You are on page 1of 4

English 3QQ3 Midterm Review

Examined Life: Astra Taylor - Today, now, here important to Astra Taylor, Whatever thinking is Astra Taylor is showing us at different times and places. The importance to all of that is that thinking is always located, situated, it happens in a place and in a time. That is the lesson is to beware of those thinkers, thought, theories that claim to have no situation that claim to come as if out of nowhere. Beware of those idolatries that claim to be simply given, without time. Cornel West - While In conversation with Astra Taylor he is conversing with many other dead people by mentioning them: Plato, Socrates, Sophocles ect. - The problem with the dead is that you cant shut them up, that is why we love the dead. When having conversations with the dead you are much more alive than people walking around with no intellectual interrogation and questioning going on at all. - Thinking happens, if it happens at all in a place and time and because of that it is informed by that place and time. Think about the ways in which the context for the thought shape the thought. Those thoughts are moving if they are worthy of the name. Destined for other places, other times, other thinkers. - No thought is only anchored to its situation, a thought worthy of that name is in movement. Not only is the thinker situated, so to is the listener. How you take up the thoughts in this course, is powerfully inflected by where you are, your own histories, the social class in which you are a member, history, values, and many other things shape how you take up the theory. Know theory that is reducible and without context. - Universities: Important to remember you and I are creatures of an institution that is conserving in nature, unevenly conserving. The thing that Cornell west models for you is to be the creature of the university draw everything you possibly can from it but be in a complicated and vexed relationship with it, agitate it. - intimate relationship between the corporate elites who rule and the universities who are financially dependant on their wealth. That is why West does not think of universities as places for serious radical poltical action, radical political ideas, and so on. - You do not have to go to school to be a philosopher. It takes tremendous discipline, tremendous courage to think for yourself, to examine yourself. - Pleasure is always presupposing and assuming a certain kind of social order, one usually shot through structures of domination - Being truly a human being means baring witness to the suffering of others. Condition of truth is to let suffering speak. (Adorno). To make the suffering of others legible to others. The lesson is to move the thought of truth to practice, we must move a question of knowledge, what is truth to question of ethics: what are our obligations to others? What do we owe others? We must move from thinking to doing. - We live in a market driven world, driven by production and consumption, schooled into believing it is more important to be a consumer than a citizen and within that world everything gets leveled out. Flatten things down, flatten all of those moments that allow us to deal with death in various forms. Life on the surface driven by cash nexus and profit making. Everything can be bought and sold, everything has a price except for one thing, a provocation that cannot

English 3QQ3 Midterm Review

be sold and bought and remain what it is, and that is our obligation to other, Kant called it respect. For justice to be what it is it cannot be bought or sold, this is what interested West. - West says to think about a way of life, much to say truth is a way of life is a revolutionary statement. Even to speak about ways of life is to remind each of us that we are living life, we are living ways of life. We can live our lives differently, we are not doomed to one way of life. To a greater and lesser degree the way of life that we live is something in our control, we can choose to live our life in a particular way. It is hard, and it is work, a day by day process. - Truth is a way of life and mode of existence. Truth tied to mystery because human beings are unable to ever gain monopoly on truth. We have access to truths but they could be wrong, must leave ourselves open to revision. Once you give up trying to fully grasp the way the world is, youre going to ask how you can sustain a journey towards truth. - West is reminding us of Platos wonderful lesson that a life that does not include a careful examination of your life is not worth living. In what way does that distinguish us from the animals? Plato states animals cannot consider their way of life, they are doomed to their way of life. Whereas human beings have the capacity by reason to make their way of life a part of their life. We are creatures who live with others, who must live with ourselves, all part of the ways of life. - moving from the superficial to the substantial, promoting a maturation of the soul - Notion that life is a practice, it is something that you cultivate in yourself and with others, rather than something that is thrown at you. - Finitude: you are a creature capable of change and growth, but no possibility of transformation that does not also involve a possibility of failure, you can transform backwards. Only a finitude life is a life of transformation. Finitude = limit signifying the fact that we are not masters of the universe - Philosophy is fundamentally about our finite situation, were beings towards death. It is also about our lived experiences, life in a variety of different contexts. - Plato: philosophy is a meditation on and a preperation for death. West says no, we are halfway towards life. To live life as if you are half dead, half in love with death, what pleasure is in that? - Montaigne: Cant talk about truth without talking about learning how to die, examining yourself and transforming your old self into a better self, that you actually live more intensley and critically and abundantley. - We live in a world characterized by dogmatism (the tendency to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others) - attempts to hold onto certainty, forms of idolatry (extreme worship) - To love the past, to love history, is to remain open to what can come from it. Just because it is in the past does not mean it is over. - love is central to any philosophers discourse, no philosophizing without a love of wisdom - West at the end of the interview, speaks of faithfulness. Because he is a Christian philosopher, he recalls a line from Luke, if the son of man returns to earth will he find any faith? Amid terrific disappointment and discouragement there is an affirmation of faith and the future. He is not strictly speaking of religious faith, but all other forms of faithfulness that have nothing to do

English 3QQ3 Midterm Review

with religion. There is a fiduciary dimension of being human in which we all need some degree of trustworthiness to go forward in some way. A relationship of truth is intrinsic, it is not really about trust unless you are exposed and vulnerable, no trust without possibility of trust being broken or it would not be trust worthy of the name unless it was fragile. - Being prophetic has to do with mustering the courage to love, empathize, exercise compassion, and to be committed to justice. Fundamentally means this attempt to courageously live and speak on behalf of the dejected, those who humanity has rendered invisible. Condition of truth is allowing suffering to speak, means you have prophetic sensibility, are committed to loving others which means you hate injustice - The language that we think and write and speak in we did not invent, we are indebted to it. - Non violence and the mediation of conflict by means of respecting civility must be promoted - He resists longing for more or some wholeness or harmony. This notion that we had it all or ever will have it all has got to go, push that aside and it will evacuate the language of dissapointment. Some things you cant do, have to accept that. Instead ask: What have we done and how have we been able to do it? Avital Ronell - She wants Taylor to examine the film she has put together. For this really to be an exercise in thinking, so expects and encourages an audience that is brilliant, open, vulnerable, prepared to co produce genius. She says that coproduction would include people who would find the film utterly boring. This too has its place. There is no way to anticipate how what youre thinking and saying will be taken up. - Were on a path, following a method that is not determined or programed. That is not to say it is a pure accident. We are only creatures who live amongst the flow of time, the future and past moving through us. Not everything is pure accident. - Your destiny is to remain ignorance of your destination. Your peculiar destiny as a human being is not to know your destination. If you know exactly where you were going in all circumstances, you would not be human. - Writing is a world of mediation, of displacement. Writing has always been associated with the secondary. It promotes forgetting. - Hierarchy between speech and writing: Speech is considered presence and fulness and immediacy. Speech was living. Writing is always what lags behind, needs to be denied. Considered to be on the side of death, always the degraded one. Hamlet example. - She is part of a philosophical movement that affirms a life of mediation, that says even though when we speak to each other it feels like we are present with each other, in fact our communications are entirely mediated. - All aspects of human life including spoken and intimate relationships are also mediated. You are not truly present to your experience, it has to be captured or deadened then present to you from the other. Experience as such no longer carries authority. - It is hard to think outside of institutionally sanctioned spaces. We live in a culture that says here is the little place you are allowed to think. A classroom is its own worst enemy, contains thinking. University aligns with the notion that thinking can only happen in a sanctioned space.The notion is there is only one place to think, outside is where you work, real life. She

English 3QQ3 Midterm Review

rallies against the notion of containing thinking, we should be encouraged and permitted to think all over the place. It is your duty as theorists to try and open a little private war against the state because no one cares, because the prime minister cannot hear you, you must speak. - It is your duty to be very loud, say what you think, express your sense of scandal and disappointment and do it with a lot of integrity even if you are convinced no one is listening. - The longing for meaning, transparent availability for truth. She feels the pull of it, but suspicious of it. It is not a choice to live meaningfully or meaninglessness, false choice but a choice presented to us. Meaning is brought to a given incident, structure or theme in ones life to cover up the wound of non meaning. The craving for meaning is misused by power guzzlers, or people towards dubious ends. The clamor for meaning is a sign of weakness, everyone wants it to back up finite often impoverished existence. Why reduce things to meaning rather than allowing for the arbitrary eruption of something that cannot be grasped? When you slep meaning into things it reduces and darkens it. Life in its complexity sometimes eludes meaning, things happen that you cannot account for. If something did have a meaning that could be decided on, we would not be called to go over it ethically, review things, question them. This requires us to be all over it, not to assume we have been able to master something. - Attack all the presuppositions and precomprehensions with which we think. Hermeneutic cycle: You have already understood what you are about to learn, hard to break the circle and ask: what does it mean to understand? - Consider someone who is in a stupor: those who fail to understand. Sacred being who knows nothing of this world, who has no apparent interiority or demand, who simply and stupidly is. - It is impossible to ever be fully responsible because you are never done being responsible, never given or offered or done enough for those suffering. One never meets their responsibility quota, which is set at an infinite bar. - phallogocentric: Derrida. to what extent we have inherited, and are marked by, thinking and habits and cultural institutions that are constituted by the fantasy of the phallus. Philosophy is dependent on the exclusion or withdrawal of women. - The Other: You cannot presume to know or grasp the other, the minute you do youre ready to kill them. To be vigilant: to acknowledge that we havent understood and that we understand we havent understood. More frustrating, but necessary. A lot of people have been fed by instant gratification, we have to practice refusing that gratification without succumbing to pessimism. - Reducibility of language to little signals of messages is something that is an effect of technology and changes our rapport of being. Peter Singer