Saturday, May 30, 2009


Pictured: Caravaggio, The Raising of Lazarus, Museo Regionale, Messina, 1609

Metaphysics –
“… metaphysics was the ‘science’ that studied ‘being as such’ or ‘the first cause of things’ or ‘things that do not change.’ It is no longer possible to define metaphysics [in this way] … there are many philosophical problems… now considered … metaphysical … in no way related to first causes or unchanging things; the problem of free will, for example, or the problem of the mental and the physical.”

From a renaming of fourteen of Aristotle’s works that have been given the collective title “Metaphysics.”

• Chinese metaphysics = “that which is above matter” (the study of)

- the science of divine things.
Viewed May 30, 2009

Metaphysics – an umbrella overarching.

I have been thinking awhile on Metaphysics and as well as on Derrida’s theology. Derrida’s is I think perhaps a purer theology than some others in that it is freed from the theos.

Also I have been thinking awhile about the nature of ethic/ethos. How does one become “ethical”? How does one know “good”? To define a “good” first one must become awake to a need to define a “good:” a conscious examination of what is a “good” and by what criteria it will be measured.

Can that definition come from the exterior? To some extent it must. It comes in part from instruction and in part, and perhaps more fully, from the observation of the consequences resulting from the choices and the acts of the individual and others. This need for study makes pre-requisite the passage of time and in some measure of awareness.

How long does it take to develop a knowing of “good”? For some a “good” is never known because it is never questioned, never consciously considered. It is for most a process of degrees that does not end until this self is ended.

“This becoming responsible… This trembling seizes one at the moment of becoming a person, and the person can become what it is only in being paralyzed [_transie_], in its very singularity, by the gaze of God. Then it [the person] sees itself seen by the gaze of another, ‘a supreme, absolute and inaccessible being who holds us in his hand not by exterior but by interior force’ (Jan Patocka, Heretical Essays on the Philosophy of History, 116 – quoted by Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death, 6, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1995)

Consciousness is the waking of the interior witness. As discussed in Patocka, it is the presence of God. It, the witness, becomes the self that is aware. Without this awakened self it is impossible to take responsibility. “To take responsibility” requires a self-interrogation, an awake interior witness that holds the self accountable to a criteria. This constitutes the integrity of the self. The consistency of the logic exercised is the only means by which the ethical nature of the exterior self is manifested. The interior witness is unknowable, un-accessible to any other but the self to which it bears witness. It is a mystery. Its nature can only be imagined through the logic which is demonstrated by the actions of that external self.

Lack of responsibility grants authority to something other than the witness/self. This “other voice”, of my mother, of my teacher, of my neighbor, of my community’s collective voice, of my political party, of my gang, of my religion, or yet some other-other; may define for me an externally determined “good” and become an internalizing of a “better than.” By employing this authority I may employ a criteria that places my performance of “goodness” as a contrast to the definitions of “goodness” held by others. This accounting to an external authority reassures me that I am better than some other and relieves me of doubt and the work of self questioning.

Eg.: the making of a bowl – clean and perfect – demonstrates to you, the external, my ability to “make good”; to follow the rules of “goodness” – those rules unto which I have been inculcated, they are second nature, an interior, yet un-interrogated voice.

This is the performance of training; doing without thinking; doing without consideration.

An individual’s ethics are played out in the performance of the good. How deeply interrogated are its conditions? How consistent is the employment of the logic extended from it? And what are the limits of that logic’s extension?

It requires the work of thinking to take responsibility. It is reasonable, and almost impossible to do otherwise, to make a formulation for what will constitutes ones ethics from other sources, but it is irresponsible to do so without an interior dialogue which questions the meanings and applications of the positions: to think closely, to take the time to denote and privilege what one values.

How do we know good?

Who is it that I want to be? How do I reconcile my failures with my ideals? When do I become awake?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

discourse on exchange...

There is a fantasy of intercourse without expectation or responsibility.

All intercourse carries an expectation of exchange. Something is imparted.

To deny responsibility is to fail to pay what is due.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

same sex marriage and equal rights

Headline from ABC News, Tuesday, May 26 - "Calif. High Court Upholds Gay Marriage Ban, but Allows Pre-Existing Same-Sex Marriages to Stand"

The U.S. supposedly practices the separation of church and state. Justice in the U.S. is supposedly blind. On what grounds, other than religious, could a ban on same sex marriage be upheld? The meanness and short-sightedness of some of my countrymen confounds me.

Given that it is typically Christians driving these issues, I ask, what would Jesus do? It seems reasonable to suppose that he would leave the doings of the state to the state. He went to the well. He spoke with the woman. He sought solutions in the hearts of men and women and not through external controls. He loved.

"It is not for you to call profane what God counts clean." Acts 11:9

and it seems from this... as in other places... it is not for "you" or "me" to call, but some higher authority to determine the question of worthiness...