Notes on Gadamer, 2

Chapter 2: The Ontology of the Work of Art

Play: the mode of the being of the work of art itself (106). (Note: When a continental philosopher uses the term “play” he doesn’t mean it in the sense of the South Park does in the Jeffersons)

  1. The work of art is not an object that stands over against a subject for itself; it has true being in the fact that it becomes an experience for the knowing subject.
    1. Play reaches presentation through the players
    2. The mode of being of play is mediation.
    3. The structure of play absorbs the player into itself (similar to the liturgy).
  2. Play takes place in the Heideggerian realm of the “in-between.”
  3. “Play” is consummated in the transformation into structure.
    1. This transformation produces what is otherwise hidden.
    2. Structure: the raising up of untransformed reality.
    3. Thesis:the being of art cannot be defined as an object of aesthetic consciousness…it is part of the event of being that occurs in presentation (120).
      1. Performance brings into existence.
      2. It acquires its proper being into being mediated.
      3. Total mediation means that the medium as such is superseded (aufhebt).
  4. Repetition does not mean a literal repeating.
    1. Festivals repeat, but the point is not another copy of an original.
    2. A festival exists only in being celebrated.
  5. Tragedy: the unity of a tragic course of events that is experienced as such.
    1. Commiseration and apprehension are modes of ek-stasis.
    2. This being overcome with involves a division of oneself.
    3. The final effect of tragedy is to dissolve this disjunction and to liberate the heart (132).
  6. The Ontology of Picture
    1. How is presentation (Darstellung) related to “picture?”
    2. By being presented, it experiences an increase in being.
    3. A picture is not a copy of a copied being, but is in ontological communion with what is copied (143).  It is coming-to-presentation.

Notes on Gadamer, 1

From Truth and Method.  Notes on Section 1.

Bildung:  the properly human way of developing one’s capacities; culture. reveals a new tacit dimension of man’s existence.

Erlebnis: an experience you have; connected with a subject’s knowing

Erfahrung: experience as an ongoing investigative project.

Vermittlung: total mediation.  In re-presenting the artwork performs a total mediation


One: Transcending the Aesthetic Dimension

  1. The Significance of the human tradition for the human sciences
    1. The Problem of Method:
    2. The Guiding concepts of Humanism
      1. Bildung (Culture)
        1. Herder: rising up to humanity through culture.
        2. Kant: cultivating a capacity of natural talent.
        3. Latin equivalent: formatio
      2. Hegel and Bildung: the condition of its existence; correlation between Geist and Bildung.
        1. Taking the universal in oneself; in acting out a skill, the man “finds himself.”
        2. Recognizes oneself in other being;
        3. To recognize one’s own in the alien.  This is why Hegel was fond of classical antiquity: it was sufficiently removed so that we can more easily see ourselves in the Other (Gadamer 13).
      3. Sensus Communis: not just Reid’s “common sense,” but the sense which founds community (19ff).
        1. A sense of right and good that is acquired from living in community (Vico).
        2. The sense of community mediates its own positive knowledge (21).
      4. Judgment

Post-Brexit 2.0

I initially looked at Brexit with glee.  Anything that makes leftists cry is always a good thing.  But this glee was always tempered with suspicion–so voting is now an honest thing and isn’t manipulated? So even though Brexit appeared to be legit, you can understand my skepticism.  A friend of mine pointed out John Milbank’s twitter account.  That surprised me since Milbank has historically been reticent about blogs and social media.

After reflecting on some of Milbank posts, other thoughts on Brexit solidified. So, here goes a list:

  1. No one is seriously saying the world should go back to post-Napoleonic nationalism and nation-states, so calm down.
  2. Even if we wanted to, it is simply not possible given global capital and technology.  Dugin has a point here (Eurasian Mission).
  3. Ironically, people fear Dugin but he has the most level-headed approach to globalism.
  4. Milbank is correct that both alternatives represent neo-liberal capitalism–and both are fraught with problems (problems, I think, cannot be fixed)
  5. Milbank (more on this below) thinks that the EU is a Christian institution interested in preserving the fragments of Christian civilization.  The romanticism in Milbank has always been very attractive, but could he be more mistaken?

Now for some of Milbank’s other comments:

Christians are duty bound for theological and historical reasons to support the ever closer union of Europe (which does not imply a superstate) and to deny the value of absolute sovereignty or the lone nation-state.

Sez who? Unless you are thinking of the Eastern Roman Emperor I am not sure what kind of argument you can make?

Towards a Better EU?

Maybe not in the future, since NATO is making sure that future can’t exist.  But I think a lot of the reasons behind Milbank’s reasons are quite sound and worth considering.  In the future, after modern Atlanticism is in dust and ashes, a real European Union is worth considering around Dugin’s lines.

  1. With the collapse of the USSR, the pole of Atlanticism shifted further to the West (America) leaving Britain adrift between the US and Europe.
  2. Disentangle Europe from NATO.  There is no reason the Balts must die for false promises.
  3. Go back to the distinction between a Common Market (good) and Single Market (bad).  This was a good idea based on the best of European subsidiarity.
  4. Rethink the open labor laws.  Flooding a market with cheap labor benefits CEOs, never the common man.
  5. Whenever the EU remained antagonistic to Atlanticism (like in the Iraqi war), it did well.
  6. Dugin’s final point is the heart of the matter:  the same globalist forces that created it are dissolving it.

So, if that’s true, there is little cause for Brexiteers to rejoice.  And Milbank is right on that point:  isolated nation-states cannot resist globalist economic networks.  Only superpowers united around polar zones can do so.

A tale of different fascisms

Real quick, what does fascism mean?  You are probably thinking it means anybody to the right of me that I don’t like.  While such a definition will get you tenure at the university, it isn’t quite accurate.

A better line of thought is to point to the overlap between national entities and economist interests.  This is better, but in today’s global society that means almost every country is fascist.  Further, a lot of so-called “fascist countries” thrived economically.

So that line of thought won’t do.  A better definition is one that defines identity around “race,” specifically within the contexts of the “Party.”  It’s not perfect but I think it has more explanatory power than the other definitions.  For our purposes today, I will call a group “fascist” that self-identifies as such.  So that people don’t start hyper-ventilating, I am going on record to say that I reject fascism, at least defined as reducing to the racial idea.  I don’t think that is what fascism means, but that is what most people think it means.

Enter Ukraine

So what are the connections with modern-day Ukraine and fascism?  It’s a lot more than simply saying that полк азов or правйй сектор is employed by the Rada.  That’s certainly a sufficient condition for fascism, but the analysis goes much deeper.  To be fair, in the ’40s a lot of Ukrainians rallied around the Nazis because they saw them as a counter to Stalin. I get that.  But those Ukrainians were also anti-Western liberalism.  Today’s “fascists” are financed by Western Liberals.

“But,” the objector exclaims, “fascists hate minorities and liberals love them, so they can’t be the same people.”  Well, Hitler employed a large number of ethnic groups in the Wehrmacht and white liberals are the most racist people on the planet.  But that’s not important.  It comes down to money and power.  Hitler’s goal was never to rid the world of the last Jew.  It’s control.  Lebensraum.  Among other things Hitler did was create a rival economic sphere that would negate the Anglo-American line.

Allowing that things have changed, we see something similar today.  The US/London nexus needs Ukraine.  It negates any natural border Russia has and is positioned as a launching point for any invasion.  This is why the rise of Novorossya terrified the Regime.  The Ukrainian army disintegrated in this war and the West failed to capture the resource-rich eastern part of the country.  Most importantly, it failed to establish Ukraine as an invasion port.  That’s why NATO has switched its attention to the Baltics.  Will you risk nuclear war simply that Latvia can have missile defense shields (which won’t work in an actual war.  Such shields are at least two generations outdated compared to Russian missiles).

“The Americans do not care about the Old World, – military expert Vladislav Shurygin said. – Even if Romania turns into scorched land, the Americans will only care less. The USA is too far, and there will be no explosions there. Deploying missile defense facilities in Europe, the United States is literally setting up its partners in Europe, making them take the blow that can only be struck in response to aggression, of course.”

The panic of the Baltic States, which tirelessly say that the Russians are about to attack them, is just a bluff, the purpose of which is to receive financial aid from Western countries. Russia is not going to seize Ukraine, even though the latter is already tired of digging trenches and building walls on the border. In 2008, during the operation to force Georgia to peace, Russian troops could easily enter Tbilisi, but did not do it and stopped on the borders of South Ossetia, which had fallen a victim of Georgia’s aggression.

But what does that have to do with fascism?  On one level, the US will use openly fascist groups in Ukraine to negate Russia.  On another level, who says that fascism died in the Western hemisphere?

The Lord and His Prayer (Wright)

This book *is* NT Wright in every sense of the word. And it also seems to be every NT Wright book. For Wright, the so-called Lord’s Prayer is not an updated spirituality to help you be more pious or something. It is Jesus. It is signing on to what Jesus is all about.

Wright gives a lucid summary of every clause in the prayer. In short, when we call God “Father” we are placing ourselves in Israel’s salvation-history (Ex. 4.22-23; 2 Sam. 7:14; Isaiah 55:3). It is saying “The Kingdom of God” (Wright 20).

When we ask for his kingdom to come, we are pointing to the New Exodus (Is. 52:7). Yahweh is returning to his people. His section on “thy will be done” has some great pointers on the physical aspect of prayer, as praying for our daily bread anchors the prayer in practical matters. Some advice:
(1) This clause helps us minimize stream-of-consciousness style praying
(2) We should pray for specific needs.
(3) Yet, we should also lift our eyes beyond our needs.
(4) All aspects of the Lord’s Prayer come together in the Eucharist.

In some ways his most important section is on forgiving tresspasses and debts. It’s not that our refusal to forgive places a metaphysical block in front of God, but rather we are removing ourselves from the Kingdom plan. In refusing to forgive we are saying the Kingdom really hasn’t come for us.

The section on debts shouldn’t be surprising: Jesus is the Jubilee (Luke 4). The World Bank is the negation of that.

While many of Wright’s smaller books aren’t as good as his other ones, this one is. He brings it home on every level.

Letters to Malcolm (Lewis)

Lewis, C. S. Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer.

This book serves several functions. In it Lewis goes a bit deeper in theology than what you find in Mere Christianity and he also touches on explosive issues in mid-century Anglican theology.

He covers basic issues as man-made prayers, bodily posture, distractions and the problem of having non-images in the head while praying. He notes the dangers and possible value in some of these.

Some of the real theological gems are at the end. Should we pray to God for the saints? Like a good Anglican, Lewis doesn’t tell you what you *should* do. But he has some interesting points: most of the people I love are already dead? Am I forbidden to mention them to God because they are dead? And while it is true that we can’t pray others into heaven from hell, because it is already fixed, Lewis points out that if we apply that same reason to prayer because of predestination, we are in the same bind. Why pray, since it is already fixed in eternity?

Lewis rejects the crude literal version of purgatory and where earlier Romish divines like More went astray. While I agree with Lewis that there are post-death moments which aren’t quite heaven or hell, I don’t think his reasons for Purgatory–however he defines it–are compelling.

He ends on an outstanding discussion of the Resurrection of the body and the nature of matter and sensory experience.