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October 27, 2004

from dailiness to a natural sense of “lifeworld”

Appropriations posting

Take 1: Writer can’t cease treating his life as a discursive formation

Dear Jürgen,

I’m so delighted to be writing you. I write, therefore I am?

I’m ultimately, to you, a text of a particular life that hardly appears at all, except inasmuch as I become “the writer” becoming autobiography (always so selective), if not confession (selective, too). You write of Kierkegaard, but what about the authorship of being “Habermas”?

My days are generally beautiful, my life is largely happy. All the suffering in the world is heartrending. But I’m doing well, giving what I can.

So much to say, so little time.

Generality about the lifeworld comes thin. On the one hand, even the generalizing pretense of conceptualization is inevitably perspectival. Of what one says of generality—supposedly of generality—a reader decides what’s appealing or appropriate for their experience. The truth of the generality seems ultimately to be a claim about what’s normative (like lexicality), inasmuch as it claims independence of my life, notwithstanding my own exemplarity (which isn’t for me to assess). In this respect, I’ll give you my view and hope that it’s useful—to what scale, I can only discover through others, maybe you. Dear Jürgen.

On the other hand, general statements can be validly made. A discursive formation (e.g., conceptualization of “the lifeworld”) expresses an aggregate generality of understanding that has a genealogy, i.e., that was emergent from countless interactive agreements (or adoptions—or acquiescences) about what the topic matter is (a genealogical emergence).

Given fairness to the concept, one pretends to contribute to the formation, i.e., to the generality or generalizability of the discursive topic and is evaluated tacitly by influence (or, very likely, the lack of influence).

Yet validity isn’t a matter of mere opinion. Failure of influence may be due not to the invalidity of the contribution, but to reader conditions of appropriation. For example, one is likely to not read you insightfully (often not even very accurately). So, “you” must decide about the promise of your not yet being understood. Validity claims go both ways: Critique of something difficult is likely invalid (which is news to young scholars).

The discursive formation is the institutionalized pretense of “generally speaking.” But seldom can a discursive formation pretend to empirical generality. Discursive generality is always historical (though statements about discourses may have empirical merit). The reality of living discursive formations is that they are, at best, really evolving. That evolving is thinly generalizable as well—maybe not generalizable at all, analogous to the developmentality of a life: One may generalize over the life, but what’s the generality of the life across lives? What’s its exemplarity? Besides, self-inquiry into the life (necessary for generalizing about it) effects the character of the life, maybe even its feeling for telos or Career (in a lifespanned sense of what one is doing with one’s life).

So, inquiry into the evolutionarity of a discursive formation affects the character of the formation’s self-formativity.

Dear Jürgen, life is so strange.

Discursive formations (e.g., recognized theory of “the lifeworld”) have perdurance. The validity of their generality may be generatively normative (flowering the generality of some exemplarity), by grace of its continuing influence and its furtherance by inquirer contributions.

The discursive formation lives like a manifold authorship on the waters of others’ time.

I might hope to contribute to the “generality” of thought about the lifeworld, but whatever understanding is sustainable (which is the reality of existential generality—like the bestseller that stays up the list beyond 15 minutes) depends, first, on the historicity of the concept inherited by the inquirer; then the sustainability depends on what the trace of further inquiry—the writing—shows: the effective historicality of its persistence as further forming of the topic (the conceptual topos).

October 19, 2004

a matter of appropriation

Appropriations posting

A philosopher’s difficult texts (or theorist’s texts, e.g., Habermas at his most Habermasian, Derrida as most Derridean) are at least a transformative mirror that reflects back to readers anewly parts of the world they bring to the reading, reframed in the text’s readerly influence—maybe this more than getting the difficult author’s intended meaning (though that, too). This point isn’t difficult; I’m not here referring to my own text. But difficulty is a topic in its own right, as George Steiner has explicated for literary reading, and as any curriculum designer knows. Any significant writer appreciates this, too.

In the mix of real conveyance and unwitting mirror, construal of the difficult (or highly literary) “author’s” meaning is a fruitful experience that may have more to do with the reader’s self-interest in thinking newly than with what the author is intending to do. I’ve seen this so often in others’ readings of Habermas (and just wish that others would show me how I may be an instance of this dynamic with Habermas, if I am, please). Psychoanalytic transference belongs as much to the silent text as to the face-to-face session.

Conversely, the exemplary writer likely appropriates her/his way of thinking to an idealized specificity of others, rather than simply representing the way of thinking. Excellent writing is not “I” inserting myself in the world, rather an interpersonal venture of making oneself understood in the authorship of the writing.

So, appropriativity in writing and reading is not about the obscurity of thinking (or some hermetic condition), rather the appropriating is integral to what learning and writing is. This fact makes the hermeneutical interest no mere period concern in the history of thought. Whatever regard one has for explicit hermeneutical foci, the phenomena of bridgework are inescapable, as interpretation in understanding is inescapable.

Writing is an event of appropriation—and very different from the work that leads to it (which is writerly in its own way—probably obscure, if only because shorthand terminology gets heuristic, and heuristics may hybridize among themselves into neologisms that may gain an efficiency analogous to mathematical functions in the conceptual researcher’s inventiveness of exploration).

The original work gets translated. Reading is always translation. Translation is an event of appropriation.

October 11, 2004

living IRT: in relation to [whatever]

Appropriations posting

I am in love with living!

So, I might better do “literary” writing than what I do: worrying as much as I do about general accessibility irt conceptual inquiry (‘irt’ for “in relation to” is so much easier than “vis-à-vis”).

Decades ago, I discovered that “phenomenology” is really better called thematology, and I became a thematologist, at first doing a literary anthropological kind of exploration of the rhetoric of “Continental” philosophy in English—not doing rhetoric with the language of philosophy, but living the rhetoricality of philosophy—which grew into a Heideggerian appropriation of Habermasian thinking, including a Derridean deconstructionist appropriation of the Habermasian sense of critique.

But the times evolved that into something, someone unnamed.

“He gets bored with his own voice and moves on,” said Thom Whitby of me, my oldest friend (dead).

“Take on a new name,” he said, “create an approach to philosophy in that.”

So, what, whom has “Gary” become?

October 10, 2004

Derrida is dead.

Appropriations posting

[from The New York Times, Jonathan Kandell, Oct. 10. “Jacques Derrida, Abstruse Theorist, Dies in Paris at 74”}


He could be an indifferent student. He failed his baccalaureate in his first attempt. He twice failed his entrance exam to the École Normal Supérieure, the traditional cradle of French intellectuals, where he was finally admitted in 1952. There he failed the oral portion of his final exams on his first attempt. After graduation in 1956, he studied briefly at Harvard University. For most of the next 30 years, he taught philosophy and logic at both the University of Paris and the École Normal Supérieure. Yet he did not defend his doctoral dissertation until 1980, when he was 50 years old.


As a lecturer, Mr. Derrida cultivated charisma and mystery. For many years, he declined to be photographed for publication. He cut a dashing, handsome figure at the lectern, with his thick thatch of prematurely white hair, tanned complexion, and well-tailored suits. He peppered his lectures with puns, rhymes and enigmatic pronouncements, like, “Thinking is what we already know that we have not yet begun,” or, “Oh my friends, there is no friend.”


A 1993 paper he presented at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, in New York, began: “Needless to say, one more time, deconstruction, if there is such a thing, takes place as the experience of the impossible.”


Mitchell Stephens, a journalism professor at New York University, wrote in a 1994 article in The New York Times Magazine: “Many otherwise unmalicious people have in fact been guilty of wishing for deconstruction's demise—if only to relieve themselves of the burden of trying to understand it.”


As a young man, Mr. Derrida confessed, he hoped to become a professional soccer player. And he admitted to being an inveterate viewer of television, watching everything from news to soap operas. “I am critical of what I’m watching,” said Mr. Derrida with mock pride. “I deconstruct all the time.”

Late in his career, Mr. Derrida was asked, as he had been so often, what deconstruction was. “Why don't you ask a physicist or a mathematician about difficulty?” he replied, frostily, to Dinitia Smith, a Times reporter, in a 1998 interview. “Deconstruction requires work. If deconstruction is so obscure, why are the audiences in my lectures in the thousands? They feel they understand enough to understand more.”

Asked later in the same interview to at least define deconstruction, Mr. Derrida said: “It is impossible to respond. I can only do something which will leave me unsatisfied.”

Ultimacy: Mystery

Appropriations posting

If you would say “God created the universe,” then the more you know about what is known about the universe, the more you should have to conclude that God doesn’t know we exist, let alone affects what happens on Earth.

The more you know about life as such (on Earth), the more you should have to conclude that Earth isn’t the only locus of intellligent life—more than that: Earth is a relatively late planet (around a relatively new star). The evidence clearly (for science) indicates that stars of our generation (a lineage including the complex elements) have been around for billions of years prior to the Sun. If anything can really be the angels, it is the stars, for real. Yet, the stars know nothing; they just are—and are in a space-time that is incomprehensibly far away from its Beginning.

To pray is to belong anewly to what a star has made eonically possible as our incubator Earth that is unknown beyond us. To pray is to belong to the intelligence of the Earth and what the days have granted us.

Dear Earth, dear Sun, I am thankful to our being, for my lifeworld that is flourishing (or may flourish again).

Yes, I presume that we’re not the only intelligent planet in the galaxy, though we’re epistemically alone in the universe so far—probably because we’re not really ready to meet any intelligent “angels”—not ready for Prime Time, haven’t come of age, can’t yet recognize how it is that the Contact Constellation gains new members (though our fantasy life about their presumed existence helps us write our own futurity).

Will the Contact be terrifying (“War of the Worlds”) or wondrous (“Close Encounter of the Third Kind”)? Well, it won’t be a visitation.

Anyway, such mystery of the absolute others is our penultimate one (while the ultimate one is the universe ipso facto).

We are the humans of the universe, the humans in the universe, nervously whistling in the dark via pop culture, where the Other is recognizable, appreciable—almost a peer (even when presumed to be more powerful).

Though there’s a few million years between us and monkeys, there’s only a few thousand between us and, say, Amazon tribes (before prospectors brought them running shoes, etc.). Where will We be in a thousand years? At our rate, what becomes of intelligent life in 10,000 years? Only lame fantasy can venture. But it’s quite clear that intelligent life becomes what it can imagine which becomes realistic. Fly? We are the leading birds. Govern our own evolution? We scold our kind for striving to become gods.

What becomes of geometrically evolving intelligent life in a million years? As we don’t try to communicate with monkeys (rather, preserve their “self-determination” in preserves of which we stay out), is it any wonder that “gods” of other stars aren’t heard?

The ultimate problem in philosophy of language is there, Silent. Yet, our mathematics maps accurately to the entirety of the known universe (except at the “level” of quantum cosmology, which, some theoretical physicists speculate, may be too complex for our current intelligence). Thus, there ultimately is an available framework (call it the Newtonian-chemical level of mathematical realism—and define “universal realism” as clearly being at least that), thus a basis for creating a way to read the gods.

Anyway, there will always be questions of ultimacy, and that is why there will always be philosophy, distinguishable from all other discursive formations: Logic of humanity (under quantum constraints) in The Universe. Epistemology belonging to humanity. Moral psychology as phenomenon of intelligent life. Solar-systemic, “water-windowed” life on a right-sized planet among the stars, billions of them in our galaxy, among at least thousands of galaxies in the Local Region, among innumerable “strings” of Regions in the cosmic web of strings speeding apart from each other in a universe that is to fade out trillions of years hence.

Intelligent life is a blink in the christmas tree of cosmic time—a million years there, then gone—a million years here (long after there), then gone. And the tree grows, as the blinks take longer to reach another future, all to be ultimately Archive “to” darkness.

Such may be our destiny: to meet the Archive of long gone “neighbors” in our galaxy.

So, all we can do is love the life we are, for its own sake of what it may become for those who have our works, remembering us, reading us, living in light of what we built or channeled or sang.

So, what’s a history, what’s a life but a way for all there is so far.

It’s enough. There’s enough mystery to keep me in love with the living (which a god might say of us, too, and so stay away).

October 05, 2004

“Being” is really the evolving

Appropriations posting

The auspicious question of Being should be seen to have been transposed by “history” (epistemic advances of social evolution) into questions of “evolving”.

“Evolving,” in the ordinary sense, implies purpose. It isn’t a biologistic notion, yet it’s as biological as intelligence, which presumes intentionality, and natural selection does not.

Since purpose only pertains to intelligent life (life with intentionality), evolving primarily pertains (should be understood to pertain) to the human sense of the universe, rather than largely pertaining to natural selection (which is ecologically “intelligent,” but largely shows no intentionality in its functions, thus no purpose—“largely,” i.e., apart from a few genuses: the likes of crows, dolphins, and primates—and “many” other exceptions that prove the rule of intelligence's rarity among the millions of species). Attributing “evolution” to non-intentional life is always derivative of the purposive, progressive sense of durable change that ‘evolution’ has always had for us.

Intelligence, Purpose, Humanity, evolving—they all belong together.

Even “God”: the perfectionistic Face of evolving Humanity, concept of intuition that we’re evolving relative to the universe.

So, “evolving” provides an ordinary (lexical) sense, as well as any range of difficult senses that may altogether orient pathways of thinking about ultimacy relativized to our ordinary interest in finding developmental significance or progress in history. The lexical normativity of ‘evolution’ is metonymical of the social evolution that derived it. ‘Evolving’ is an excellent bridge concept between specifically humanistic views of progress and overtly philosophical ventures in postmetaphysicalist metabiology (e.g., interest in “anthropic” conceptions of the universe as our universe among innumerable ones) .

Conceptual evolution is polygamous.

October 03, 2004

Philosophical thinking is an endless Beginning

Appropriations posting

There is no perfect beginning—as if clear-sighted inauguration may echo originative telos. Yet, we may want a horizon of Origin-ality in finding a philosophical inauguration clear-sighted, as apparent relativism in ultimate concern portends insufferable anomie.

A small ascent

Any discourse is, at least, a very deliberate netweave. Yet, post-metaphysicalist cohering—which “the evolving project“ seeks to exemplify—belongs to the movement, the netweaving of the inquiry, rather than to a structure of presentation. Reconstructive thematization of that advances the inquiry more than determining a general constitutivity of its own advancing. Though the latter can be usefully investigated (even without suggesting metaphysicalism), the resultant discourse of reflective reconstruction doesn’t express the constitutivity of its own investigating. Capability for reflective reconstruction of general constitutivity (apparently immanent constituting), attending to a discursive venture of reflective reconstruction, thereby advances itself—the enactive capability—rather than capturing its own bootstrapping or reconstituting itself determinately relative to the general constitutivity of the discursive venture that may be clarified.

So, what’s clarified, if not the endeavor of clarification? A Concept of discursive learning or constitution that may have hermeneutical efficacy for evaluating particular inquiries into inquiry as such?

The evolutionary comprehension of such a Concept (embodied in its enactive self-understanding and validated in its interpretive/evaluative efficacy) may give such self-understanding non-relativistic (evolutionary) validity relative to other inquiries, even while its nature is indeterminate, as the question of this ultimately may facilitate the evolving evolutionarity of itself (i.e., evolving the inqiry as such beyond available paradigmicity), which of course proximally (here) invests the sense of ultimacy in the evolutionarity of evolving (and, as proximal introduction, probably seems like a Hegelian Darwinism, but it’s not—neither German-Idealist nor Darwinian, in the sense that contemporary evolutionary biology—so-called “evo-devo”—may be understood to be post-Darwinian).

relative descent

So, from overviewing (via circumspective early excursions upcoming), “the evolving project” proceeds to difficulties of conceivability—but aims to do so in analytically clear senses, with no reliance on hermetic, mystifying conceptions, though difficulty inevitably looks at first to be mystifying, as if by design, as if in need of obscurely eluding claims against its justifiability. But justification is really a matter of appropriatively working with the specificity of the claim against justifiability (i.e., the claim that basic conceptions are hermetic, etc.), rather than seeking to immunize oneself in advance against all possible objections (which was a key appeal of metaphysicalism).

further descent

All in all, let there proximally be thriving—like an ultimate Openness of purposeful well-being or flourishing.

Am I? Are you?

We parent thriving neonates, being artful gardeners of our own potential. By old age, its complex subtlety (for those who’ve been brightly active throughout life) may be beyond charactization (so, we just go on with what we do). There may thrive some cosmic Inner Child that never ceased wandering and wondering, some agéd waonderchild living where learning never ends, expressing the evolving humanity that launched us into its furthering that forever may launch more thriving into ever more furthering through more kinds of evolving kindness (belonging to kinds and, differently, to ways of caring—caring for kinds in kinds of caring?).

Philosophical thinking is an endless Beginning, at best a nesting for conceptual development (if not evolving) that may make its own originality along the way. Conceptuality develops, then may evolve. Originality emerges, flowers in the waymaking attuned to matters at hand, like the artist in the science emerging via the scientist in the art—as the fruitful intelligence that mere birth never determines may originate a new kind of fruitfulness. Fruitfulness as such may evolve. Horizons show autopoiesis. A tropology tropes topogeny.

So, in a sense that’s It: from thriving to evolutionarity—though not ultimately “It”. Yet, whatever we do implies, via its lifeworld backgrounding, a sense of ultimacy (be it usually nonconscious, if not unconscious) which gives us purposefulness which may be conceptualized, even complexly developed into large-scale programmatic engagements.

But usually not. Usually, we have a vague sense of being in the world, Of a world that makes life worthwhile. All we may know is our world.

At the other extreme are the philosophers who can’t forget the Questioning (of ultimacy—Of ultimacy itself?) and may make a career of figuring out where we are, in so many ways derivative of ultimate questioning.

Ultimately, you know, It is Mystery: the universe and all.

October 01, 2004

philosophical earthling

Appropriations posting

I’m drawn into time itself: ever deeper into our Time such that deep time—the intelligence of Earth, so to speak—may express itself in self identity (in the grounding of care), though merely saying that doesn’t make much sense, I realize.

Such a figure of speech—intelligence of Earth—is actually a realist claim about being human: Appreciating our nature is belonging to the intimacy of biology and brain, as if (!) some god saves itself via human mentality—we who can conceive the life of the cosmos evolving. “As if”!—because theistic thinking was just an era in our story.

So, to follow through on such figurative realism, I first think bioglyphically about life (i.e., I need to explicate this kind of thinking). From bioglyphics, I would clarify biotropism (or will do so)—which pertains to human prenatal neurontogeny as well. Then to biosphericality (both global and modular—all this needs explication, of course), through the autopoiesis of epigenesis (both biological and neurological), self-formativity of bioselection (ditto), hybridizing, and individualization (be it speciation or neonatal temperament), to the “reflection” of evolutionarity we are, which hominids released from basic natural selection eons ago. We are essentially cultural creatures, while that’s essentially a potential for individuation (and ‘essential’ is for me a postmetaphysicalist, ontogenic term).

So, we are the ones who inquire into our own mentability. Looking through the primacy of perception and its ontogenically cumulative intuition, we respond to the appeal of grand coherings—in “the search for Meaning,” typically—in humanity’s complex, evolving realities.

So, what’s the nature of creative intelligence?

What’s good—what goods deserve ultimacy, and what about "goodness" itself?

What’s truth, ultimately (beyond the ages of metaphysicalism)?

What’s human evolutionarity, relative to our 21st century hypernet polis?

What’s ultimacy itself?