June 15, 2007

Ongelman ydin ennen ja jälkeen Richard Rortyn kuoleman

Tämä sitaatti on väliaikainen hälytys sen johdosta, että perusteellisen analyyttisen filosofian koulutuksen saanut, sittemmin mannermaista filosofiaa ajatteluunsa soveltanut - ja nihilismiin päätynyt - Richard Rorty on kuollut 8.6. 2007.(Täydennetty 17.6)

Coping With Nietzsche's Legacy - http://www.dadamo.com/rorty.htm

'I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous--a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.'
Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, "Why I Am a Destiny."


For us who today read Nietzsche after Heidegger, Nietzsche symbolizes the end of metaphysics (the death not only of "God" but also, as a necessary consequence, of the human "subject").
Whether or not Nietzsche actually succeeded in "overcoming metaphysics"--by means of his inventive myths, his "fictions," of the Will to Power, the Uebermensch, and the Eternal Return--or whether, as Heidegger would have had it, he was simply the "last of the metaphysicians," his own "last man" in effect, is a question still awaiting an answer.
What I wish to reflect on in this essay is the meaning of what has been and is going on in the wake of Nietzsche's genealogically deconstructive critique of the Tradition.
Where do we stand, where can we stand when the very concept of "ground," the metaphysical concept par excellence, has been swept away?

A quote from the literary critic Terry Eagleton might help to pinpoint the crucial cultural issue arising out of Nietzsche's all-out attack on the Tradition. Eagleton writes:

We are now in the process of wakening from the nightmare of modernity, with its manipulative reason and fetish of the totality, into the laid-back ["joyful," as Nietzsche would say] pluralism of the postmodern, that heterogeneous range of life-styles and language games which has renounced the nostalgic urge to totalize and legitimate itself....Science and philosophy must jettison their grandiose metaphysical claims and view themselves more modestly as just another set of narratives.

In other words, what as a result of Nietzsche's Fröliche Wissenschaft has been called into question in these postmodern times is that which has served always as the ultimate legitimation of the philosophical enterprise: the search for Truth, for Knowledge, for, that is to say, Science (Wissenschaft, episteme). i.e., the One (Universal), True Account of Things (Reality) (true heirs to Parmenides and Pythagoras, present-day physicists are currently expending a great deal of money and energy in search of what they call the Theory of Everything, "a single equation that describes the entire universe"). What under the inspiration of Nietzsche postmodernism has called into question is the foundational, cultural authority of Science.

The concept of Science is a Platonic invention, but it underwent a new twist at the beginning of modern times with the emergence of mathematical, experimental science of the Galilean sort.
Modern philosophy can be said to have begun when, bedazzled by this new development, philosophers took the new science as the supreme model of genuine, foundational knowledge.
They were, ever afterwards, to labor in the shadow cast by this great Idol. Even the "free thinking," godless philosophers of late modernity continued to pay a sort of religious hommage to it.

As Nietzsche remarked in the Genealogy of Morals, "They are far from being free spirits: for they still have faith in truth." And as he went on to say: "It is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science--and we men of knowledge of today, we godless men and anti-metaphysicians, we, too, still derive our flame from the fire ignited by a faith millennia old, the Christian faith, which was also Plato's, that God is truth, that truth is divine." When at long last Nietzsche took to doing philosophy with a hammer, it was precisely this Idol that he sought to demolish.

To get a sense of what happens when the Idol comes crashing down, listen for a moment to some of what Baudrillard has to say:

All of Western faith and good faith was engaged in this wager on representation [i.e., "science"]: that a sign could refer to the depth of meaning, that a sign could exchange for meaning and that something could guarantee this exchange--God, of course. But what if God himself can be simulated, that is to say, reduced to the signs which attest his existence [cf. Nietzsche's "death of God"]?
Then the whole system becomes weightless; it is no longer anything but a gigantic simulacrum: not unreal, but a simulacrum, never again exchanging for what is real, but exchanging in itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.

In other words, as Nietzsche would say, when the value of (representational) truth is called into question, everything becomes (mere) interpretation ("There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective 'knowing'"). The world itself becomes nothing more than a "sign-world," i.e., merely a semiological construct, a mere signifier signifying only itself.

In a way which reminds one of the section in the Twilight of the Idols entitled "How the "True World" Finally Became a Fable" Jean Baudrillard lists the following as "the successive phases of the image":
1 It is the reflection of a basic reality.

2 It masks and perverts a basic reality.

3 It masks the absence of a basic reality.

4 It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure
simulacrum (170).

When the "real world" at last becomes a myth, a simulacrum, we are witnessing the death not only of Truth and of Science, but also of Philosophy itself. At least Philosophy with a capital P, as Rorty would say.
What are we then left with?
Is there anything to be found in Nietzsche's legacy ("Let us abolish the real world") other than the most abyssmal of nihilisms? What are we to do when there is no more Truth and no more Reality--and no more Philosophy (Science) to tell us what Truth and Reality really and truly are?
How are we to cope with this situation which defines our postmodernity? Perhaps we could pick up some pointers by considering how three eminent thinkers of our times--Rorty, Derrida, Gadamer--have sought to cope with Nietzsche's legacy, each in his own quite distinctive way.

Timo Eskolalle: Jeesus on kuollut, kertomus jäi. Valitettavasti vain kertojatkin ovat kohta kuolleet...niin teistiset kuin ateistisetkin. Mutta Simulacrum 'elää' - kts. sitaatti: Jean Baudrillard.)

Richard Rorty (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols
Kulttuurinen sisällöntuotanto?


mattitaneli said...

Hei hyvÄ Rauno,

Mitä tämä viimeinen tarkoitti:
"Timo Eskola: Jeesus on kuollut".
Niin tietenkin mutta elää ja voi
hyvin myös Peräseinäjoella, jossa
olen ollut uskonnon ja psykologian
ja kuvaaamataidon ( nyk. kuvataiteen ) opettaja nuoruudessani.

Ystävällisesti Matti

Rauno Rasanen said...


Kts. lisäys.