Announcement of a three-volume book project

In the coming and following month I will present here on this blog some excerpts from my upcoming book.

The book will be published in German in April 2020 and is part of a three-part book pro­ject called „Versions of Thinking“. In this project I am talking about versions of thinking in the sense of different kinds of thinking and then in the sense of turns of (one’s own) thin­king. The first volume of the book project revolves around the topic of dis­ap­point­ment („Disappointing Thinking“), the two subsequent volumes will be devoted to the topics of resistance („Resistant Thinking“) and hope („Utopian Thinking“).

In the first volume, I will be presenting the dis­ap­point­ments of thinking in thinking itself, e.g. as dis­ap­point­ment that there is nothing given: lost friends, past times or missed op­por­tu­ni­ties; that there is no meaning in history, but that the end of history does not find an end either; that the last word in thinking has not the thinking itself, but the being, not the culture, but nature, not the duration, but the passing, not the living world, but the world of things, not life, but death.

In contrast to what is usual in academic philosophy, I am not interested in a meta-analysis of disappointing thinking, but in practical forms of such thinking itself, in different types of texts and styles of language, which often take sur­pri­sing turns. There are personal bio­gra­phi­cal sketches next to cultural-theoretical re­flec­ti­ons, the report of a journey next to existential-philosophical considerations, aphorisms next to essayistic attempts and literary drafts next to dialectical analyses.

So I link different levels of disappointment, such as the everyday psychological, the cog­ni­tive, the existential and the metaphysical, to form a network of references, the centre of which my fundamental thesis is: Philosophers who do not also speak of them­selves are not. The multilingualism of our dis­ap­point­ments reflects the multilingualism of our life.

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Transcendence. History. Humanity. Remarks on Detlef Günther’s artistic work (part 3)

Philosophical reflections

“Heaven is here / Beyond the idea / To be forever lost / Beside the true behest / Of Earth” (Roy Harper)

III.1. A halo looking for its saint

How free is man really? And how far-reaching, historically speaking, is the pathos with which the Renaissance philosopher Pico della Mirandola celebrates freedom in his (never held) Oratio de hominis dignitate from 1486? It seems that in his exhibition Human Image. Loving the Alien, Detlef Günther spans the arc from this oratorio to the highly topical trans-, meta- or posthumanist pamphlets of a Nick Bostrom or Stefan Lorenz Sorgner: excerpts from Renaissance paintings – sometimes with, sometimes without a halo – stand in this exhibition next to images of cybernetically, nano- or mor­pho­tech­ni­cally altered human bodies, limbs and heads.

In fact, theoreticians such as Bostrom or Sorgner like to cite freedom – which they pre­cau­tio­nari­ly classify as negative freedom – in their defense of the transhumanist, but D. G.’s collages seem more to place the question (What are the systematic connections here?), than trying to provide answers. For ironically, the representatives of transhumanism, who all see themselves as naturalists, refer exclusively to practices of physical: phar­ma­co­lo­gi­cal, morphological, genetic etc. enhancement, whereas the „perfection of man“, which Re­naissance philosophers such as Leonardo Bruni, Marsilio Ficino or Pico della Mirandola believed in, was more spiritual and ethical.

In any case, there can be no doubt about how the choice that God, according to Pico della Mirandola’s oration, presented to mankind (“You can degenerate down to the animal, or you can be reborn by your own will upwards into the divine”) would have been decided by the Renaissance philosophers. And another thing should not remain unmentioned here: The freedom of which Pico della Mirandola speaks in his text is a freedom given by God, i.e. it has not been won freely by man. Instead, it is a freedom whose foundation – here one could speak of an implement – is the lack of freedom: “We are,” says Pico, “born under the condition that we are to be what we want to be.”

So there is a kind of compulsion to freedom („man is“, as Sartre says, „condemned to be free“), a compulsion that the transhumanist can think but not deduce. For how could freedom be a freedom given by nature and explained by natural laws? From a scientific point of view, freedom would rather be a miracle, an illusion, it should not even exist, since it fundamentally contradicts the idea of a continuous determinacy of nature. The pathos of freedom, which occasionally arises in transhumanism, is therefore systematically rather questionable and historically unbelievable.

*

So is the idea of freedom necessarily bound to that of faith? And if so, how? In Detlef Günther’s works, which have been related to his Sen-Giotto project since 2007 – I will refer primarily to former exhibits (pic.7) – the problem is not solved. But in the sense of con­cep­tu­al art the fundamental questions are once again raised: From Giotto’s famous frescoes from the Capella Scrovegni in Padua, Italy, the artist eliminates all realistic pictorial ele­ments (persons, buildings, landscapes, even the sky is removed) and retains only the halos floating above the heads of the depicted persons, in their precise spatial configuration.

Picture 7: Saint Joachim’s Halos

So it seems that, in reversal of the usual historical perspective along the common thesis of secularization, the aureoles have lost their angels and saints, and even their human holders. The manifold references to angels and saints and saints and humans remain, whereby this is shown by the trick of retaining their spatial assignments. But there is nothing or no one left to take over or be exposed to these spatial assignments. The glow of the divine is misleading, precisely from the moment when the relationship between the sacred and the human is interrupted.

What remains is the idea of transcendence, an idea in which – in a world increasingly aban­do­ned by God – freedom and faith are linked. In the negative theology of Nicolaus Cusanus, which is so important for the beginnings of the Renaissance, this idea is ar­ti­cu­la­ted for the first time in its main features: If, because we cannot know anything positive about God, we also cannot know whether he exists or does not exist (the basic idea of the so called docta ignorantia), it is always a question of faith to assume that he exists or does not exist. In this way, even the atheist is still a believer, and therefore, whatever we may think about the “final things,” and perhaps even about penultimate things, we cannot not believe.

Nicolaus Cusanus

But then there still remains a possibility, a last possibility to make use of our freedom: by no longer having any opinion about the fi­nal and penultimate things, by abandoning the history in which such opinions were the focus of thousands of years of thought, i. e. by abandoning the history of mankind. In the post-, trans- or me­ta­hu­ma­nism of the present, this negative possibility has be­come a re­a­li­ty: If we cannot know something, then, it is assumed, we can only remain silent – our discourse is forever in the circle of im­ma­nen­ce. It is a closed, self-contained discourse, and that alone seems to be the solution … It is a discourse without trans­cen­dence that – pa­ra­do­xi­cally – affirms a certain physical self-transcendence of man.

III.2. The necessity of history. The indeterminacy of the human condition

But freedom and faith are not absolute; they are not realized in a vacuum, but always only in a historical context that is itself constituted by freedom and faith. Detlef Günther re­views this history in many of his exhibitions – this is the idea of his concept. Again and again he returns to the Renaissance, as in Dignity of Man (2006/2010), in Human Image (2017) or most recently in The Mirandola Series (2019; pic.8). It’s the model that serves for him as a point of departure, i.e. with which he relativizes his own artistic freedom. This freedom is not only negative freedom, not only that of an „anything goes“. It stands in the historical context of mediation. If it’s a wanted context, it’s positive freedom, if not, it’s negative freedom.

Picture 8: The Mirandola Series

 

Freedom and lack of freedom, faith and lack of belief, transcendence and immanence col­lide in this context. But this is precisely the initial historical experience of the Renaissance, which we can and indeed must call upon, since we share its historical a priori: By claiming to imitate the past („the ancients“, „antiquity“, „Rome“, etc.), Renaissance artists, ar­chi­tects, philosophers, and writers experienced the imponderables of imitation: „An in­ter­lo­cu­tor in Castiglione’s Hofmann explained: If we imitate the ancients, we are in fact already different from them, since the ancients imitated no one else.“ (Peter Burke)

The imitation of originals is therefore always original. But for this very reason it is also im­pos­si­ble. The Renaissance artists, architects, philosophers, and writers did not initially see the distance between past and present, which is completely natural for us today, as we are through and through historical subjects. Everywhere they saw, as Foucault has shown, si­mi­la­ri­ties across historical but also systematic distances. But when they were confronted with them – they went to Rome, practiced textual criticism – they realized that for a ple­tho­ra of forms there were no antique models at all, they saw the abyss that separated them from their models. The material they found, as it were, repelled their projections – back onto themselves.

Erich Fromm

Only this movement of projection and rejection – which is re­con­struc­ted and anticipated in the work of Detlef Günther by virtue of his engagement with the Renaissance – can thus be regarded as a model for the idea of a coming human being, a being that has its birth, its determination, already behind it, but its trans­cen­dence, its indeterminacy, still before it: Transnaissance – as a new form of the Renaissance in the sense of a renaissance of hu­ma­nism: „Without wanting to prophesy anything,“ wrote Erich Fromm in 1961, „I believe that to­day, for modern man and for man on this earth in general, there is essentially only the al­ter­na­tive between barbarism and a new renaissance of humanism.“

*

Is it possible to paint a portrait of man? Not a portrait of just a human being, but of the human being itself? It seems that in his series of works Grund. Transnaissance no. 2 (2016), Detlef Günther in fact made a daring attempt to do so. In Dignity of Man (2006 /2010), with explicit reference to Pico della Mirandola’s speech on the dignity of man, he had only formulated the program for such an attempt, a program that he was to take up again ten years later with Transnaissance no.1 (2015): If an image of man is supposed to be possible – and for an artist this must literally be an image of the human being itself – then it can only be an indeterminate image.

In his work of the same title, Indeterminate Image (pic.9), this assertion was first il­lus­tra­ted with reference to the dynamic understanding of man in the Renaissance. The work depicts an image of this indeterminate image: Above an excerpt from Mirandola’s speech, enlarged to form a poster almost four meters wide and one meter high, are photographic images of two heads of mannequins whose faces are obscured by black bars – comparable to a digital or genetic identity code. To the right of these images, in an intense blue, is the inscription ‚Indeterminate Image‘, with the word ‚Indeterminate‘ highlighted by the shard of a broken mirror as if by an exclamation mark.

Picture 9: Indeterminate Image

In the works of the series Grund. Transnaissance no. 2, the indeterminacy of man himself, and not only that of his image, becomes the image – it is depicted in the image as in­de­ter­mi­na­cy, as a black background. It’s as if the black of the digital, genetic identity code has become universalized. But appearances can be deceiving, as they are here: The ten pictures seem monochrome black at first glance, but they are not. That’s because each of them has a different structure that makes them unique. Through a gestural application in several, sometimes clearly visible layers, as well as through blurring, the black can appear lighter or darker depending on the incidence of light and the perspective of the viewer: the color shimmers back and forth between black and blue-green (pic.10).

Picture 10: Grund. Transnaissance No.9

This not only shows a progress in the history of Detlef Günther’s work: The blue lettering – the philosophical slogan – dissolves in the picture, is shifted into the invisible, and pre­ci­se­ly through this process is made “visible”. The series of works also represents an ad­vance­ment in the conceptualization of indeterminacy. This is not pure indeterminacy: that of an arbitrary, negative freedom without transcendence and history. It is instead an in­de­ter­mi­na­cy – and thus unimaginability – that cannot be anticipated or relativized by any ge­ne­ra­li­ty, neither by society nor community. It comes into play in the transition from the general to the singular, from the common to the individual, from language to speech, from po­ten­ti­a­li­ty to actuality: that of the human individual, the last instance of humanity.

Links:

Infos from the artist himself: https://www.detlefguenther.de/

Infos from Wikipedia: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detlef_Günther_(Künstler)

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Transcendence. History. Humanity. Remarks on Detlef Günther’s artistic work (part 2)

Digression

“And if everyone opened their heart they‘d see / That every human is holy to someone.” (G. Nash & J. Pevar)

II. Human Image. Loving the Alien

On March 25, 2017, I attended the vernissage of Detlef Günther’s exhibition Hu­man Image. Loving the Alien in the gallery ‚Andreas Reinsch Project‘ at Oranien­platz in Berlin-Kreuzberg (pic.6). This exhibition was, as the title indicated and the pic­tures represented it, something like a preliminary conclusion. All the motifs that cha­racterize Günther’s con­cep­tual approach were gathered here on large-format silk­screen prints (often 100 cm x 70 cm, occasionally also 220 cm x 180 cm): of the human face and body, their technological measurement and im­provement, their embedding in a secular but also sacred context, and their histo­rical dimension with a view to both the ideal of humanity of the Renaissance and to transhumanism.

Picture 6: Exhibition: Human Image

Surrounded by people standing beneath pic­tures of people who here, without thinking about it, gave themselves a a certain image of the human being, I asked myself what type of human image showed up in this “doubling” – what type of phenomenon was emerging here? Per­haps that people look at hu­man images and thereby start talking, without a doubt about themselves, about people. And with this reflexive, distance-producing question, I felt like an alien myself for a few hours, for it made me a marginal third person: the observer of viewers of images of people.

What I saw were, indeed, images of human beings: two-sided, strangely antiqua­ted, and pe­culiarly distorted images coming from a distant past – the Renais­sance – and shifted into a near future of the transhuman, of a history that is the history of our freedom. “Nei­ther as a celestial nor an earthly being have I created you,” says God to his creation in Pi­co‘s De hominis dignitate of 1486. “And neither mortal nor immortal have I made you, so that you, like a shaper and sculptor of your own, can form yourself at your own will and out of your own power into the form you prefer.” (Giovanni Pico della Mirandola)

Pico della Mirandola

In this reading, which D.G. has expressly offered to the recipients of his art since his extensive works overview Heaven Opens (Tübingen 2009), and which he also reaffirmed in a short address this evening, the aureole, which occupies a central place in many of his works and which also here literally makes its mark on each of the silkscreens exhibited, is the emblem of a question: the question of freedom and the liveliness of the individual that goes with it. The work of man, which has been on its way since the Renaissance, is a work of individual and social live­li­ness. And as this is man’s own work of art, he is the shaper and sculptor of himself at his own will and by his own power.

*

At the opening of his exhibition, Detlef Günther also made explicit reference to the cha­me­le­on metaphor which Pico della Mirandola used to support his claim in his oration that man was a fundamentally free creature. At the same time, however, the artist also referred – even through the subtitle of his exhibition: Loving the Alien – to the entertainer, pop and rock singer David Bowie, who was given the nickname „Chameleon of Pop“ by the music press due to his great versatility. This coincidence in the use of a not particularly unusual metaphor seems to be no coincidence. For it is associated with an ambivalence that is quite familiar to the collective unconscious:

On the one hand, the chameleon‘s ability to adapt its colour to its respective natural en­vi­ron­ment testifies to a high degree of flexibility and changeability. In this respect, one can assume that an artist such as David Bowie, unlike the literal chameleon, always initiated his own processes of change deliberately. But on the other hand, such transformations are always also reactions to previous changes in the contextual conditions of a subject. In other words, these processes of change are largely forced by these contextual conditions. For if they were not, the metaphor would be useless.

David Bowie (Cover-Art of „Tonight“)

What at first sight seems to be of little importance here: the ambivalence or even, as one might assume, the mistake in the use of the chameleon metaphor, actually illustrates the central problem in modern era’s understanding of freedom: While this understanding was still permeated and supported by the con­sci­ous­ness of man’s resemblance with God in Pico’s time, today we must reintegrate what we mean by freedom into the context of nature. And so the question arises – difficult to answer under post-, trans- and metahumanistic conditions –, whether freedom in this re-integration must not be relativized.

In this respect, complete freedom will be defined differently today than it was during the Re­nais­sance or at the beginning of the modern era. It can no longer be absolute, un­con­di­tio­nal, but only relative, conditional freedom, that is, freedom that respects the limits of humanity: that of its own finiteness and that of natural resources. In other words, to be „absolutely“, „unconditionally“ free would mean, apparently paradoxically, to refrain from actions that are possible, to counter the positivist ability with a negativist will: „to leave possibilities unused out of freedom, instead of rushing towards foreign stars under insane compulsion“ (Th. W. Adrono, Minima Moralia).

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Transcendence. History. Humanity. Remarks on Detlef Günther’s artistic work (part 1)

Conceptual Art

“Wandering and wandering / What place to rest the search? / The mighty arms of Atlas / Hold the heavens from the earth.” (J. P. Page & R. A. Plant)

I.1. Multilingualism and its development

Detlef Günther is an artist who makes use of a multitude of media codes and is able to express himself in them: in paintings and drawings, collages, objects and installations, photographs, video works and multimedia environments. If one wanted to summarize this multilingualism of his work, this heteroglossie (to put it in terms of a con­cept coined by Bachtin) in one term or under one title, one would have to call it conceptual.

Conceptual not primarily in the sense of conceptual art that first designs the concept in the form of a plan, which can then be produced by other people in a so-called post-studio pro­duction (Günther‘s approach to an installation entitled Sen Giotto ­ The Manifestation of Volumes might possibly be understood in this way; pic.1), but rather in the sense of a con­ceptual under­standing of his own art activities and art works.

Picture 1: Sen Giotto – The Manifestation of Volumes

On the one hand, everything revolves around the concept of humanity and the (implicit) question as to whether it is possible to portray the human being itself, rather than just individual people. Günther pursues this question by dedicating himself to the historical reappropriation of certain pictorial elements and themes of the Renaissance, e. g. the hu­man face in the “Faces of the Renaissance”, or the halos resp. aureoles in Giotto’s frescoes in the Arena Chapel of Padua (pic.2) According to the artist, the aureole is “a trembling of what has come to its com­pletion“, as a “supplement that adds to perfection.” (Giorgio Agamben)

Picture 2: Arena Chapel of Padus

To whose perfection? To that of man, or more pre­cisely: to his absolute, unlimited freedom, as the Re­naissance philosopher Pico della Mirandola im­pres­sive­ly conjured up in his speech De Hominis Dig­ni­ta­te / On the Dignity of Man. And that is why the artist’s work is always concerned with the con­cept of freedom, and here with the question of how far this freedom extends at all, how perfect, how absolute it is: whether it extends beyond the con­cept of hu­ma­ni­ty, as it is the case with the current phenomena of so-called „trans-, meta- or post­hu­ma­nism“, or whe­ther it suspends this concept, makes it cease to exist, because it is always bound to certain notions or ima­ges of humanity.

*

The development of the conceptual heteroglossie in Detlef Günther’s work over the years can be briefy characterized as follows: Initially, at the end of the 1980s, the artist devoted himself to the unstable relationship between human figure and space. Then, in the early 1990s – for example in the project Gelb 92 – he dealt with the manifold patterns of seeing. Here, the openly visible, the obvious in its combination of form and color, was at the fore­front of his artistic interest: how is one and the same form or figure, one and the same co­lor perceived in different spatial, temporal, material, and situational contexts?

At the end of the 1990s, in the Twosuns project, Günther developed new forms of in­ter­ac­tion, especially with digital media. In the course of an accelerating electronic development there was an increased confrontation with the innovative modes of production offered as a result as well as their effects on perception. With his last works since 2006 (Dignity of Man and Sen Giotto, but also in his purely painterly works Trans­naissance no. 1 and Grund ­ Transnaissance no. 2), the artist finally faced the question of – or the challenge of – the invisible in art, once again with reference to classical production methods.

Ideally speaking, this development was and is about balancing two different boundaries: the boundary between the analog and the digital on the one hand, and between the visible and the invisible on the other. Both boundaries are es­sentially the same in essence – less in terms of art theory than in art practice: While the invisible – thought, vision, or in­tu­i­tion – can be understood as the pro­duction principle of the visible (it is the invisible that is made visible), the digital code can be understood as an invisible production principle of the analog (it is the digital code that gives the analog its analogicity).

The formula that can be easily found for this double context of refe­rences is the phe­no­me­no­lo­gi­cal formula of the (invisible) reason and the (visible) figure – which in turn vaguely reminds us of the Platonic idea of the difference between idea and appearance: reason and figure are separated from each other and at the same time connected with each other, but in a way that occasionally makes the reason appear as an abyss and the figure appear as so deprived that there can no longer be any talk of an appearance itself of the idea or an ap­pear­ance of the idea itself (think of Gün­ther‘s oil paintings from the Twosuns cycle, but also the mysteriousness of the aureoles that have been robbed of their holy figures in his Sen Giotto project).

I.2. Space of the image and time of the concept

For clarification, we would first like to draw attention to the artist’s pain­terly works, in par­ti­cu­lar to the series Grund. Transnaissance No. 2 (pic.3). The pic­tures in this series are monochrome, but not monoform black. In this respect, they belong together, they are one, but each of them is one, an individual figure – in­dividual and figurative by virtue of a blue that communicates with the black of their background in different ways, literally sharing it with the black. In this respect, the pictures have a correspondent relationship with one an­other; they are variants of each other. However, with one exception: that of the last picture (pic.4), which has a special status because it is the only image that is not monochrome throughout, and it also has its own title.

Picture 3: Grund. Transnaissance No.2

This title is The Power to Believe and it is reminiscent of a CD or song title by King Crim­son which says: “She carries me through days of apathy / She washes over me / She saved my life in a manner of speaking / When she gave me back the power to believe”. One gets the impression of a certain ambivalence here: On the one hand, the text association ap­pears to be coherent, for it is not a question of just some type of power but instead of the human power of faith, that which distinguishes man as a human being. But on the other hand, the association is also incorrect or incoherent because the song title appears only as a possible and by no means necessary exemplification of what is depicted in the picture.

Picture 4: The Power to Believe

What does the picture depict? Instead of being monochrome black throughout, the pic­ture, unlike all other pictures in the series, has a small rectangular colour field at its center. Its blue, which is sometimes more intense, sometimes less intense depending on the in­ci­dence of light and the viewer’s perspective, blurs with the surrounding black ground and seems to have difficulty standing out from it. It’s as if the blue tones of the other pictures had been concentrated in the last picture, or as if the dark blue of the last picture had merged with the black of the other pictures.

A closer look reveals that the painting has a peculiar facture: The artist has painted several layers of paint on top of each another; it has a haptic that rejects any illusionism. These layers mark, almost invisibly, two window-like frames, so that the blue in the center of the picture exerts a specific effect on the viewer. It is as if it were attracting the viewer or, con­versely, coming towards him; as if it were alive inside, were an autonomous power – pre­cisely the power to believe described in the title: perhaps an idea, or an ideal awaiting its own creation.

*

In Detlef Günther‘s painterly works, as demonstrated by the series of works just discussed, less and less or nothing is depicted. The visible appears out of the invisible as a blue fi­gu­ra­tive from a black abyss, from which it flashes up but is nevertheless not really able to detach itself. It is not possible to tell a story or explain some type of phenomenon here. These pictures have deta­ched themselves from the supremacy of the world of things, li­be­ra­ted themsel­ves from themselves. They have become meta-pictures in that they spe­ci­fi­cally address the history of the possibility of the appearance of the idea – of man, his faith, and his freedom.

Space and time, image and concept, the visible and the invisible come together here – in space, in the image, in the visible. It’s as if the artist wanted to draw attention to a move­ment, but at the same time undo it – a movement he once described in a conversation as follows: “There is something that can be referred to as a cult of inwardness, which I think is something different from the narcissism that everyone likes to talk about today: The in­terior, in the compulsion to achieve self-realization, in the dictatorship of the ex­ter­na­li­za­tion of individuality as singularity, is transferred into the exterior; time plunges into space.”

Time plunges into space. This means that we don’t just go out through the door – we do this every day: We are constantly expressing ourselves and so coming outside of ourselves. Rather, the issue here is that it seems as if this were the only way to get inside, the only way we to get to the interior of our­selves – in through the out door. The reappropriation of history, our history, in­dividual history, but also universal history, seems to be interrupted, because history – that is the truth of post-history – is made again and again, without any pause for breath. Man always encounters his own effects; wherever he goes, he is already there. There is nothing else anymore.

Or is there? It is as if the halo or, as Giorgio Agamben might put it, the aureole in Detlef Günther‘s work once again raises this question again, the question regarding “ the other.” Because it has lost the holy figure who had worn it, the aureole seems to have lost its place among men, withdrawn itself into a distance from which it can no longer be retrieved, can no longer appear, or appear only in such a way that it acquires a completely new function in the visible – as a pure con­stellation in space (pic.5), as a pure context of reference that refers to nothing more than (in the metapicture): transcendence.

Picture 5: Sen Giotto (Halo without Man)

 

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………….

In the coming month I will be placing a text on this blog in an extra slot – outside the series, so to speak – that will deal with the works of the exceptional artist Detlef Günther. For me, these works set a truth, an exceptional truth in motion, which, if I were to center it in a single sentence, I would characterize as follows:

All art is human. And that is exactly what it is about.

One can doubt that and say that art points beyond the human, at least beyond the purely human. But then you only claim a triviality. Because to be human is to be beyond yourself. Also in Land Art, in Arte Povera, in Process Art, etc. The whole staleness of post-, meta- or transhumanism becomes clear in the face of such a triviality, such a „poor“ truth.

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…………

I was wondering if I might delete my last blog post. It doesn’t seem to be tenable to me. What I write in it: about science, which does not exist in its generality, totum pro parte, is for the most part – I apologize for it – nonsense, pure blabla.

So I should delete the post. Or maybe not? Maybe it makes more sense – quite apart from the fact that it’s more honest – to leave it there. Because one’s own mistakes are often the ones that – à propos philosophy – allow one to look deepest and through which one learns the most.

I have written about disappointments / disillusions and what they mean. And I said: we are all too fond of deceiving ourselves; we rarely want to face the truth. So we’re dis­ap­poin­ted when we’re surprised by the truth, and then we cheat ourselves.

Just as it happened to me the other day, when I wanted to write about it: Instead of the truth I wrote nonsense, blabla – which doesn’t mean to have written the untruth, but some­thing that comes close to the truth, to another truth, but, of course, in a weird way.

So do I really have to reckon with the possibility of writing nonsense or even blabla in my own thinking? And to reckon with letting it stand for fear of disappointment / dis­illu­sion­­ment, for fear of having nothing to say?

Yes, I must reckon with that. Even if nonsense or blabla are certainly not the fine words that meanwhile belong to the canon of bourgeois education.

But fine words are not meant to be. For I am not knitting here elaborately turned treatises, but philosophical notes that are intended to clarify a process of thinking that does not stop at disappointments / disillusions.

In other words, I am not concerned here with a loving contact with myself or my own thin­king. Such an approach would be embarrassing for me. It would only lead to a false con­si­de­ra­tion, to a weak thinking, which actually does not look the truth in the face.

Finally – I would like to stress this once again (cf. my blog post of 28.7.13) – nobody simply has any duty against himself; he imposes it on himself or not.

But every human being has a fundamental duty – and from it duties – against others: to re­spect their freedom. This is the asymmetry in the relationship between me and others that no theory of so-called intersubjectivity can ever eliminate, precisely for the sake of in­ter­sub­jec­ti­vi­ty.

By the way: It is always a certain nonsense from which one works oneself out, it is always a certain nonsense that one recognizes and negates as such, and it is always a certain blabla that one opposes with a less naive speaking and writing. Ultimately, thinking is always what it has become what it is. It is the trace of itself.

Self-disappointment? Yes. For even in disappointment deception is still possible, one’s own narcissism gives one a leg. Precisely for this reason, caution against deception and all the nonsense it entails cannot be great enough, especially in relation to oneself. At least I hope so, for my readers.

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………..

Why „disappointment / disillusionment“? What does „disappointment / disillusionment“ mean?

I say: we are all too fond of deceiving ourselves; we rarely want to look the truth in the face. Especially if it is a negativistic truth: that we do not really know what is true and real (in itself), but also not what is good and meaningful (for us).

Precisely because we do not know (or only think we know) whether philosophy is a sci­ence. But we like to be mistaken about that and are disappointed when it is not true that we know it: when our knowledge does not prove itself, when it does not pass the test of time.

But why not? Why do we not know what is true and real, what is good and meaningful?

First, we do not know it because we are finite and thus historical beings, i.e. the truth itself is always a finite and a historical one.

So we would have to be able to stop the process of the continuous on-one-end approach, of this series of events, which is history, in order to be able to say once – not even once and for all – what is true and real, good and meaningful.

Secondly, we don’t know it because we are individual and thus intersubjective beings, i.e. the truth is always also an individual and intersubjective one.

This means that the process of the continuous on-one-end approach is a multiple, plural process: everything and everyone is approaching its end here, the individual in his com­mu­ni­ty / his society, the society / the community with its individuals.

There is no stopping, but always something new, no pausing, but always new challenges, against which the old truths, what used to be meaningful and good, fade.

But, one might ask, isn’t science, precisely then, the only and only reasonable answer?

Far from it. For as it turns out, in the end every science disintegrates into a multitude of sciences, which all produce their own truths, which at a certain point – a point of no return – no longer communicate with each other, are no longer compatible with each other.

It begins with the soft sciences: with pedagogy and political sciences, social and cultural sciences, history, ethnology, etc., which disintegrate into schools and doctrines and are at best still held together by fashions and mainstreams, so-called turns: the linguistic turn, the cultural turn, the iconic turn, the body turn, the communicative turn, etc. (see here for an unironic description of a scientific description of such turns).

Then, at some point, the hard sciences will also be seized. Just think of the inextricable con­tra­dic­ti­ons in physics about space and time, matter and energy, or of the so-called neu­ro­sci­en­ces, which can no longer get a foot on the earth at all and which we, the phi­lo­so­phers, have in our ears with „insights“ – they are only speculations – which have to be re­vised every two / three years.

Meanwhile I am almost ashamed to have taken part in such debates myself (fortunately only with inferior contributions; see my bibliography No. 30 and No. 46).

Everybody goes there, keeps his own little machine running and hopes to become part of a scientific community, pressure group or lobby to be able to help shape a small one.

What about what? Nobody knows that. Millions and millions of dollars and euros have been and are burned in this way – because it goes on and on – , dollars and euros, which could have been used much more sensibly in many places.

In other words, science has become our favourite activity for not changing anything and for not being responsible for anything, really for nothing at all.

Because: The sciences can only describe what there is. They cannot – and do not want to – change anything about being, or if they wanted to change something – but they do not want to – they would no longer be sciences. That’s it.

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