Tag Archives: truth

Nine Theses on Fire Politics

In his Theses on Feuerbach, Karl Marx includes eleven statements expanding on the materialist philosophy of Ludwig  Feuerbach. Marx does not mention the material burning within the German name Feuerbach: the elemental materiality of fire (Feuer). More than 150 years later, Jacques Rancière’s Ten Theses on Politics proposed an aesthetic definition of politics as dissensus (not consensus), a distancing of the aesthetic from itself: a partition, distribution, or sharing of the sensible (partage du sensible). Between these materialist and aesthetic political philosophies, there are cinders, remnants of another politics: sharing fire (partage du feu). Theses are burning down, from Marx’s eleven theses, down to Rancière’s ten theses, down to the following nine theses on Feuerpolitik.
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Inhuman Perspectivism: A Truth of the Relative

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari distinguish between the relativity of truth and the truth of the relative in their concept of partial observers.  Unlike claims of a relativity of truth, for which truth is relative to different subject positions of human observers, the truth of the relative is inhuman, constituted by the experimental/experiential forces of the things themselves.   Consider their conceptualization of perspectivism in light of quantum physics. 

Heisenberg’s demon does not express the impossibility of measuring both the speed and the position of a particle on the grounds of a subjective interference of the measure with the measured, but it measures exactly an objective state of affairs that leaves the respective position of two of its particles outside of the field of its actualization, the number of independent variables being reduced and the values of the coordinates having the same probability. […]  Perspectivism, or scientific relativism, is never relative to a subject: it constitutes not a relativity of truth but, on the contrary, a truth of the relative, that is to say, of variables whose cases it orders according to the values it extracts from them in its system of coordinates. […]  In short, the role of a partial observer is to perceive and to experience, although these perceptions and affections are not those of a man, in the currently accepted sense, but belong to the things studied. […] Partial observers are forces. […] Partial observers are sensibilia.  [What is Philosophy? (1994) pp. 129-131]

Truth and Philosophy on the Way

Not just Hannah Arendt’s teacher, Karl Jaspers is a great philosopher in his own right.  His work has been influential for many developments in twentieth-century philosophy, theology, and psychiatry.  Here are two quotations in which he provides basic (yet profound) definitions of truth and philosophy.

“Within time, truth is forever underway, always in motion and not final even in its most marvelous crystallizations.”     Tragedy Is Not Enough (1952, p. 104)

“The Greek word for philosopher (philosophos) connotes a distinction from sophos.  It signifies the lover of wisdom (knowledge) as distinguished from him who considers himself wise in the possession of knowledge.  This meaning of the word still endures: the essence of philosophy is not the possession of truth but the search for truth, regardless of how many philosophy may belie it with their dogmatism, that is, with a body of didactic principles purporting to be definitive and complete.  Philosophy means to be on the way.  Its questions are more essential than its answers, and ever answer becomes a new question.”   Way to Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy (2003, p. 12)