti-Oedipus out of us.  We need these to tap into the power of the lines of flights so that we can manifest new emancipative alternative to the teleologies of neo-liberal capitalism that is married to cultural nationalism that we find reigning in our country.  This new lines of flight may enable us to organize subjectivites of our people towards other ways of being Indians.  Like the lullaby sung to the children, we can see that politics of cultural nationalism married to neo-liberal policies of our Government is putting the citizen to death in our people.  What we are facing today is the death of Indian citizen. Thankfully, the farmers’ agitation is opening lines of flight  that make room for  alternate waves to ride to new ways of being Indians outside the ambit of  the caged enslavement of the neo-liberal economy and politics of cultural nationalism. 

This is why productive hermeneutics has to be nurtured to produce discord into the reigning semiologies and their teleologies   that have strong links with the form of capitalism and politics that is reining in our days.   Such a dissonance can produce affects that not just interrogate reining semiologies  and bring about an  impasse but also will open alternate  ways of being-humans-in-the-world (opening possibilities for new subjectivities to appear). This means productive hermeneutics works by introducing difference that produces affects that can let the anti-Oedipus stand up in us and we may find alternative ways of being to those that we nest with this far and  let the novel to emerge in and through us.  This is where we have to work to insert ethical form into the plasticity that is produced by the workings of productive hermeneutics.  This means we have to introduce   responsibly and in full freedom a dissonance that produces alternate space to think, know and be in-the-world that has freedom and responsibility to its heart.   Here comes the role of dialogue, interrogation and debate that will explode with the insertion of difference or otherness.  This communication is not merely at the service of consensus building in the Habermasian sense   but is in search of liveable emancipative possibilities both for individuals and communities that remain respectful of other ways or the pluriversal ways of being-human-in-the-world. 

 The universal becomesa point of closure to alternate ways and introduces a singular way as the way of being human-in-the-world. Such singularizing semiologies and teleologies are afflicting us today because of the hegemony of the nexus of neo-liberal economics and politics of cultural nationalism or identity playing out in our world.  Indeed, the nexus of the reigning economics and politics has produced dividuals in us. It is difficult to reverse this multi-tasking dynamic self.   This is why we have challenge to let ethics inform the new plasticity of the self.   This may explain how the kind of economics and politics is producing us through the closure of alternate ways of being-humans-in-the-world.  This means the challenge is to produce dissonance that interrogates the reigning order of things which will produce impasse and plasticity but also has to have momentum that pushes us to insert form to plasticity guided by ethics of emancipation.  Maybe an example may help in this regard. The way BJP continuously criticizes Congress may actually produces a plasticity of affect and its bhakts introduce a form into that plasticity that make their support to the BJP appear to be nationalist and in accordance to their religious faith.  In the same fashion any attack on Modi might be working in his favour.  

Thus our attention to the productive hermeneutics does bring us to a point where the reining nexus of capitalism and politics works and produces our ways of being-the-world. The plasticity produced by insertion of difference enable us to both receive and give form to it.  Notion of plasticity is allied to the notion of body-without-organs as well as the notion of semiotic black hole. While these concepts indicate that practices of contestation, interrogation or dissonance produces impassive plasticity and the affects that flow from this condition of impassivity lead us to give form or receive form and thus influence our ways of becomings-in-the- world.  We can identify the condition of impassivity created by the farmers’ protests in New Delhi. It has set in affects that give and receive forms that may range from being Anti-Modi to anger against the farmer.  It has certainly set in ways of becoming Indians in contestation with the reining ways rooted in the nexus of neo-liberal economy and politics of cultural nationalism. It is at this point of impassivity that we need an ethics to introduce an emancipative ways of being Indians. The protest of the farmers’ have opened the condition of these possibilities.  It is important to be able to ride these lines of flight opened by the revolt of the farmers to create room for alternate ways of being humans in our country.


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao