Thursday, April 30, 2015

Part 30: (Coupling; Narcissus, the Other, and Compassion): Dialogues on a Philosophy for the Individual

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2015)

With this post Flora Sapio and I (and friends from time to time) continue an experiment in collaborative dialogue. The object is to approach the issue of philosophical inquiry from another, and perhaps more fundamentally ancient, manner. We begin, with this post, to develop a philosophy for the individual that itself is grounded on the negation of the isolated self as a basis for thought, and for elaboration. This conversation, like many of its kind, will develop naturally, in fits and starts. Your participation is encouraged. For ease of reading Flora Sapio is identified as (FS), and Larry Catá Backer as (LCB).

The friends continue their discussion from Part 29, in which Betita Horm Pepulim (BHP) continues her response to the problem of the academic as an exemplar of the contradiction fo the individual in societal space, with a response by  Larry Catá Backer.

Contents: HERE

(BHP) Larry Catá Backer, Flora Sapio Imperatrix Maris and Ulisses Schwarz Viana I would like to emphasize that in no way am belittling the stress that occurs in the academic environment. On the contrary, I know that there, and I have a lot of respect for the pain it causes. I just think that the news on this subject, that not provide any useful advice to deal with it, often only lead to the public an idea of the problem as a single fact, and established, as something that simply exists and has no solution. And it's not. All professions can cause some form of illness. Our body and our mind are "machines" that do not allow replace parts. Allows you to control damage only . Whatever you use, suffer wear. rsrsr The instability of employment. Yes it is a problem. And to me it seems a unsolved problem. The population has increased a lot, and there are good and bad professionals. What could benefit the good professional, can also benefit the "bad" professional. On this issue I do not know what to say. As for the stress it causes, the only solution I see is to try to do the best we can. Because about the rest, we have no control.With respect to students, an individual can face the same situation, in various ways. If you're happy and at peace, the snoring of the loved one is no heard. But if you're troubled. He is worse than a jackhammer. I think what the solution for the students is to make them really understand all the baggage that accompanies every decision they make. This includes doing a one graduate, or one post graduation what, perhaps, they have the chance to make. If they think they can not endure stress, they must have a plan B or a plan C. But if they choose to continue, I think when they are suffering, they should seek help from a psychologist, or make a exercise or even eat several chocolates. The popular wisdom says that chocolate is very good for stress. Hugs!

PS. In my personal view, when we disclose a problem we should seek to suggest some kind of solution. Disclose a problem, only to disclose only serves to create "panic" But remember, please, this is just my personal opinion. Can be not correct. Larry, Flora e Ulysses Eu gostaria de enfatizar que de maneira nenhuma estou menosprezando o estresse que ocorre no ambiente acadêmico. Pelo contrário, eu sei que há, e tenho muito respeito pela dor que causa. Eu só acho que notícias sobre este assunto, que não fornecem qualquer tipo de conselho útil para lidar com este problema, muitas vezes, apenas levam ao público uma ideia do problema como sendo um único fato, e estabelecido, como algo que simplesmente existe e não tem solução. E não é. Todas as profissões podem causar algum tipo de adoecimento. Nosso corpo e nossa mente são "máquinas" que não permitem a substituição de peças. Permitem apenas o controle de danos. O que quer que você use, sofre desgaste. A instabilidade de emprego. Sim, é um problema. E, para mim, parece um problema sem solução. A população aumentou muito, e há bons e maus profissionais. O que poderia beneficiar o bom profissional, pode também beneficiar o "mau" profissional. Sobre esta questão, eu não sei o que dizer. Quanto ao estresse que provoca, a única solução que vejo é tentar fazer o melhor que pudermos. Porque quanto ao resto, não temos controle. No que tange aos alunos, um indivíduo pode enfrentar a mesma situação, de várias maneiras. Se você está feliz e em paz, o ronco da pessoa amada sequer é ouvido. Mas se você está preocupado, chateado ou brabo. Ele é pior do que uma britadeira. Eu acho que a solução para os alunos é fazê-los realmente compreender toda a bagagem que acompanha cada decisão que tomam. Isto inclui fazer uma graduação ou uma pós-graduação que, talvez, eles possam vir a ter a chance de fazer. Se eles pensam que não podem suportar o estresse, eles devem ter um plano B ou um plano C. Mas, se optarem por continuar, eu acho que quando eles estiverem sofrendo, eles devem procurar ajuda de um psicólogo, ou fazer um exercício ou até mesmo comer vários chocolates. A sabedoria popular diz que o chocolate é muito bom para o stress. Abraços!

PS. Na minha opinião pessoal, quando divulgamos um problema devemos procurar sugerir algum tipo de solução. Divulgar um problema, apenas para divulgar só serve para criar "pânico" Mas lembrem-se, por favor, esta é apenas a minha opinião pessoal. Pode não estar correta.

(LCB) And what this conversation reveals, again, os the difficulty posed by the core semiotic insight. To some extent, at the level of an individual confronting the peculiarities of a specific institution, there may well be "solutions" in the form of compromise, avoidance, acceptance, change, therapy, socialization, etc. Yet to the extent this represents a "type" of problem, a specific example of a set of aggregated relationships, then the problem becomes more difficult--in this case the problem of the character of the academic institution, its expectations and the nature of the master-servant relationship in factories that inject students into wage labor markets and "knowledge" into the societal sphere. And yet again to the extent this specific, and aggregate set of semiotic relationships represents movements in shaping the boundaries within which we build a logical structure of reality to which we bind ourselves through our societal structures, the defining of labor within master institutions, the quality of servility of the academic, the contradictions between the disaggregated individual and the mass expectation thrust upon and within her by the interpretant (institutions, societal expectations, realities, etc.), then the problem, and its solution, acquires yet a distinct character.

To the extent we deal with the academic in the environment of the U.K. university system, one deals with the issue of the adjustment of power and expectations within an industry undergoing substantial change, and the nostalgia of labor for its prerogatives increasingly impossible to maintain. One also deals with the consequences, for administration and the state, of redefining the relative rules, and shifting power relations, among the stakeholders in this industry, including, ultimately the demise of the industry itself as the choices made produce, yet again, a vertically arranged class system for the injection fo knowledge into portions of a society, whose place within the broader political and economic order will be defined thereby. That is not a problem of philosophy except as irony--the playing out of the logic of webs of relationships and expectations molded together into "truths" whose own logic reinforce their pre-judgement.  That applies as much to the contradiction of the individual academic in the face of a hostile university environment in which the logics of personal and institutional advantage conflict, or better, hardly intersect, as it does to the problem of the semiotic contradiction of the "types" --academic and university--whose interpretation will shift dramatically depending on which is the sign and which the interpretant (again the problem of perspective where interpretive realities do not harmonize).

There is much of value in that contradiction of use to the exploration of the individual.  The theories of labor underlying the problems of the academic in an institutional environment shape not merely the character of her service (the nature and dignity of the employment relationship and thus of the expectations of servility and dignity, the limits of the reach of the master to control the  servant-employee) but also the extent to which the power of the outside to project inward into the individual both fashions a mutual reality that is embraced and absorbed as an inseparable part of individual being (the structures of service to masters as as structured through societal rules however denominated (e.g. custom, religious expectations, ethics, morals, or the like, it does not matter)) and of the society of which gives her meaning and the tension that creates within that part of the individual that means detached form the meaning imposed on her in that way.  Thus the angst and anomie beyond the mere whining about changes in the terms and conditions of employment.

That last consideration might lead us eventually to the consideration of the largest context in which the problem of the academic within the U.K. university establishment finds herself. To the extent that we deal with the larger societal problem we may confront the weakness, to which I have been hinting over the course of our conversation, the chink in the apparently impenetrable wall, of the core semiotic construct whose logic is bound up in the eternal triangle of object-sign-interpretant.  The weakness: that the semiotic core premise on which everything from our systems theory to our post modernist notions of  societal construction and "the other" etc, are built, is itself grounded in the premise that there is no possibility of escape from the core premise itself--that there is always object-sign-interpretant, and that challenges to that premise can always be reduced to the problem of failing to appropriately identify object-sign-interpret.  And yet, our depressed university academic suggests the difficulty as that premise.  She suggests that the seal of that premise is only as powerful as the strength of the interpretant community to enforce it.  Yet beneath or beyond it lies another space, one in which the semiotic relationship may not reach, but which may affect its expression in the individual--that space that remains even after the "interpretant-societal-other" defines the "I."  That is the space which struggles against the injection even as it accepts it, that is the space, traditionally a reactive space, which resists.  That is the place that is disciplined through the mechanisms of deviance, insanity, rebellion, class structures, servitude as well as the traps of luxury and power, and the fear of anarchy and chaos (two quite distinct terrors).  One achieves personal liberation only through the suppression of the self within the self that is projected inward from outside the self--the Marxists and leaders of institutional religions have understood this quite well in devoting substantial societal resources to the issue of education (which is an efficient way of delivering the societal vaccine), Western democracies abandon this at their peril to the project of maintaining a disciplined aggregate self through the internalization of aggregated individualism. 

The old philosophers viewed this as well from a variety of perspectives.  We have been considering Aristotle, of course, who thought that there might be a harmonious co-existence between the internalized societal self and what remained of the differentiated individual (except in the case of the natural slave, now better understood as the individual without even a small remnant of the differentiated self). Others worried about the liberation within a social context in which society would inevitably exact its revenge, or where such liberation might destroy society or remake it in some sort of utopian or better model. Of course the idea of liberation by "improving" the system against which one rebels is itself ironic and ultimately little more than an aesthetic exercise--perhaps bathos. Some got very close to an understanding of the mechanics of the interpretant function of the semiotic premise, Foucault in particular. Nietzsche hinted at the remaking of the premise through a heroic and internal process, but one available only to those heroes capable of liberation within an inescapable societal reality that could not otherwise be escaped and whose inevitable collapse and reconstruction provided the meat of philosophy, history, economics, religion and morals. The "type" of the depressed academic invites us to a deeper consideration of the semiotic premise, and an escape from its self referencing logic. The exploration of the differentiated self beyond the societal self awaits.

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