On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis

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Edmund Husserl and the Crisis of Europe

In other words, we would like to create a space for those minimal, minor writings that remain at the margins of philosophical forums and beyond the frontiers of academic publishing: a philosophy of the margins and for the margins. More detailed instructions and guidelines for contributions are available below. Crisis and Critique - Call for Contributions. We live in critical times. And yet, is crisis really the emblematic concept of our late modernity? What have been the various manifestations as well as conceptual deployments of crisis over time, and what do they reveal about the specificities of our contemporary age?

What political mechanisms are activated by the use of 'crisis' as a discourse and conceptual framework? As well as the beginning of the work of critique, is crisis not also a key instrument of populism, and a very useful tool in the politics of fear? Do we not have reasons to be suspicious, if not fearful, of the rhetoric of crisis itself, and, following the example of sociologists as diverse as Ulrich Beck, Jean Baudrillard or Niklas Luhman, reject the vocabulary of crisis and critique as obsolete and possibly even complacent?

Crisis and Critique

Is the narrative of crisis in crisis itself? These constitute at the same time the fund of premises for an endless horizon of tasks united into one all-embracing task. Here, however, an important supplementary remark should be made. In science the ideality of what is produced in any particular instance means more than the mere capacity for repetition based on a sense that has been guaranteed as identical; the idea of truth in the scientific sense is set apart and of this we have still to speak from the truth proper to pre-scientific life.

Scientific truth claims to be unconditioned truth, which involves infinity, giving to each factually guaranteed truth a merely relative character, making it only an approach oriented, in fact, toward the infinite horizon, wherein the truth in itself is, so to speak, looked on as an infinitely distant point. A fortiori, there is infinity involved in 'universal' validity for 'everyone', as the subject of whatever rational foundations are to be secured; nor is this any longer everyone in the finite sense the term has in prescientific life.

Having thus characterized the ideality peculiar to science, with the ideal infinities variously implied in the very sense of science, we are faced, as we survey the historical situation, with a contrast that we express in the following proposition: no other cultural form in the pre-philosophical historical horizon is a culture of ideas in the above-mentioned sense; none knows any infinite tasks - none knows of such universes of idealities that as wholes and in all their details, as also in their methods of production, bear within themselves an essential infinity.

Extra-scientific culture, not yet touched by science, is a task accomplished by man in finitude. The openly endless horizon around him is not made available to him. His aims and activities, his commerce and his travel, his personal, social, national, mythical motivation - all this moves about in an environing world whose finite dimensions can be viewed. Here there are no infinite tasks, no ideal attainments whose very infinity is man's field of endeavor - a field of endeavor such that those who work in it are conscious that it has the mode of being proper to such an infinite sphere of tasks.

With the appearance of Greek philosophy, however, and with its first definite formulation in a consistent idealizing of the new sense of infinity, there occurs, from this point of view, a progressive transformation that ultimately draws into its orbit all ideas proper to finitude and with them the entire spiritual culture of mankind. For us Europeans there are, consequently, even outside the philosophico-scientific sphere, any number of infinite ideas if we may use the expression , but the analogous character of infinity that they have infinite tasks, goals, verifications, truths, 'true values', 'genuine goods', 'absolutely' valid norms is due primarily to the transformation of man through philosophy and its idealities.

Scientific culture in accord with ideas of infinity means, then, a revolutionizing of all culture, a revolution that affects man's whole manner of being as a creator of culture. It means also a revolutionizing of historicity, which is now the history of finite humanity's disappearance, to the extent that it grows into a humanity with infinite tasks. Here we meet the obvious objection that philosophy, the science of the Greeks, is not, after all, distinctive of them, something which with them first came into the world.

They themselves tell of the wise Egyptians, Babylonians, etc. Today we possess all sorts of studies on Indian, Chinese, and other philosophies, studies that place these philosophies on the same level with Greek philosophy, considering them merely as different historical formulations of one and the same cultural idea.

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Of course, there is not lacking something in common. Still, one must not allow intentional depths to be covered over by what is merely morphologically common and be blind to the most essential differences of principle. Before anything else, the attitude of these two kinds of 'philosophers', the overall orientation of their interests, is thoroughly different. Here and there one may observe a world-embracing interest that on both sides including, therefore, the Indian, Chinese and other like 'philosophies' leads to universal cognition of the world, everywhere developing after the manner of a sort of practical vocational interest and for quite intelligible reasons leading to vocational groups, in which from generation to generation common results are transmitted and even developed.

Only with the Greeks, however, do we find a universal 'cosmological' vital interest in the essentially new form of a purely 'theoretical' attitude. These are the men who, not isolated but with each other and for each other, i. These are the ones whose growth and constant improvement ultimately, as the circle of cooperators extends and the generations of investigators succeed each other, become a will oriented in the direction of an infinite and completely universal task.

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The theoretical attitude has its historical origin in the Greeks. Speaking generally, attitude bespeaks a habitually, determined manner of vital willing, wherein the will's directions or interests, its aims and its cultural accomplishments, are preindicated and thus the overall orientation determined. In this enduring orientation taken as a norm, the individual life is lived. The concrete cultural contents change in a relatively enclosed historicity. In its historical situation mankind or the closed community, such as a nation, a race, etc. Its life always has a normative orientation and within this a steady historicity or development.

Thus if the theoretical attitude in its newness is referred back to a previous, more primitive normative attitude, the theoretical is characterized as a transformed attitude. In this regard we are speaking of the natural, the native attitude, of originally natural life, of the first primitively natural form of cultures - be they higher or lower, uninhibitedly developing or stagnating.

All other attitudes, then, refer back to these natural ones as transformations of them. How are we, then, to characterize the essentially primitive attitude, the fundamental historical mode of human existence?

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Thematic is that toward which man's attention is turned. Being genuinely alive is always having one's attention turned to this or that, turned to something as to an end or a means, as relevant or irrelevant, interesting or indifferent, private or public, to something that is in daily demand or to something that is startlingly new.

All this belongs to the world horizon, but there is need of special motives if the one who is caught up in such a life in the world is to transform himself and it to come to the point where he somehow makes this world itself his theme, where he conceives an enduring interest in it.

But here more detailed explanations are needed. Individual human beings who change their attitudes as human beings belonging to their own general vital community their nation , have their particular natural interests each his own. These they can by no change in attitude simply lose; that would mean for each ceasing to be the individual he is, the one he has been since birth.

No matter what the circumstances, then, the transformed attitude can only be a temporary one. It can take on a lasting character that will endure as a habit throughout an entire life only in the form of an unconditional determination of will to take up again the selfsame attitudes in a series of periods that are temporary but intimately bound together.

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It will mean that by virtue of a continuity that bridges intentionally the discreteness involved, men will hold on to the new type of interests as worth being realized and will embody them in corresponding cultural forms. We are familiar with this sort of thing in the occupations that make their appearance even in a naturally primitive form of cultural life, where there are temporary periods devoted to the occupation, periods that interrupt the rest of life with its concrete temporality e.

Now, there are two possibilities. On the one hand, the interests of the new attitude will be made subservient to the natural interests of life, or what is essentially the same, to natural practicality. In this case the new attitude is itself a practical one. This, then, can have a sense similar to the practical attitude of the politician, who as a state functionary is attentive to the common good and whose attitude, therefore, is to serve the practical interests of all and incidentally his own.

This sort of thing admittedly still belongs to the domain of the natural attitude, which is, of course, different for different types of community members and is in fact one thing for the leaders of the community and another for the 'citizens' - both obviously understood in the broadest sense. In any event, the analogy makes it clear that the universality of a practical attitude, in this case one that embraces a whole world, need in no way signify being interested in and occupied with all the details and particularities of that world - it would obviously be unthinkable.

On Philosophy: Notes From a Crisis, by John McCumber - Semantic Scholar

In contrast to the higher-level practical attitude there exists, however, still another essential possibility of a change in the universal natural attitude with which we shall soon become acquainted in its type, the mythical-religious attitude , which is to say, the theoretical attitude - a name being given to it, of course, only provisionally, because in this attitude philosophical theoria must undergo a development and so become its proper aim or field of interest. The theoretical attitude, even though it too is a professional attitude, is thoroughly unpractical.

Thus it is based on a deliberate epoche from all practical interests, 32 and consequently even those of a higher level, that serve natural needs within the framework of a life's occupation governed by such practical interests. Still, it must at the same time be said that there is no question here of a definitive 'cutting off' of the theoretical life from the practical. We are not saying that the concrete life of the theoretical thinker falls into two disconnected vital continuities partitioned off from each other, which would mean, socially speaking, that two spiritually unconnected spheres would come into existence.

For there is still a third form of universal attitude possible in contrast both to the mythical-religious, which is based on the natural, and to the theoretical attitudes. It is the synthesis of opposing interests that occurs in the transition from the theoretical to the practical attitude. In this way thoeria the universal science , whose growth has manifested a tight unity through an epoche from all practical considerations, is called upon and even proves in a theoretical insight 33 that it is called upon to serve humanity in a new way, first of all in its concrete existence as it continues to live naturally.

ariclewchistkal.tk This takes place in the form of a new kind of practical outlook, a universal critique of all life and of its goals, of all the forms and systems of culture that have already grown up in the life of mankind. This brings with it a critique of mankind itself and of those values that explicitly or implicitly guide it. Carrying it to a further consequence, it is a practical outlook whose aim is to elevate mankind through universal scientific reason in accord with norms of truth in every form, and thus to transform it into a radically new humanity made capable of an absolute responsibility to itself on the basis of absolute theoretical insights.

Here the primitively natural attitude and the theoretical are joined together in an orientation toward finite goals.

For a profounder understanding of Greco-European science universally speaking, this means philosophy in its fundamental difference from the equally notable oriental 'philosophies', it is now necessary to consider in more detail the practically universal attitude, and to explain it as mythical-religious, an attitude that, prior to European science, brings those other philosophies into being. It is a well-known fact, to say nothing of an essentially obvious necessity, that mythical-religious motives and a mythical-religious practice together belong to a humanity living naturally - before Greek philosophy, and with it a scientific world view, entered on the scene and matured.

A mythical-religious attitude is one that takes as its theme the world as a totality - a practical theme. The world in this case is, of course, one that has a concrete, traditional significance for the men in question let us say, a nation and is thus mythically apperceived.

This sort of mythical-natural attitude embraces from the very first not only men and animals and other infrahuman and infra-animal beings Wesen but also the suprahuman. The view that embraces them as a totality is a practical one; not, however, as though man, whose natural life, after all, is such that he is actually interested only in certain realities, could ever have come to the point where everything together would suddenly and in equal degree take on practical relevance.

Rather, to the extent that the whole world is looked upon as dominated by mythical powers and to the extent that human destiny depends immediately or mediately on the way these powers rule in the world, a universally mythical world view may have its source in practicality and is, then, itself a world view, whose interests are practical. It is understandable that priests belonging to a priesthood in charge of both mythical-religious interests and of the traditions belonging to them should have motives for such a mythical-religious attitude.

With this priesthood these arises and spreads the linguistically solidified 'knowledge' of these mythical powers in the broadest sense though of as personal. At the same time, obviously, attention is constantly directed also to the ordinary world ruled by these mythical powers and to the human and infrahuman beings belonging to it these, incidentally, unsettled in their own essential being, are also open to the influence of mythical factors.

This attention looks to the ways in which the powers control the events of this world, the manner in which they themselves must be subject to a unified supreme order of power, the manner in which they with regard to individual functions and functioners intervene by initiating and carrying out, by handing down decrees of fate.

All this speculative knowledge however, has as its purpose to serve man toward his human aims, to enable him to live the happiest possible life on earth, to protect that life from sickness, from misfortune, need and death. It is understandable that in this mythico-practical approach to knowing the world there can arise not a little knowledge of the actual world, of the world known in a sort of scientific experience, a knowledge subsequently to be subjected to a scientific evaluation.

Still, this sort of knowledge is and remains mythico-practical in its logical connections, and it is a mistake for someone brought up in the scientific modes of thought initiated in Greece and progressively developed in modern times to speak of Indian and Chinese philosophy astronomy, mathematics and thus to interpret India, Babylonia, and China in a European way.

There is a sharp cleavage, then, between the universal but mythico-practical attitude and the 'theoretical', which by every previous standard is unpractical, the attitude of thaumazein [Gr. Men are gripped by a passion for observing and knowing the world, a passion that turns from all practical interests and in the closed circle of its own knowing activities, in the time devoted to this sort of investigation, accomplishes and wants to accomplish only pure theoria In other words, man becomes the disinterested spectator, overseer of the world, he becomes a philosopher.

More than that, from this point forward his life gains a sensitivity for motives which are possible only to this attitude, for novel goals and methods of thought, in the framework of which philosophy finally comes into being and man becomes philosopher.

On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis
On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis
On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis
On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis
On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis
On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis
On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis On Philosophy: Notes from a Crisis

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