Saturday, 23 January 2016

Three philosophical types

How far can you condense your impressions of reading a philosopher without distorting them altogether? Here's an attempt at a brief, playful (or should I say dreamlike?) characterization of Zizek, Honneth and Derrida. I've turned them into three types, but I think they are still quite recognizable behind their masks.

The virtuoso pianist: Hegel is his material. He chooses his theme from it, develops it, and repeats it to put together his own impromptu composition. He plays Hegel like one plays a piano. What matters is not to produce a correct interpretation. In fact, the result is not an exegesis, but a tune.

The medium: We're in the middle of a séance. The planchette slides over the text in this direction or the other, seemingly without the interference of a knowing subject, opening up to ghosts and occult powers. Yet rather than producing a meaningful text, the effect is to destabilize it. The slightest association is enough to erase the spectral message that, for a moment, transfixed you.

The shipbuilder: There exist huge structures that are no longer in vogue and no longer seem to fulfill any function. Yet builders still exist, faithful to the inherited form: a composer writing a symphony, a government building a battleship, or a philosopher building a philosophical system. They refuse to go along with the norm of functionality. What attracts them is not the sturdiness of the structure, because they know it's fragile. That's why they're so keen on getting every nail right. Perhaps they do it for the joy and excitement of launching the vessel and seeing if it will hold water or sink.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.