Misconceptions on philosophy II

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In my previous post, I tried to clarify some of the misconceptions on philosophy in general by defining philosophy, concept (as the philosophical tool) and the difference between philosophy and psychology. To me, definitions are fundamental to understand and elaborate.

You can check my post here Misconceptions on philosophy I

Moving to more fun parts of the misconceptions, a distinction must be made with politics. The latter is responsible for creating some damages in the name of philosophy by imposing ideologies.

Ideology:

Ideology is a body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.  Ideology is always to be linked with politics in both large and strict sense, to religion and to society. It shapes up citizens political behaviour and way of thinking, alongside an economic plan to back it up.

An ideology is not solely the specialty of totalitarian States. Globalization for example is an ideology without being a totalitarian regime, although it has some facets of it as in forming the way of being and thinking.

The tricky part is that some ideologies, in there headlines and big titles, were in a way inspired by philosophy but with major twists. Here is the typical example of the perversion made to philosophy by politics.

Marxism, communism and Leninism:

Karl Marx had earned a bad reputation mainly because of Lenin. Let’s start by saying that Marx’ ultimate goal is the disappearance of the State, replaced by the communist society based on equality among people. He wanted this because he pointed out the exploitation of workers by the state through capitalism. So he aimed for a more liberal form of capitalism.

Lenin, who read Marx very well, did all the opposite. He implemented a gigantic State, the USSR, with a guided economy. Apart from the apparatchik or the members of the Soviet State apparatus, the rest of the people lived equally on less than average compared to the West.

Forever the name of Marx will be linked to the poorly applied communism which was spread on half of the planet. It must be noted that Marxism as in Marx’ works was never applied. The Marxist world is a utopia.

This is one example among many others were ideology and philosophy get confused. Same goes for Nazism and Nietzsche, Consumerism and the concept of freedom, the Cartesian definition of a man and nature’s exploitation and the list goes on.

Misconceptions on philosophy I

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This post is inspired by many questions I am asked daily on philosophy in general and on philosophers in particular. As a philosophy teacher, it is my duty to address misconceptions about this field and to untangle philosophy from other disciplines that falsely want to use it for higher purposes.

What are the main encountered confusions?

Let’s start with definitions since philosophy is the science of definitions and it always starts with defining and describing the object of study.

Philosophy:

You might hear people say: “My philosophy of a workout/life/career/love etc. is this and this”. The right word to be used in this is “perspective” which is an interpretation based upon one’s experience. While philosophy will create representations and perspectives, it is not per se a perspective. Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline. In other words, philosophy creates concepts. After figuring out what is the fundamental nature of all the aforementioned, then we can have a perspective on life, on fitness, on love, on career etc.

Concept:

Design, architecture, advertising etc. use the word concept as an idea about their product. This is misuse of the word concept. A concept is not a simple theoretical idea to be concretely realized in a tangible product. For Deleuze, concepts are not identity conditions or propositions, but metaphysical constructions that define a range of thinking, such as Plato’s ideas, Descartes’s cogito, or Kant’s doctrine of the faculties. A philosophical concept “posits itself and its object at the same time as it is created.” So there is a concept of an idea, as the basis and the structure of the idea, the ontology of it. To go back to the confusion mentioned before, there is a concept of the idea which will be realized in a product. A concept is a meta-idea.

Philosophy vs. psychology:

While philosophy was the first to study consciousness and human’s mind, and was and still a type of therapy as I explained it shortly on this post: Therapy through philosophy. a short explanation. However, philosophy and psychology can’t be swapped. Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior, according to the American Psychological Association. It is the study of the mind, how it works, and how it affects behavior. Psychologists and psychiatrists work together to help people with mental health conditions, but they are not quite the same. Psychology and philosophy in its practical branch are both therapies focusing on a patient; philosophy in its broader branches doesn’t deal with individuals but with concepts.

I hope I cleared out some confusions around philosophy as an academic discipline. More posts will be written about this subject, because misconceptions like these drive me nuts!

Random crucial truths vs. the tragic of life

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Pablo Picasso : The Tragedy

2020 is definitely a weird but interesting year, a year like no other years before. I firmly believe it is a doorway to a different decade, therefore to a different way of life. Every morning, while having my strong black unsweetened filtered coffee, I stumble upon many small truths; most of the times I choose to go on as if nothing happened with an eager desire that things will go back to what they used to be before. Being aware of the useless nostalgia, I am trying to process the present which is, just like the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz describes it:

The present is saturated with the past and pregnant with the future.

The truths I encountered are clichés but practically crucial. Some of them are repeated daily, almost mechanically. Some others are theoretically true but difficult to execute. The beauty of them is their simplicity. The simplicity to face the ultimate inevitable truth: the tragic of life. Death is what makes life tragic and what gives meaning to it. So, what are these “truths” to handle tragedy?

  • Health, family and friendship are strong pillars to the monument of life.
  • Joy found in dissonance and disharmony in doing exactly the opposite of what we are told to do and makes us joyful. I can see you smiling while reading this: did it remind you of a teenage silliness? We need to go back to the teenage heart and follow it. LAUGHING OUT LOUD.

I am talking about joy and not empty abstract harmonious happiness.

  • Pleasure in every step of the way. Seek it.
  • Consumption leads to waste.
  • Breathing and moving are the best therapy.

In conclusion, time is wasted by “small truths” of required tasks to survive. “Big truths” are found in silence and stillness, at night when nature wakes up, in tragic scenes and scenarios. Don’t hate them and don’t try to forget them. Tragic is the meaning of life!

Gilles Deleuze on the world and space dilemma

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Cited as the most spatial philosophers, Gilles Deleuze emphasized on the concept of space throughout his writings by mixing philosophers’ concepts of space, such as Kant and Bergson, with artistic concepts of space, Francis Bacon and Paul Klee just to name a few. Architect and architectural theorists took somehow into consideration Deleuze’s view on space. However the plethora of the concepts of space that Deleuze crafted are more to be understood not only as vital but also as socio-political ways and ideas. Therefore, it is crucial to define space.

A space is the dimensions of height, depth, and width within which all things exist and move. It is as well the distance between one item and another. It is the frame or the contour of any deployed action. In other words, space and action are related. This is the reason why space in general is a wide concept, from vital space to infinite space, from quantum space to geographical barriers, from musical silence to perspectives in painting and so on; these are action related spaces, each depending on a specific field of studies. To Gilles Deleuze, all these spaces are folding and overlapping each other’s; they all exist together at the same time. Without delving into each concept, the focus here will be on the vital and the socio-political concepts of space.

How do they coexist nowadays? Is there a dilemma between them? What can Deleuze tell us more about the world today: should humanity fear an absence of space?

To answer these questions and to understand the real battle of the world, please read the full version of this post by clicking the link below:

https://www.academia.edu/43374126/Gilles_Deleuze_on_the_dilemma_of_space_and_the_world20200618_97724_pob6sn

Gilles Deleuze and his views on people

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For some, he was a complicated; for others he was an outstanding philosopher for his intertwined rich writings and his beliefs on people as individuals, capable of achieving the impossible. While other leftists prefers the social group over the individual (mostly communists do), Gilles Deleuze prevailed the importance of the individual in a world that is a web with no frontiers with endless domino and butterfly effects (Covid19 anyone?). The concept of the deleuzian space will be presented in a future post.

Consciousness is made of impressions and experiences. It is an ongoing process; one can’t achieve a set consciousness that doesn’t change. So, we go through lives affecting and being affected by the outside world and our strength is to be creators of new possibilities.

Here are some of his quotes that sum up his views on people.

A concept is a brick; it can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.

Philosophy, art and science are not the mental objects of an objectified brain but the three aspects under which the brain becomes subject.

A creator is someone who creates their own impossibilities and thereby creates possibilities.

There’s no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.

The self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two possibilities.

Drunkenness as a triumphant of the plant in us.

To affirm is not to bear, carry or harness oneself to that which exists, but on the contrary to unburden, unharness and set free which lives.

To those who say escaping is not courageous, we answer: what is not escape and social investment at the same time? (With Felix Guattari).

 

 

Gilles Deleuze on desire, becoming an Idiot and dismantling systems

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Following to my previous post on the concept of the Idiot by Gilles Deleuze that you can check on here:

The Idiot: Deleuze’s political concept to crack the system’s wall

Desire is a crucial concept in Deleuze’s philosophy. However, desire has two definitions. One that is the reason behind the world’s problems according to Deleuze and the second is the real underlying explanation of our life on all levels.

What is desire and what the Idiot has to do with it?

The traditional definition of desire is a tendency seeking pleasure. Since, the latter is sometimes problematic to moral values, it is recommended guiding desire to higher aims such as spiritual and intellectual ones or to morally accepted aims. This definition, inherited from Plato who guided desire to Ideals, can explain the existence of transcendent ideologies and systems that one has to believe in and desire to be part of.

The second definition is inherited from Spinoza: desire is understood as an unconscious energy, common to all living beings and not only to humans. This energy helps the living being to survive. So all thoughts and actions have an unconscious root; we act this or that way (it all depends on individual perception and interpretation) in order to make our way through life in terms of surviving and becoming more powerful.

Therefore, desire in general has two aspects: paranoia and schizophrenia. A paranoid desire is a desire as an energy that turned against itself by hanging on an ideology. The schizophrenic desire is the line of flight of the Idiot that cracks the system and dismantles it progressively. The Idiot is the creative free person who pursues his or her life in a total different way than his or her surrounding and history.

Racism is a paranoid desire and revolutions are mainly made of schizophrenic desire.

For those of you interested in more details on this subject, I ask you to check my short essay on this link:

https://www.academia.edu/43317392/Desire_by_Gilles_Deleuze_and_its_direct_impact_on_reality

And for the french speakers among you who want to check on my book reviews on the major book in two volumes by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, please check them on here:

https://www.academia.edu/39838346/LAnti-Oedipe_Gilles_Deleuze_et_Felix_Guattari

https://www.academia.edu/39895632/Mille_plateaux

 

 

 

The US riots: a mirror of the world

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What’s currently happening in the US happened in other big cities in the world in 2019. From Beirut to Tehran, to Paris and Alger,  to Catalonia and Latin America and so on, protesters screamed the same words:

All lives matter and dignity to people!

Better known as the Global Protest Wave of 2019 that continued through 2020, the US riots are a mirror of the world: same claims, same suffering, same hunger, same poverty, same injustice. Above all, governments are not trustworthy anymore. Most of world leaders are the 20th century product and mentality and we are in the 21st century, with different struggles and problems. The change needs to take place.

Economical injustice, poverty, weaken medical system (shown since the outbreak Covid19), climate change, corruption, cybernetics and the endless politicization of races and religions. Don’t expect the same leaders and traditional political parties to bring solutions. They are the ones responsible of the state of the world today.

Systems don’t last forever. Even the biggest empires in history ended up dismantled. Riots are, as the french philosopher Gilles Deleuze call it, “lines of flight” cracking the system’s wall from the inside. The reason behind it is that energy can’t be contained for too long. It will turn to anger and violence. Instead of facing the problems, most leaders are in denial, explaining these movements with interpretations and conspiracy theories showing their paranoid personality.

Despite unfortunate events in 2020 and thousands of deaths, maybe 2020 is the year to wake up and act. Maybe it is the year where we must know that we are all in this and that we need to back each others up. Maybe it is the year where we must see racial, gender and cultural differences as party outfits and deep inside we are all the same, humans. Maybe it is the year we must consider humanism and respect as the biggest values.

Fear leads to racism and fanaticism.

Fanaticism and racism lead to violence.

Violence leads to tragedy.

Maybe 2020 is the year to break this hateful cycle.

 

Going backward in 2020

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First, there is the pandemic, then the collective hysteria of shutting down borders and staying home, or not. Then came economical crisis. Then the world is trying to cope up with a harsh new reality. Then, here comes… Segregation!

I am not sure if there is a link between the peculiar pause of the world and racism. However I can’t help wondering how racism, fanaticism and culturalism still exist. People of my generation (I was born in the 20th century) thought we would have flying cars by now and a world with more justice. We really thought Hitler was dead to never be born again,. We also dreamed of having more of Martin Luther King and Gandhi. How romantic and stupid we were! How violent are the protests down the streets!

Racism, or any sort of dogmatism, is a question of identity. It is understandable that we fear for our identity. But we actually fear for the exterior aspect of it. Identity is more complex than the colour of a skin or any religious system.

Let’s dig deeper and I will talk about me: I am Lebanese, born during the civil war. I speak Arabic and I am also french educated. I learned Spanish in college and randomly Russian. I traveled and I have friends from different nationalities, religions, colours and cultural backgrounds. All these events and encounters added layers to my identity. So I am more what one can see of me and more complex than what is written on my identity card. I don’t fear for my identity because it goes beyond from any label. I am not one aspect and no the other. I am my experiences. And we are all very complex.  Can we stop human stupidity please?

I feel that 2020 is a long science-fiction movie!

 

 

The four questions of Kant and their eventual answers today

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In the Preface of The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant asks three questions that gave the fourth one. His project is an enquiry undertaken by Pure Reason to search out the limits of Pure Reason. The questions are the following:

What can I know?

What ought I to do?

What may I hope for?

What is man?

I will start with the last one just to figure out how we can answer these questions today.

What is man? Or what am I?

I was told by reading Kant and other philosophers that I am a rational being, capable of speaking (Aristotle), living through dialectics so that the Universal Reason can establish itself in the world (Hegel), among other definitions. How did it serve me today?

Since the 20th century, rationality is technical or technological and we are submitted to machines and algorithms. All other fields and walks of life evolve and revolve around infotech and biotech with a progressive absence of critical thinking. I love the Kantian project and I believe Kant is one of the biggest philosophers ever, but we are more emotional and practical beings than highly rational. How can the critical thinking “function” with the massive amount of news and fake news by the minute?

What can I know?

Everything and nothing thanks to social media. It all depends on how we use this tool to our full potential. Potential can differ from one person to another; however technology can be a wonderful tool to learn new skills and to be updated.

What ought I to do?

Other than surviving on all levels, I think ethics are the name of the game for the present and the future. It lies on freedom and courage to step forward and be responsible for the whole world.

What may I hope for?

That’s the most difficult question especially today when the world is stuck between the pandemics and the economy crisis. I think by willing to be flexible and accepting that change is inevitable, by willing to work differently and having a new perspective on life, can we hope for a better future.

The new normal

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photo by livescience.com

 

This new concept is everywhere now, underpinning new behaviours, new reflexes, new apprehensions and a new way of life. The so called “new normal’ is a normal reaction to an aftermath.

Knowing this fact, why to hate the new reality?

Reality is a complex concept. The etymology is Latin, res, which means “thing” (for example, the word republic comes from res publica, public thing. A dictatorship calling itself a republic is a contradiction of words). Therefore, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic notion of them.

Zooming in, it is clear that reality is made of different layers: social reality, political reality, public reality, personal reality, environmental reality, individual reality and so on. A repetitive collective action defines the norm or what is normal or abnormal. Wearing a mask has become a new normal as a planetary and an individual repetitive action due to the birth of a new layer: the pandemics.

This powerful new layer threatens all the other ones. Consequentially, new behaviours and ways of thinking and living have already taken place.

Is our life better or worse now? 

So far, we hate it. Humans are creatures of habits and rituals and the latter played a major role in cultural and social cohesion as well as in cultural differentiation throughout history of mankind. It goes for our safety, our sanity and our survival. Even our cells are units of habits. What is a disease other than a disruptive phenomenon in the genetically programmed organism?

The problem is, humans are not their cells. They are their own minds, emotions and desires. Only a human mind can be in denial of an actual threat while an organism can’t be so.

Modern philosophy defined humans as rational beings but we are not or at least not all the time.

We seek pleasure and we fear pain. We function by reward and punishment. If we were only rational, we wouldn’t be depressed facing the new normal.

If ever the pandemics would disappear forever, its consequences on the different layers of the world reality will remain. The new normal will eventually become the normal.