German critical philosophy arose in the context of a class of Civil Servants (Beamter) arriving at a common view of things by rational, 'enlightened', discussion and then implementing a socio-economic plan such that the realm achieve 'catch-up growth' and thus become strong enough to resist the economic and military might of France. The Scottish Enlightenment, equally concerned with catch-up growth relative to England, was a big influence on Beamtenliberalismus. However, once actual fighting started, a more 'Nationalist' type of philosophy- e.g. that of Fichte- gained salience. Hegel's philosophy went a step further in conciliating Church and State while also motivating some Scientific investigation. However, it was developments in Mathematics and the applications of such developments to Economic and Scientific investigation which increasingly occupied the smarter sort of academic. Husserl originally looked quite Mathsy. Sadly, Phenomenology turned out to be worthless. Still, for spoiled Catholics, Brentano had opened a door towards Husserl's tedious shite not to mention Heidegger's craziness. Meanwhile, pragmatism or instrumentalism triumphed. Catch-up growth is all very well- it is simply a matter of mimetics- but further innovation requires a 'discovery' process involving different views of the world rather than a bunch of Civil Servants with a common view of things working to the same plan.
Prof. Michael Weinman, writing in the Hedgehog Review, has an article titled 'Hannah Arendt and the Loss of a Common World- Thinking in Concert Against Theory'. It is certainly true that the Beamten Professor/Civil Servant had lost a common view of things and thus a common world because the German General Staff kept starting ruinous wars, but there was a 'Common World' available to non-savant Germans. It was one in which Germany stopped trying to dominate Europe and just concentrated on eating sausages, drinking beer and making nice cameras or cars or whatever. The mathematical economics of either Kantorovich or Samuelson was the common world which, truth to be told, had first been explored by Hermann Heinrich Gossen- truly a prophet without honor.
Weinman takes a different view.
What is the matter with theory?
Stupid theories are stupid. They attract increasingly brain damaged savants. Smart theories have cash value. They more than pay for themselves. If your theory gets you a better Structural Causal Model which then enables you to better predict or improve outcomes, then you end up with more authority in the sense that, by reason of authoritative knowledge, you provide a focal solution to a coordination game and so, essentially, people are doing what you say.
More specifically, what does a distinctively modern approach to theorizing have to do with the prevalence of the kind of conspiracist thinking that thrives in our era of post-truth politics?
Nothing at all. If the Left-Liberals spend money on academic research of an utterly shite type so as to tell stupid lies, everybody else tells even stupider lies without doing any fucking academic research. The Left Liberals then totally lose their shit.
To find answers to that question, political and cultural analysts have recently returned to the work of Hannah Arendt—and for good reason.
She was as stupid as shit and therefore easy to understand.
Despite her training as a
philosopher in her native Germany, the brilliant Jewish émigré thinker (1906–75) was
shittier than Ayn Rand.
not only not a theorist but even something of an anti-theorist,
i.e. a hysterical feuilletonist earning a little money by catering to middle-brow Americans
a practitioner of exercises of political thinking
which wasn't political at all. Ayn Rand was way more successful.
that were never theoretical in the usual sense. Ranging from her magisterial Origins of Totalitarianism
Which was nonsense from start to finish. Totalitarianism exists where a State is geared to total War- not otherwise. This may initially be an internal war- e.g. Spartans keeping helots in check- but it is bound to become aggressive for fiscal reasons. There was a Hobbesian view of radix malorum- Men as being naturally inclined to radical evil- but it was obvious that this could be kept in check by limited government based on civil society as happened in England. Kant was merely giving a theological, Lutheran, color to this notion. He wasn't writing about Totalitarianism- which, after all, his own 'Enlightened Despot' might resort to under exigent circumstances. Arendt's book is a hodgepodge of silly ideas which, however, in a Cold War context would feather her nest and advance her reputation. In any case, she didn't have a penis and thus would be excused for writing hysterical bollocks.
and The Human Condition to her many essays, reviews, and works of analytical reportage (notably in Eichmann in Jerusalem), her oeuvre might best be characterized as a form of
hysterical journalism which paid the bills.
praxis, of thought in action.
or stupidity in the service of earning a buck.
Grounded in the common world, this form of political thinking aims to support continued and active engagement in that world.
by getting paid and invited to nice parties- right?
The core insight to which commentators on Arendt have returned in recent years is her sense of the loss of the common world.
for those who studied stupid shite at Uni. By contrast, if you were a Scientist or even a good Economist- there was a common world which was your oyster.
That world could exist, she believed, only if “differences of position and the resulting variety of perspectives notwithstanding, everybody is always concerned with the same object.”
This was Kantian. The Beamten should, by rational discussion, get on to the same page and then implement a plan which would enable some backward part of Germany to rise up through 'catch-up growth'.
As our lives are increasingly shaped by the hyperpolarization of political communication
of a stupid or paranoid type
and the online silos in and through which we interact with others, any activities that might otherwise have prompted us to enter and participate fully and freely in a shared civic realm have all but vanished.
Unless you have a good structural causal model of the Polity and can earn big bucks getting candidates elected. If you are smart and do useful stuff you have access to a 'common world'. If you are stupid and talk bollocks, you resent having to talk to nutters as worthless as yourself while everybody else jeers at you on Twitter.
Integral to Arendt’s picture of a healthy or at least decent polity is her conviction that such a “space of public appearance”—a public forum in which all citizens can exercise their distinctive human qualities—is possible only when there is a common world, shared by everyone on the basis of a common sense and the common object of perception that serves as its ground.
There will always be overlapping consensus re. utile 'coordination games'. This is the 'common world' of financial markets and Law Courts and Legislatures where Social Choice occurs.
A common world is maintained, she held, both through the actions of those who inhabit the space of appearance
as opposed to the cupboard of disappearance- right?
and through their steady and cumulative judgments on the features of this civic realm.
Such judgments don't need to be steady or cumulative. We are welcome to completely change our minds.
The problem, of course, particularly in recent years and even more in the wake of the COVID pandemic, is that we lack the “common object” of perception that is required for a common world.
Fuck off! COVID showed we have a 'common object'- viz. not dying of a horrible disease. Also, we don't want the economy to collapse.
Lacking this, more and more of us are open to the influence of those who wish to propagate “alternative facts.”
What fucking facts can cretins teaching shite come up with? The truth is we were all taken by surprise by how utterly shite the CDC and the WHO turned out to be.
For many readers of Arendt, then, the salient feature of her account of worldlessness, and the sense of isolation and loneliness that comes with it, is a general susceptibility to propaganda and manipulation by nefarious political actors.
Don't read Arendt. You will become susceptible to voting for Trump even though your Mummy told you not to.
While this reading is not wrong, I wish to point to another dimension of the lack of the “common object,” one that is critical for understanding the alienation that she believed follows from the loss of the common world. Namely, I want to emphasize the solipsism that is endemic to two forms of life that are directly opposed to public life and the “condition of plurality” that is both necessary for and a result of such life. One is the solitary life of the lover of wisdom (the philosopher).
Why should it be solitary? A mathematician who cuts himself off from others of his trade runs the risk of ending up babbling nonsense. You need peer-review otherwise you might as well become a socioproctologist.
The other is the lonely life of the lover of goodness (the saint).
Saints aint lonely. They are busy looking after Life's walking wounded when they aint doing my washing-up. Seriously, Saint dude, just do my fucking washing up already.
Both the philosopher and the saint stand, and understand themselves to stand, alone and apart from others, without whom it is impossible to share a “common object.”
The opposite must be the case. Weinman is thinking of wankers who stand alone, apart from each other, jizzing into the empty air. On the other hand they may share a 'common object' through Pornhub.
Arendt holds that while the philosopher and the saint share the experience of isolation from their neighbors, the political and societal salience of these forms of separation differ significantly. They do because the “goodness and loneliness” of the saint are “of much greater relevance to politics” than the “wisdom and solitude” of the philosopher.
Goodness may be relevant to politics. Loneliness isn't.
This matters, Arendt concludes, because while no one can endure the loneliness of the saint “for any length of time,” it is possible for the solitude of the philosopher to “become an authentic way of life.
Unless the fucker slips and falls and breaks his neck while strolling down some Holzwege.
The afterlife of the classical figure of the philosopher and the late antique figure of the saint
is combined in such figures as Mahatma Gandhi or various Catholic or Buddhist or Sufi preceptors who also run charitable organizations of various types.
might seem a world apart from today’s conspiracy theorist in his basement lair. But Arendt’s worries about alienation and worldlessness and her antipathy to high theorizing and the “circle of philosophers” (among whom she unquestionably intended to include her former mentor, Martin Heidegger), with whom she famously, if contentiously, sought to distance herself, suggest that the figures of the philosopher and the saint explain a great deal about our present predicament. As she sees things, the “professional thinker” in the modern age—the theorist operating in academe—has forged an amalgam of the dispassionate and disinterested pursuit of wisdom performed by the solitary philosopher and the passionate and profoundly interested pursuit of pure, unworldly, goodness performed by the lonely saint. What is destroyed in that powerful amalgam—for which Arendt (quoting Alfred North Whitehead) gives ultimate credit to René Descartes and Cartesian radical doubt—is the very possibility of common sense: “Cartesian reason is entirely based ‘on the implicit assumption that the mind can only know that which it has itself produced’…. For common sense, which once had been the one by which all other senses [were] fitted into the common world…now became an inner faculty without any world relationship. The sense now was called common merely because it happened to be common to all.”
But Anglo-Saxon philosophy is Baconian. Thomas Reid argued strongly against the Cartesian theory of Ideas. Scottish 'Common Sense' philosophy had a big market in post-Kantian Konigsberg- which is where Arendt herself grew up.
In other words, Arendt argues, with the triumph of Descartes,
in France maybe. But England was better.
the common of “common sense” diametrically shifts from the world to its opposite, the inner faculty—thought—that forms the object that the sense perceives. Quite literally, modern Cartesian individuals become a world unto themselves: Small wonder that the prevalence of alternative facts becomes an ever more salient issue.
But Cartesian meat-machines are monads which must be in pre-established harmony. Some Cartesians were full blown Occasionalists.
Since Descartes, then, the professional thinker—self-reliant and indeed a world unto himself, the gender of that pronoun surely intended—has stood against the world whenever he stands for himself.
Nonsense. Descartes was not a professional thinker. People paid to think had to do useful stuff. Because scarcity is ubiquitous, Utility brings all minds under its yoke save in so far as madness or mischief supervenes.
In this way, the classical “consolation of philosophy” as articulated by Boethius, a bridge between the antique and medieval moments of what Arendt sees as “the tradition,” is forever lost to the thinker in the modern age.
Unless that thinker relocates to a Christian campus. Actually, even that is unnecessary. One can follow Boethius in between doing Yoga and adoring the Dalai Lama.
To explain what she meant by that lost tradition, Arendt invoked her friend and fellow exile Walter Benjamin’s image of the pearl diver: We have, as a legacy, the treasures of cultural production from antiquity and the Middle Ages, and we can appreciate their luster and value their rarity. But the inner meaning and values these pearls held for those who participated in the cultures that produced them are lost to us on the other side of the historical breach introduced by the Cartesian revolution.
Arendt hadn't noticed that there are still plenty of Churches and Christian Seminaries and Catholic Universities and monastic orders. There was no fucking 'Cartesian revolution' at least for the Anglophone. A 'Baconian revolution'- maybe.
Consequently, if we are to restore the world to the practice of thinking,
coz cretins teaching worthless shite can restore 'the practice of thinking'- right?
we need an alternative to this uniquely pernicious brand of solipsism that Arendt derides as “professional thinking,” and which we can call simply theory, as Arendt understands it.
Theory is only solipsistic if it has no predictive or informative power. But such theory is termed shite.
Opposed to self-regarding theory of this kind, Arendt advocates dialectical thinking, a form of thought that embraces plurality and is both in and of the world.
like a turd protruded from an anus. Still, Arendt was able to make a little money from her 'dialectical' bullshit. Good for her. Ayn Rand made more money and Gary Cooper starred in a movie based on one of her books.
She explicates this positive form of thinking in the world through a unique reconstruction of Immanuel Kant’s account of the faculty of judgment, which she thinks of as Kant’s unwritten political philosophy.
We know what Kant's actual political philosophy was. He thought Beamten savants like himself should hold free and rational discussions amongst themselves and then advise the Prince on how to do what we would call Gerschenkron type catch up growth.
How, then, might this account offer an antidote to the illness of our alienation and the loss of a common object of perception?
The answer is that we must roll up our copy of Arendt's Human Condition and use it as a suppository.
Much of our incessant handwringing about a post-truth media environment and a public discourse based on “alternative facts” is prompted by the question of objectivity and whether it is an attainable norm in the human sciences and civil society. Arendt argues that while objectivity, as the view from nowhere, might be both an impossible and undesirable aim, there has been ever since Homer
an achievable norm for the making of claims in public debate over matters of fact that can be established.
Before Homer, you could claim, in a public debate, to be able to levitate and shit on the heads of your opponents from a great height. Sadly, Homer put a stop to this.
What is more, this norm can underlie the claims we make about, say, events leading up to a massive armed conflict just as much as it does about arguments concerning the fabric of the physical world.
But only since Homer. Otherwise the underlying norm involved levitating and shitting on your opponents from a great height.
Take the question that motivated Thucydides: “Why did the Spartans and their allies find war with the Athenians inevitable?”
The answer was the same as that for any other conflict made inevitable by uncertainty re. the payoff matrix.
Or consider the question that motivated Arendt’s investigation of the conflict between truth and politics. As Arendt argues, the fact that it is not possible to arrive at a rational consensus concerning “the question of guilt for the outbreak of the First World War”
Fuck off! The Germans were guilty. Why? They deeply regret going down that extremely stupid road. It makes sense to feel guilt and shame for doing stupid shit which really fucks up you and yours. By contrast, the victors didn't feel guilt. They felt vindication. Anyway, the Germans signed the War Guilt clause. No backsies- mein Herr!
means two things: first, that objectivity as classically defined is impossible when it comes to matters of fact (or value?) such as these;
No. Objectivity is possible. Proof of objectivity is impossible save under arbitrary protocols.
second, and nevertheless, that “no less than a power monopoly over the entire civilized world” would be required “to eliminate from the record the fact that on the night of August 4, 1914, German troops crossed the frontier into Belgium.”
Not really. New records may come to light showing that the Belgian Guides Regiment had encountered a German advance guard on the second of August.
Indeed, Arendt argues not only that we may aspire to impartiality in asking and attempting to answer questions such as whom to hold accountable for the outbreak of the Great War, but that we must do so.
This is foolish. It is an objective fact that Germany admitted war guilt and agreed to pay reparations. True, they went back on this but after being defeated again they once again admitted war guilt. This is a legal matter. A lawyer does not need to be impartial to uncover the facts of the case. On the other hand, there are types of discourse which are not protocol bound or alethic in any sense. In such discourse, a person could say Germany didn't have any war guilt because Dracula had hypnotized Spiderman whom Dr. Strange had sent back in time. This caused my neighbor's cat to disguise itself as General Schlieffen. The rest, as the say, is History- Comic Book History that is.
If we abjure this responsibility, then we accept that the social sciences will be
nothing more than technique, a manner of modeling historical and contemporary phenomena of the human condition and social interaction that does not so much attempt to account for who we are
more especially if we have been bitten by a radio-active spider and hypnotized by Dracula.
and what we do as to “prescribe conditions, conditions to human behavior.”
Fuck off. Social Science doesn't need to prescribe shit. Prediction is good enough more particularly if the Structural Causal Model permits improved mechanism design.
The sciences, both human (historical and social) and exact, are techniques:
No. They involve the use of techniques and tools and instruments of various sorts.
Never concerned simply with objective observation,
No. They are always concerned with objective observations. An economist doesn't say 'this time-series is totes gay.'
they are actually forms of human activity that attempt to bring about certain “artificial” conditions.
Bullshit! The aim is to do something useful.
While Arendt originally made this claim about the work of the cruder behavioralists of the mid-twentieth century, the universally recognized failure of Homo economicus in the proliferation of models of economic and voting behavior based on rational choice theory in the face of the Great Recession and the shock results of Brexit and the 2016 US presidential election make for excellent examples of what she has in mind.
No they don't. People using rational choice theory made money out of such 'shock results'. Brexit was a boon for volatility traders. Trump's victory was actually good for America. Biden's was a fucking disaster for the entire West. Yet Biden is a nice guy while Trump is a sociopath.
Arendt concludes that when it comes to questions studied in what we call the social sciences, the issue at hand “is no longer a question of academic objectivity”;
It could be. Consider the “Gerschenkron effect”- i.e. the recognition that when intertemporal price and quantity relatives are negatively correlated an “early-weighted” aggregate will grow faster than a “late-weighted” aggregate. If we suspect a particular index has been constructed for some partisan purpose, we will check for 'Laspeyres bias'.
The plain fact is Arnedt had studied stupid shit and, in an entrepreneurial fashion, made a bit of money out of writing stupid bollocks. This was cool coz she'd fucked Heidegger and back then peeps without penises were supposed to be as stupid as shit.
rather, what truly brings about our crisis is that “everything is possible not only in the realm of ideas, but in the field of reality itself.”
This simply isn't true. Dracula can't hypnotize Spiderman coz Tony Stark put an anti-hypnosis filter in the eyepiece of the Spidey suit.
The situation in which “everything is possible” is, indeed, Arendt’s diagnosis of what is distinctly totalizing in totalitarian dictatorship.
Nonsense! What is isn't possible is precisely Hayekian spontaneous order such that a disaggregated non-deterministic discovery process is better than a substantive solution. This is why the Soviets fell behind the Americans in IT though, in 1970, the reverse appeared to be the case. Come to think of it, France's 'Minitel'- launched in 1980- was predicted to give it the advantage in getting to an online economy faster. They only retired the thing in 2012.
It is the world-historically unique manifestation of the human capacity to will a world existing “only in ideas” (ideology) into actual reality.
The American Revolution willed into existence something which previously existed only in ideas. But it wasn't totalitarian.
If we fail to achieve a sense of impartiality—what Arendt calls a “common sense”—then what is lost, along with the democratic warrant for the pursuit of truth (factual as well as rational), is the common world altogether.
No. Uncorrelated asymmetries dictating bourgeois strategies are eusocial. Public signals should support this type of correlated equilibrium. Everybody should be partial in their own cause. Enlightened self-interest supports 'common knowledge' solutions to coordination places.
There is no democratic warrant to pursue anything save enlightened self-interest. You are not entitled to discover the truth about the size of my dick- or even the President's dick.
In a Lonely Place
Fear of this loss is precisely what motivated Arendt in writing Eichmann in Jerusalem.
She got paid to do so. But she messed up.
As she explained more directly in “Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship,” a lecture written in response to the initial controversy surrounding her five-part 1963 “report on the banality of evil” in The New Yorker, the central object of that work was to challenge her readers—and all members of a democratic society—to accept responsibility for passing judgment, in this instance on Adolf Eichmann.
Why not challenge them to prove the Reimann hypothesis instead? We don't greatly care what the Israelis get up to though it must be said, kidnapping and killing Eichmann was badass.
She saw this responsibility as citizens’ foremost duty
one's foremost duty is to do the fucking job you are paid to do- not listening to nutters like Hannah's Aunt.
for the sake of preserving both the space of appearance and the durability of the common world that the National Socialist regime and its genocidal ideology had attempted to annihilate.
But the 'common world' annihilated that regime by killing Nazis. That's the only thing which works. Taking responsibility for Eichmann's inadequate access to toilet paper when he was shitting himself for fear of the hangman's noose may help pass the time- but only if you have way way too much time on your hands.
Instead of pleading “Who am I to judge?” each and every one of us should be
fisting ourselves vigorously? Would that satisfy this nutter?
asking, “If not me, then who shall pass judgment?”
The Judge. That's what he gets paid to do.
Concluding her lecture, Arendt said, “In the situation of radical world-alienation,
coz plain, garden variety, world-alienation simply won't do- right?
neither history nor nature is at all conceivable.
unless you shove a chili pepper up your arse. Seriously, anytime you are in a situation of radical world-alienation and find you can't conceive history or geography or whatever, simply find a Scotch bonnet and shove it up your arse. It's what Heidegger would do. Trust me on this.
This twofold loss of the world…has left behind it a society of men who, without a common world which would at once relate and separate them, either live in desperate lonely separation or pressed together in a mass.”
worse, everybody has to fit into the same pair of underpants.
We thus arrive, through a different route from the usual one
there's a usual route to this shite?
through Arendt’s discussion of truth and lying in politics,
which turned out to be bullshitting
at a familiar but differently focused Arendtian story about the isolated nightmare version of the Selbstdenker—people who think for themselves
and quickly emigrate to Amrika coz thinking is better paid there
—whether in the form of academic theorists who attack windmills of their own fantastic projection or full-blown conspiracy theorists raving about extraterrestrial pederasts.
but neither necessarily 'thinks for herself'. Some isolated thinkers- e.g. Srinivas Ramanujan proving theorems which were already known to professional mathematicians- were perfectly sane while some mathematicians who went mad worked as part of a team.
What is this nightmare vision in which the academic as professional thinker and the crazed conspiracy theorist converge?
It is nonsense.
Here we can think of how Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s often-cited and academically respectable claim about the concentration camp as the paradigm of the late modern technocratic state’s use of biopolitics to control citizens,
a ludicrous claim. Concentration camps did not contain 'citizens'. Jews etc. were subjects stripped of citizenship. The actual paradigm of biopolitics is the British National Health Service which built on the country's war time experience.
even (and perhaps especially) in advanced liberal democracies, led rather directly to his widely, and rightfully, disparaged COVID denialism.
David Icke had more impact in this respect.
Theologian Adam Kotsko
ambitious but Jason Brennan level stupid
has written perceptively about Agamben’s public claims about the pandemic: “I am a scholar and translator of Agamben’s work, which has deeply influenced my own. Though we are not personally close, we are in contact, and I first learned of his turn to COVID skepticism when he asked me to translate some of his blog posts. I agreed, hoping to present the best version of his argument while trying (and ultimately failing) to get him to reconsider his position. In the end, I regretted inserting myself into this embarrassing affair, and began to wonder whether his paranoid pandemic writings called the rest of his work into question. The more I waded into them, the darker my outlook became.” Why so? Because, as Kotsko explained, “Agamben’s new arguments about coronavirus restrictions are explicitly grounded in the book that made him most famous.” It is even more alarming that there is little clear difference between Agamben’s exaggerated use of his respectable theory of the “state of exception” in his irresponsible blog posts and the extravagant claims of a QAnon true believer.
Schmitt, like Heidi, was a spoiled Catholic and thus was rehabilitated for Cold War reasons. Foucault was simply mad. Agamben was stupid and paranoid. David Icke, on the other hand, has made money out of his mental illness. Why? I suppose his craziness is based on the popular TV Sci-Fi series 'V' which had hot women who were actually lizards.
If we continue to unravel this thread through Arendt’s two “crisis” essays collected in Between Past and Future, “The Crisis in Education” and “The Crisis in Culture,”
There was no crisis in Education or Culture but there was a Cuban Missile Crisis. Nobody asked Hannah's Aunt to write about it coz she was as stupid as shit.
we see how she understands the oscillation between the lonely isolation of a nightmare version of the Selbstdenker such as Agamben and mass movements such as that of the COVID denialists in Germany who explicitly compared pandemic-related restrictions to the National Socialist regime, using slogans like “Wir sind die Jüden” (“We are the Jews”) and wearing yellow armbands marked with the Star of David. This likely unintended synergy undermines our trust in public discourse, which itself leads to our loss of a common world.
No. We know that anybody who talks about Nazis is a hysterical nutcase- or Putin.
In “The Crisis in Education,” Arendt writes that “whenever in political questions sound human reason fails
why should it do so? The Law has a 'doctrine of political question' and Social Choice theory has a mathematical elucidation of why there may be 'holes' in political decision spaces but the relative autonomy of the political realm does not represent any scandal for human reason.
or gives up the attempt to supply answers we are faced by a crisis;
why? There are plenty of mathematical and other questions to which we can't supply answers but this does not cause any crisis
for this kind of reason is really that common sense by virtue of which we and our five individual senses are fitted into a single world common to us all and by the aid of which we move around in it.” By this means, she concludes, “a piece of the world, something common to us all, is destroyed.
Very true. Atlantis was a big continent where lots of peeps used to go for their holidays. Then Hitler caused some sort of political or educational or cultural crisis. Atlantis suddenly disappeared. The same thing could happen to Kansas if Trump is re-elected.
In “The Crisis in Culture,” Arendt argues most emphatically for the vital and irreplaceable role of a common sense.
But people with common sense don't argue emphatically for it. Why not argue for the vital and irreplaceable role of respiration instead?
Here, turning to the wider “crisis in culture” of which the crisis in education is a symptom, she writes that common sense “discloses to us the nature of the world insofar as it is a common world.”
No. A person with common sense who enters a different world- e.g. the underwater world of scuba diving- can still make sensible decisions. Common sense just means a type of practical ability which exists independently of anything epistemic.
She claims that this is possible only because “our strictly private and ‘subjective’ five senses and their sensory data can adjust themselves to a nonsubjective and ‘objective’ world which we have in common and share with others.”
but those others include cats and dogs and birds and plants. The fact is, we evolved in the same way as other life forms. If we have 'senses' it is because they have survival value. Colin Wilson in his sci fi novel about Space Vampires, gives a Husserlian account of how consciousness creates reality. When humans thought Pi was 3.14 the world's circumference was less than when that ratio was more accurately calculated! Arendt had a lower IQ than Colin Wilson. But, her political theory was Space Vampires level puerile.
The character of common sense as common owes
to Baldwinian 'channelization'. However some will lack it entirely. That's what the math of evolutionary biology says.
not to something subjective about the individual human being’s consciousness or perceptual faculties but to the intersubjective adjudication of human beings passing judgment in our inescapable plurality.
No. Talking doesn't change reality. The fact is 'the intersubjective' can be as stupid as shit without this impairing practical ability. Even Arendt, with her ridiculous beliefs, could cross the road safely.
For this reason, Arendt concludes, judgment is the central “activity in which this sharing-the-world-with-others comes to pass.”
Very true. If baby doesn't make lots of judgments it won't be able to latch to Mummy's nipple. Also it won't be able to poop.
What killed off the Scottish common sense school was the fact that if you don't get paid to gas on about common sense it is stupid to do so. The Scots are a canny lot.
Here, at last, this foray into the essays of Between Past and Future comes to a positively framed conclusion: There is a possible answer to the mass democratic inclination toward (what we call today) post-truth politics
Politics has always featured strategic, not alethic, arguments. The great mass of voters aint as stupid as Arendt or people who read her. There is no 'post truth' politics. There is a strategic reason to appear unreasonable, if that is what serves your interests best. Also, if the other guys keep banging on about how meat is murder, it feels good to start talking about how the Post Office is actually a Zombie cult run by the neighbor's cat.
and the loss of a common world,
apparently, these nutters lose their common world- at minimum some large continent disappears- if some of us don't vote they way do or think the way they do.
an answer to the opposed tendencies toward loneliness in our (increasingly online) silos
why not choose the Teleparty option on Netflix?
or aggregation into masses that can easily be mobilized as mobs.
This guy keeps getting aggregated into a mob. Hopefully, it's just one of those flash mobs which assembles to lip sync to 'we will rock you' rather than anything more sinister.
This answer, inspired by Arendt’s exercises in political thinking,
which is about how continents suddenly disappear if people vote for Trump or Brexit. Still, at least these guys do flash mob versions of Queen.
is the enactment of democratic citizenship as the exercising of judgment.
these cretins are incapable of exercising shit.
While we tend to believe that we are being good pluralists by refraining from expressing our judgments about controversial matters with neighbors with whom we might disagree, Arendt challenges us to do exactly that, and precisely with those who are least likely to see things just as we do.
Cool. These guys are rapping with the Aryan Brotherhood. That's bound to end well.
Consensus is unlikely to result from entering into an exchange of conflicting judgments about, say, the proper role of government in reproductive health, the prudence of affirmative action in university admissions, or the best way to administer local elections.
Exchanging judgments, as opposed to information, is pointless. A judgment only maters if it can be enforced or has to be appealed. What a Judge decides at the end of a law suit is a judgment. What people think of the judgment is merely an opinion.
Such engagement, however, might do something to restore the conviction that members of our society with whom we have deep differences at least live in the same, common, world.
The vast majority of people know that we live in the same world. Only a small minority think they actually live on Mars.
To be sure, the pathway is narrow, bumpy, and difficult.
Only if you are convinced you live on Mars and need lots and lots of therapy and anti-psychotics to accept that you're just an earth bound mortal like everybody else.
The practice of exercising judgment requires that very common sense upon which a common world is based.
No. Judgment is a protocol bound process. A Judge may know that a guy is guilty but still has to set him free because relevant evidence is inadmissible. Juristic reasoning is 'artificial reason' and has nothing to do with 'common sense' or 'natural deduction'. However, questions of fact may be decided on the basis of practical reason. But, even here, the standard is that of a reasonable man, not what you yourself believe.
And that common sense, in turn, requires a shared understanding of impartiality as the basis of claim making.
There can be no shared understanding of impartiality though there may be a set of protocols such that partiality is assumed and the judge must recuse himself even if he knows himself to be impartial.
Yet it is precisely this sense of impartiality that seems lost to us as we interminably rehash assertions about the subjectivity and objectivity of knowledge claims.
Knowledge claims are either protocol bound or capable of being made so or else they are not informative if not, as with this guy's shite, utterly nonsensical.
Thinking in Concert Against Theory
A way out of this crisis, and this moment of disintegration, requires of humanists in particular (with whom Arendt here identifies herself) that we relearn to assert some sense of authority, grounded in the freedom of thought, that is not opposed to political freedom but actually alone can safeguard it:
The US and the UK- which contained plenty of humanists in positions of authority- were kicking ass and taking names. Hannah's Aunt had nothing to teach them. She was a refugee with a PhD in stupid shite.
“As humanists, we can rise above these conflicts between the statesman and the artist
Hitler was an artist. But Churchill too painted pictures. But that's not why there was a conflict between them.
as we can rise in freedom above the specialties which we all must learn and pursue.… Then we shall know how to reply to those who so frequently tell us that Plato or some other great author of the past has been superseded.”
Okay, perhaps I'm being harsh on these cretins. I'd go a bit mental myself if random dudes kept coming up to me and saying 'Plato has been superseded. Deal with it.'
Arendt argued that, faced with the possibility of a people that is really a “band of brothers”
Henry V's phrase at Agincourt
set up against its excluded “others,” whether in the form of fascism, National Socialism, Bolshevism,
Yankees, Brits, French folk
or, in the present moment, white nationalism,
Black Nationalism, Chinese nationalism, Taliban Nationalism.
we must be especially vigilant about “high” theory,
which shat the bed long ago
with its tendency toward a “tyranny of truth.”
not to mention the despotism of little white lies or the totalitarianism of farting and then holding your nose and looking at me accusingly.
How can this tendency toward tyrannical solutions be resisted, if not overcome?
Fist yourself. Alternatively just shove a Scotch Bonnet up your arse.
About a decade ago, John Levi Martin
which, strangely enough, isn't shite at all
wrote an important book in which he aimed to explain how sociologists—but not only sociologists—devise explanations, often poorly founded and gratuitously obscure, for how and why people do things.
Sociology is what stupid kids study so as to become social workers.
His analysis resonates strongly with Arendt’s central frustration with high theory and the increasingly behavioralist social sciences of the 1950s and 1960s: that is, the refusal to make clear distinctions and an inability to define terms in a rigorous manner.
Tarskian primitives mustn't be defined. Social phenomena are highly complex.
She sees in this a danger not only for the possibilities of communication in the political realm
but politicians don't bother with 'high theory'. LBJ wasn't sitting on the john thumbing through Talcott Parsons.
but for the constitution of the common world.
Crazy nonsense can indeed gain currency in a community, or be forced down its throat, but once people start starving to death or escaping across the border, that crazy nonsense subsides. It is the fitness landscape which weeds out the danger Arendt speaks of.
In “What Is Authority?” Arendt notices that we increasingly grant social and political scholars the “curious right” to ignore distinctions and define terms sloppily.
They enjoy a Hohfeldian immunity in that respect just as we do. Did Arendt think that anytime anybody farted, she had personally accorded that right to that person? Possibly. Fucking Heidegger must rot the brain something fierce.
She gives the examples of “tyranny,” “authority,” and “totalitarianism.” The result, Arendt argues, is that when “we assure ourselves that we still understand each other, we do not mean that together we understand a world common to us all, but that we understand…the process of argumentation in its sheer formality.”
Reality is ideographic. Theory is nomothetic. We understand that when we are argue about a model, we are not speaking of something real. Still, the thing may be useful.
We might, for instance, be able to carry on a conversation about the perniciousness of “alternative facts” without ever bothering to ensure that we share an understanding of what it means to take a claim to be factual.
or an understanding of what understanding means and so forth.
Similarly, individuals might concur that “privacy” is a basic right, with inherent value, without clarifying, even among themselves, what the term privacy means or what a right to privacy entails.
That's fine. What matters is that the thing has been pronounced justiciable. It is up to the Courts, or the Legislature, to work out the relevant Hohfeldian incidents.
In arguing against this tendency, `1
Arendt’s goal is pointedly not the formulation of a fixed theory but, rather,
to just bullshit endlessly so as to get paid a little money.
understanding: an actualized thinking about the common world and its affairs, which can and must be taken up repeatedly in order to account for even more new perspectives.
Why? Surely, if your thinking is properly actualized it can additively accommodate different perspectives. Suppose I am cooking dinner and the g.f says she's bringing two extra guests- one is a vegan and the other has severe nut allergy. If I am a good cook, I should be able to accommodate the new guests without having to start from scratch with a new menu.
This project to correct the arbitrary definition of terms in the social sciences, without any anchor in the common sense of the other stakeholders and the world that can be built and inhabited in common only with and through them, is by no means only of academic concern.
The arbitrary actions of a group are only of concern to that group unless that group has considerable influence or authority. But Germans with PhDs in shite had no fucking influence or authority back in the Fifties or Sixties- or ever.
Academic debates about tyranny, totalitarianism, or authority (and indeed authoritarianism) do not
occur where those things exist and are utterly futile where they don't
simply end in isolated scholarly discourses
of immense stupidity
that lack any shared basis for judgment;
because what is being discussed is far away and cartoon like
they reverberate in hotly contested elections for local school boards,
The Maoists are battling the Aryan Brotherhood for control of the local nursery school.
in calls for parental ownership of reading lists in middle and high schools and parental control of displays and holdings in school libraries,
That's totes Fascist!
and in a wave of new legislation proposed in state legislatures around “academic freedom” and the teaching of critical race theory.
Liberal Professors are being sent to Gulags. This is causing the other inmates to kill themselves because academics smell bad.
Arendt argues that the ability to act politically—in principle given to all human beings by virtue of their birth—is constrained by
political ability. Some peeps have it. Others don't. This is true now and it was true thousands of years ago.
the conditions of modern life, with professionalization and its compartmentalization as one key element of that constraint.
That's how come a real estate developer can't become President- right?
To act responsibly, human beings
require a practical capacity to make themselves visible to their fellows
which is only a problem if you happen to be a ghost
in order, together, to open up the shared world in their unique ways.
Fuck off! You don't have to be be visible or audible or even identifiable to act responsibly or politically or whatever.
which is a type of thinking
is facilitated by the ability to think politically,
which is a type of thinking
if only that ability is actually practiced,
so , thinking is facilitated by thinking only if some thinking is actually done. What an amazing discovery!
such that reflective judgment is actually exercised in public.
Nonsense! You can do your reflective judgment while taking a dump ally by yourself.
For Arendt, this is both the means and the end of her own “exercises in political thinking,” which are intended to help political actors understand the common world and communicate in it in a common political language.
Did any 'political actors' find her shite useful? No. She was simply wrong about how politics works. The thing is about making deals and building coalitions and log rolling and...most importantly, raising money.
These exercises are the ongoing practice of reflection in which we engage together with her as we read, accept, reject, and modify her judgments in conversation with her work and that of others. When we do so, we and she are not “doing theory”; rather, we are thinking in concert against theory.
That is itself a theory- a stupid one.
If we acknowledge that for Arendt, theorizing was an attempt to think about and understand phenomena of the world,
and that she failed because she was as stupid as shit
and that her judging was more a practice than a theory, we notice that she aimed not to display a theory of judgment for others to implement but to
earn a little money writing hysterical shite
describe a lived experience of judging as political thinking and to explore ways we can make the common world better.
But she didn't make the world better. She wrote stupid shite.
Or, of course, fail in the attempt to do so. The core of this experience is uncertainty.
In which case we should adopt a regret minimizing course. Don't make judgments unless you are paid to do so.
There is no human being in the world who always makes the right judgment.
The right judgment is not to judge unless that is what you are paid to do in which case you follow the relevant protocols.
We never know in a particular present moment if our judgment is “right” or if the future will confirm its truthfulness.
We don't know if our expectations are correct. But judgments aren't expectations.
Unlike that human birthright, action, the ability to judge
Judging is an action. Don't do it if you aren't paid to do it.
requires development and improvement.
all types of actions- walking, pissing, talking- require development and improvement which is why babies can't get jobs in Cost and Management Accountancy till they are at least nine months old.
Since the common world is a political space
No. The common world is not a political space. It is a social space. The political space is much smaller and few of us interact with it over the course of a lifetime. Good mechanism design- checks and balances etc- reduce the salience of the political. Belgium can go for without a government for a year or two without any major problem.
that people share with one another in its plurality,
Fuck off! Why would we want to share boring shite about fiscal and monetary policy and endless rounds of trade negotiations?
and since this world is by definition subject to constant change and development, the potential exercise of political judgment is never fully actualized.
A hundred years ago, some nutters thought workers would like to run the factories where they worked. They didn't. Business management is boring. But Politics is even more boring. The smaller the number of people who have to do it, the better.
The wealth of perspectives that can be taken into account expands again and again,
Lots and lots of shitty points of view don't represent 'wealth'. A big pile of shit is just shit piled high.
and varies depending on the question the person making the judgment aims to address.
The point about judging is that the judge is told what to address and is paid, one way or another, to follow the relevant protocols.
Political thinking is therefore not a competence acquired once and for all, but must be grasped in its shifting dynamics. All this, though, is merely one judgment. What, Arendt asks, is yours?
Our judgment is that Arendt was stupid and had nothing to say but needed to earn a bit of money by writing in a hysterical manner. After all, she didn't have a penis and thus- in the America of Doris Day and Rock Hudson- was perfectly cast as the dim bint with a German PhD who, reassuringly, had less brain than boobage.
Post a Comment