“Perhaps the best way to describe the diminishing interest in philosophy among the intellectuals is to say that the infinite is losing its charm.
We are becoming commonsensical finitists – people who believe that when we die we rot, that each generation will solve old problems only by creating new ones, that our descendants will look back on much that we have done with incredulous contempt, and that progress toward greater justice and freedom is neither inevitable nor impossible.
We are becoming content to see ourselves as a species of animal that makes itself up as it goes along.
Richard Rorty, Philosophy as Cultural Politics
“The gigantic financial crisis sending tremors all over the world is the disastrous result of the hegemony of the short term of which the destruction of attention is at once effect and cause. The loss of attention is a loss of capacities of projection into the long term (that is, of investment in objects of desire) which systemically effects the psychic apparatuses of consumers manipulated by psychopower as well as the manipulators themselves: the speculator is typically the person who pay no attention to the objects of his speculation, and who takes no care of them either.”
– Bernard Stiegler, Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care
My university is hosting an event this summer that invites various disciplines to take part.
What is the CULTure of (IN)difference?
“Our dream is to allow artists, musicians, thespians, poets, scholars, and others to engage with and learn from one another.
The nature of the event is in the hands of the participants. We imagine an eclectic coming together of all the Arts in an explosion of creativity and a synergy of ideas.
The event is scheduled for 30th September and 1st October 2011 in the Visual Arts building on Main Campus. We welcome participants and attendance from all disciplines.
Are the Arts simply governed by a trendy elite; a “Cult of In?” Or are the Arts in South Africa meant to articulate political understandings in our “Culture of Difference?” Are South Africans “indifferent” to the Arts for any particular reason, if they are at all?
These and other questions were the motivation behind the title. However, we welcome all interpretations of the event since the organisers were few, and the participants will be many. This is a postgraduate initiative; we aim to give postgraduate students who touch on the arts a space in which to express themselves. However, this by no means excludes everybody else.”
– Extract from the oh so pretty CULT/ure of IN/diffference website, you can interact with users, students and participants by registering online.
“It is not rational arguments, but emotions, that cause belief in a future life.
The most important of these emotions is fear of death, which is instinctive and biologically useful. If we genuinely and wholeheartedly believe in the future life, we should cease completely to fear death. The effects would be curious, and probably such as most of us would deplore. But our human and sub-human ancestors have fought and exterminated their enemies throughout many geological ages, and have profited by courage, it is therefore an advantage to the victors in the struggle for life to be able on occasion, to overcome the natural fear of death. Among animals and savages, instinctive pugnacity suffices for this purpose; but at a certain stage of development, as the Mohammedans first proved, belief in Paradise has considerable military value as reinforcing natural pugnacity. We should therefore admit that militarists are wise in encouraging the belief in immortality, always supposing that this belief does not become so profound as to produce indifference to the affairs of the world.”
– Bertrand Russell, Do we survive death?
“There is perhaps a special danger in democratic abuses of power, namely that being collective they are stimulated by mass hysteria. The man who has the art of arousing the witch-hunting instincts of the mob has a quite peculiar power for evil in a democracy where the habit of the exercise of power by the majority has produced that intoxication and impulse to tyranny which the exercise of authority almost invariably produces sooner or later.”
– Bertrand Russell, Freedom and the Colleges
“The racist/fundamentalist parents of our students say that in a truly democratic society students should not be forced to read books by such people – black people, Jewish people, homosexual people. They will protest that these books are being jammed down their children’s throats. I cannot see how to reply to this charge without saying something like: ‘There are credentials for admission to our democratic society, credentials which we liberals have been making more stringent by doing our best to excommunicate racists, male chauvinists, homophobes and the like. You have to be educated in order to be a citizen in our society, a participant in our conversation, someone with whom we can envisage merging our horizons. So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours.”
– Richard Rorty
A colleague of mine presented a paper on Rorty and Habermas at our post-grad colloquium, and this quote caught my attention. The papers that were presented were all excellent, I spoke on Schopenhauer’s Metaphysics of Morals which was a bit abstract in comparison. But one paper blew us all away, a friend of mine spoke on Nietzsche, Marx and the development of the Blues. I actually managed to listen to the entire presentation (I struggle to concentrate if people just read their papers) the title was: “I asked her for water, but she gave me gasoline.”…What a rock star! He’s gonna do a lot for philosophy someday, I’m sure of it!
“Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites – polar opposites – so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love. We’ve got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our time.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.