Sunday, February 28, 2010

some points of philosophical corroboration

Speaking of philosophical work, I’m really not quite so odd as I self-effacingly say. Joseph Margolis (a senior member of America’s philosophical community, author of 30 books, it’s said) has just published Pragmatism’s Advantage, evidently the culminating work of his life, which seeks no less than to prospect and recommend a sense of philosophy as such for the 21st century—and I’m beyond him!—though I’m the only one who knows that, and I lack his erudition (which will be useful for me to appropriate—with all due credit), which is not especially important, by his own argument, for scoping a sense of the future of philosophy, where we’re all girl/boy scouts.

Margolis says he wants to Darwinize Hegel and Hegelianize Darwin, put in terms beyond that of 20th century Analytical, Continental, and pragmatic philosophy. I’ve been explicit about wanting to avoid Hegelian dynamics (second part of that posting) in what I’m doing, because it’s obvious (to me) that I’m seeking a generative self-reflectivity (1/31 there, midway) in my sense of discursive inquiry (sec. 6). My obsession with evolving may even be tiresome at this point. So, I have no trouble seeing what Margolis is trying to do (having read his long “Preface,” where he’s explicit about the scale and character of what he’s doing). I’m thrilled, though, that he’s doing what he’s doing, as it’s very affirming of my own Project. His confessed audacity is credible by way of the esteem of his career; but it echoes mine, yet unearned. But I do easily see what he’s doing, and I have intuited, unwittingly along with him, the promise of philosophy as such for the early part of this century.

If only I had more free time to do the work. I thought I’d have the piece on individuation uploaded today, but I see that it’ll be next weekend before I’m ready. The whole “conceptuality…” project is supposed to be precursory, circumspective. That’s why I’m not working with readings of others, rather sketching—but carefully—a sense (albeit detailed) of living well which will serve ethical-theoretical work, but also literary-theoretical excursions I want to do, at least as amplifications of an ambitious sense of lifeworld, but also as a matter of finding artfulness to be a very good concept for thinking about ethics, mind, and cultural evolution.

What I’m doing has nothing do with religious thinking. But an anthropological sense of religious thought belongs to the far reaches of my Project. One would expect that our evolving humanity was actually doing something valid via the ultimately-invalid terms of religious thought. I see today—and it thrills me further—that Princeton philosopher Mark Johnston’s new book Surviving Death is conveying a sense of anthropological humanity in religious thought that accords with my own sense of high humanism and endeavor to base ethics in values of flourishing (apart from the Aristotelian tradition). Johnston proffers an overtly “protean” intuition of Self giving itself over, as “caretaker of humanity,” to the “onward rush of humankind” that is shared by all the great religions (he argues), a notion which is, I think, a spiritualist intuition of our evolving. There’s great value to me in finding a viable sense of our evolving intuited in the paradigms of religious thought (as complement, not as resource for what I’m doing, fundamentally without regard for religious conceptions). Johnston is on a campaign against supernaturalism, but employs the conceptual resources of Parfitian identity analysis to a range of religious narratives in order to find the naturalist potential in our cultural evolution. I will dwell with him later; but, for now, I’m enthused by the sense of shared Zeitgeist that these two new books give me. I am so on the right track in what I’m trying to do.