On Philosophizing

What meaningful role is left for philosophy if not to concern itself first and foremost with existences? An elaborate inquiry into the conditions of existence seems to be the only meaningful engagement left open for genuine thinking. Yet, even this humblest of endeavors is tainted with a bleak awareness of its own inevitable uselessness. For where is the audience for whom the inquiry will have any meaning? If philosophical inquiring is an attempt at understanding, at seeing, and hearing, then it must also take on the task of communicating by way of “pointing out.”

But meaningfulness is always in relation to the individual; and the individual always already occupies some particular standpoint. The relative receptivity of any given individual will in turn depend on his or her related standpoint as regards this or that particular assertion.  Meaning itself is meaningless, and knowledge of the problem offers little comfort given the gravity of our impotence to do anything about it. We are stuck; fallen by default and far too consumed by existential atrophy to even imagine a way out.

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Authentic philosophy is never detached, nor is it, strictly speaking, a scientific endeavor (insofar as “scientific” refers wholly to the naturalistic view by which all phenomena is reduced to present-at-hand objects). Rather, authentic philosophy takes recognizes, first and foremost, that philosophizing is an event or experience – and thus aims to describe and recount the experience as a telling of personal experience. In this sense, authentic philosophizing is constituted in both a “seeing” and a “listening.”  It draws out that which the philosopher, as living, existing discloser sees through experiencing the phenomena. Such seeing is only possible if taken from the perspective of an engaged and involved self in the world. At the same time, authentic philosophy must retain an essential openness — an openness that allows philosophy “to be,” approaching its essence and allowing it to openly speak.

Philosophy, thusly understood, is never confined to the mere learning of past systems and doctrines. On the contrary – when philosophy is reduced to a mere academic affair, genuine philosophy is impossible, and the so-called “philosopher” is seduced into inauthenticity,  Inauthentic philosophy is incapable of speaking, and deprives philosophy of what is most essential to it,  and thus de-valuing itself into intellectual Idle talk.

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If authentic philosophy is allowed to speak, then how does it speak to us? To speak genuinely, that is, to escape the confines of the average everyday intelligibility of “public” language – with its tendency to flatten and level – authentic philosophy must allow the phenomena to speak for itself as itself.  Where philosophy transcends the boundaries of average intelligibility, it encounters the lyrical. The lyrical expression of philosophy allows philosophy to speak with integrity. It neither reduces philosophy to a mere body of syllogisms, nor attempts to explain.

Lyrical philosophy finds its most natural expression in the aphorism. Above all, the aphoristic method of speaking philosophically entails dissolution of all pretenses to form, and thus allowing the lyrical to permeate through the clutter of public language and be heard to those attuned to its truths. Aphoristic writing also reflects the inner lyricism of the thinker himself – allowing personal subjective thought to emanate as such, without imposing the excessive formalism so evident in other styles of philosophizing (particularly the rigor mortis found in contemporary academic philosophizing).

Above all, the aphorism allows philosophy to speak authentically by its characteristic disdain for all system-building and totalizing worldviews; by allowing philosophy to get back to its originary rootedness in the asking of the question – a return to the “wonderment” where, according to Heidegger, philosophy encounters its first beginning. What renders the aphorism so particularly hostile to all grand and systematic constructions of thought is its uniquely destructive power ; that is, a power possessing the possibility for the deconstructive-leveling of both inauthentic philosophy as well as average everyday intelligibility, and thus paving the way for genuine thinking.  In other words, the aphorism embodies that Nietzschean will towards creative-destruction. Such a will-towards destruction is the very heart and soul of indirect aphoristic communication.

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Authentic lyrical philosophy takes as its audience the existing individual; for whom he is an audience unto himself, and for whom truth exists for him.  Thus, the aphorism’s “truths,” like those of poetry, are thus never “objective” in the way that term is commonly understood; for such “objective” truth is incomprehensible if one assumes that such “truth” presumes a correspondence between the phenomena and the perceiver whom exists outside the individual’s being-in-the-world. In other words, aphoristic truth is subjective; yet, by this term we do not mean to imply a notion of egoistic-subjectivism or relativism. The truths of the aphorism are communicable beyond the given individual, and thus perceptible and coherent to a plurality of individual selves. Rather, the “truth” by which the aphorism speaks is inter-subjective – calling forth “truth” from concealment in accordance with that which it already is for the given individual as being-in-the-world.

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One comment

  1. Moe

    Passing aphorism: For it is out of the thoughts of others we make rhetoric, and out of own that we make philosophy.

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