Our investigation into the philosophical roots of social justice continues...
Daniel Bonevac is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He joins us today to discuss Jacques Derrida and how postmodernism manifests itself in some of the ugly developments in higher education. We also explore the potential dangers of hyper-skepticism, hence "the intellectual trump card."
Dr. Bonevac's research focuses on the intersection of metaphysics, philosophical logic, and ethics. His first book, Reduction in the Abstract Sciences, received the Johnsonian Prize from The Journal of Philosophy. He has written four other books-- Deduction, The Art and Science of Logic, Simple Logic, and Worldly Wisdom. His website is a great resource; check out all his articles, courses and books at philosophical.space
- Postmodernism didn't have to turn out this way
- Jean-François Lyotard: incredulity towards meta-narratives
- no overall view of the world is possible?
- Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction
- Kant's influence - 'the appearances'
- Hegel and "the myth of the given"
- The missing explanation argument
- Scientific Realism
- Ayn Rand vs. postmodernism
- how did postmodernism get such a hold on academia
- Freud and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion
- why is this suspicion and skepticism so appealing?
- hyper-skepticism is ultimately boring
- the postmodern path to Marxism?
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Anyone who’s read Derrida would not say he’s not well-read or illiterate on the subjects of history, language, philosophy, physics, biology … perhaps I will concede economics is his Achille’s heel. He is clearly the farthest to the Left of the postmodernists in the sense he prefers literature to accounting or mechanics, he displays empathy toward marginalized and colonized people, and is highly critical of imperialistic capitalism, but this is anyone with an expanded consciousness, more aware of political realities. I peg him as an anarchist in the best sense of the word. And while Ayn Rand may be a better source for the study of logic and objective Truth, from my reading, Derrida is not in total disagreement with Rand about the important, perhaps central, role that objective testing of subjective theories against reality plays in everyday encounters and daily life. Rather, Derrida is suggesting that and more.
Ego hic nunc – I here now – is the initial philosophy and language of every baby in the world. Universally, infants acquire present tense verbs before past or future tense verbs. The subject of their first sentences are always themselves. They view themselves as the center of the universe. This grammar is not taught to them in the schoolroom or by homeschooling parents. It’s inborn, innate, passed down by genetics, the 4-lettered alphabet of God. Perhaps the connection between language and thought is something worth studying.
From my vantage, Rand and the objectivists view philosophy through a narrow lens. They define reality in purely egoistic, ego hic nunc terms. Rand has little to say about aspects of humanity and life that most of us would consider just as real as the rocks in our backyard. For example, what does Objectivism have to say about unconscious dreams or how we spend 1/3 of our existence? And what about her views on art, literature, psychology, music, or the pleasure of life? Are they original and well-considered or dogmatic and regressive? Admittedly, Objectivists are strong on matters of logic and Newtonian physics, but are often antiquated or horrible on matters of love, human relations, sex, poetry, aesthetics, language, literature, quantum physics, discourse, and rhetoric. Rand defines only objective reality as reality, and that’s why she more of a cult figure than a novel philosopher. Her return to Aristotle is a warning sign to all those bleeding hearts and artists who would seek to overthrow rather than evolve Aristotle. And while I sometimes feel that the Objectivists are pointing at (indexical thinking) a postage stamp, and screaming, “Stop it! That alone is reality!” Meanwhile, the cosmos, the Great discourse, expands and evolves all around them.