Problematic pragmatism [feb 2015, chronicles of DisInfection]


There is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves. – RiRo

Bildschirmfoto 2015-02-23 um 23.55.11Many aspects of the pragmatist approach are easy to like. For one, they are, as we all should be, tired of the subjective-objective, appearance-reality dichotomy. In millenia of philosophizing it hasn‘t borne all too productive fruit. Yet, as in this quote, pragmatism, always giving the exigencies of the situation-at-hand the benefit of the doubt, at times seems to hit, despite itself, the wall of realism.

What could this mean? Yes, fine, the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain, the brain is of this world, the mind must needs be contiguous with the world, the cosm – roger all that mon ami.
But! A Darwinian account? Darwinism nicely floats the theoretical boat in terms of biological evolution and many aspects of… I dunno the terminology… transgenerational genetic dynamics, I suppose. Yet it pulls up awfully short when it comes to culture, more particularly meaning–making: e.g. I simply do not read Roth to heighten my chances of a good shag on weekends. [Mind you, this is leaving aside the perennial, fundamental and extremely irksome misconception that Darwin‘s original theory was focused on individuals; whereas it explicitly is based on populations, a (social) collective!].
Rorty might not be aware of it, but „coping“ has long since become a useful term in neolib‘s suspension-of-solidarity strategy: each single individual only has to help itself. Or more nicely put: The lower income demographic has evolved coping mechanisms that allow it to adapt to and evolve in an environment of sub-ideal market conditions and goods-/services-distribution; under these circumstances any implementation of redistributional policies is likely to adversely affect the natural growth of national and global markets. Some such sputum.
So here‘s the condensed catch: at the very moment that pragmatism tries to cut itself loose from an allegedly archaic longing for a transcendental God or transcendental Reason, it hitches its wagon to a nearly equally transcendental Darwinism. The grave abuse of evolutionary theory which, in trying to explain every human phenomena under the sun, ends up not not explaining anything but seriously weakening the credibility of its exponents. And turning pragmatism from an instrument of better thought into [head droops, thorax slumps, sigh hisses] an instrument of politics. There has to be more to human existence than a table being either a hardwood, outside reality with four legs or a passable surface for my egocentric genes‘ sake.

¡™∞¶•

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About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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