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Re: Affective measures in the social sciences produce more ideologic agitprop...
by Nemonemini
15 September 2002 00:31 UTC
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Maybe you should read some Rousseau. I was just reading-reviewing a new book 
by Richard Velkley, Being After Rousseau, discussing his place in relation to 
the Enlightenment, history, physics, Kant, and much else. 
His 'dialectic' of the rational and the 'affective', feeling, asked the 
restoration of what the rising physics had filtered out of the account of 
I will post a short squashed review below. You might consider how Rousseau 
would have taken all these issues of a science of history, even as he 
wrestled with questions of evolution, in a real sense, way before Darwin. 

My eonic effect, or eonic model, can be taken as a model of the Incredible 
Disappearing Theory. A 'discrete-continuous' model of the type I construct 
shows a contrast of 'system' and 'free action' in the sense I define. 
One consequence is the way the 'system' aspect switches off in the present 
leaving the individual  We lose prediction, but we can a usable 'theory' for 
the first time. One that doesn't clutter the present with high IQ stupidity 
of math model that explain nothing. 

The review below shows just how slick the historical process is. It would 
yield to Newtonian methods. Of course, there is a lot of talk of emergent 
systems, all to the good. But we have to see the subtle level history is 
operating on. 

In any case, Rousseau is the explosive mix of the type Marx struggles with in 
his species being. Excoriated or classic, who can say. 
His approach goes beyond theories, yet stumbles on the first requirement of 
any theory, the place of the individual in a system, and the place of a 
system of history or evolution, near the individual. 

R. Velkley, Being After Rousseau
As I picked up this book, I thought of having read an account of pirates on 
the river Euphrates in Sumerian times, and the constant disruption of the new 
agriculture with its immense potential, the crisis of the Neolithic giving 
birth to the State. Yet this beginning, as a breakthrough to 'freedom in the 
State', the incident of middle passage from some unknown 'state of nature', 
is ambiguous, for its recursions the 'births of the state', produce over the 
long term the phenomenon of Empire, the Assyrian endgame. It is counterpoint 
to a next 'beginning', the great Axial age of religion, science, philosophy 
born, notably the birth from renewed republics of democracy in the Greek 
world, beside the implicit 'freedom from history and empire' in the parallel 
Judaic, at the fringes of empires spawned in the original Mesopotamian field. 
And the rising tide of slavery, like a progressive disease, coexists with 
these births of 'civilization' unable to check its force.  If the figure of 
Rousseau is controversial, the source of contradictory gestures, it is 
because he grapples with the new beginning of the modern in terms of its true 
inherited contradictions, two opposites taken at once, in some version of a 
dialectic, the opposite chords of the word 'freedom', in a age about to 
bifurcate into libertarian and collectivist extremes.  
No mystery then that Rousseau should protest something is amiss in the 
progressions of the state. Its long term 'evolution' toward mechanization 
interrupted with new beginnings of freedom is a riddle to confound our 'noble 
savage'. Even in his generation a great birth, or rebirth, of ideas of 
freedom is occurring, and his tussle with the real concepts before they 
become slogans is both the signature of his creative genius, and the source 
of the many wild pitches that have haunted his reputation, even now the 
object of attack.  Nor is it surprising that this duality should give rise to 
some sort of distinction between civilization and culture, which is the 
starting point of Richard Velkley's most interesting and very acute Being 
After Rousseau. This distinction, after Nietzsche, Spengler, and Heidegger, 
seems almost unrecognizable, but invokes the realm of moral freedom in the 
individual bound in his civilization. The book opens with two questions: What 
is the being called the "philosopher"? What is the relation of the 
philosopher to something called "culture"? And there is a challenge to the 
foundations of both. And his epigram to the Introduction quotes from The 
Social Contract, "The great soul of the Lawgiver is the true miracle which 
must prove his mission". Beside our late philosopher-king we have the 
individualist and citizen vagrant of the early discourses whose challenge to 
the Enlightenment is a counterpoint, to deepen it. If Rousseau is the Newton 
of the mind, perhaps Newton is the Rousseau of physics, for we forget that he 
exempts the human will from his system of laws. This gesture indicates an 
understanding the coming scientism will lose, and the problem of human self, 
wholeness, and purpose Rousseau senses, Kant elaborates, and which German 
philosophy from Fichte to Heidegger will attempt to resolve.  The ambiguity 
of some transcendental order confounds the need to find the true beginning of 
culture in the spontaneity of human freedom and creativity, the inner 
'lawgiver'. The echo in Kant transforms the question, and reaches a peak in 
the challenge to the transcendent and the metaphysics of self, in the mystery 
of the ground of its own being, as the logic and categories and their 
condition in the "I" of apperception. And Kant will find beyond the enigma of 
the 'moral self' the connection to the realm of art, and the teleological, in 
the antinomies of the causal. Beside his conservative critics, Rousseau is 
now challenged by the sociobiologists in a notable attempt to recast man's 
emergence with theories of evolution. But at the point where the ethical is 
to be reduced to the mechanism of natural selection, Rousseau remains 
stubbornly relevant to the core issue of historical evolution in the descent 
of man, for the standard Darwinian account resumes the deadlock before the 
somesuch distinction of civilization and culture. The terms might confuse us 
here, for the distinction of man as creature and man as 'civilized' at all 
would be but an earlier version of this search for the component of culture. 
And that puts Rousseau into the ring with Darwin very directly. Rousseau is 
an early evolutionist, what more can be said. The component of evolution, as 
history, is however the missing dilemma of the whole question, although Kant 
in his brilliant series of Critiques arrives in his third at the issue of 
teleology, whose component once again is both social or historical and 
individual. The question of history is thus unresolved, even as repeatedly 
addressed,  although Kant with his 'idea for a universal history' provides 
the rubric or question to see the resolution as the very preoccupation with 
'new beginnings' in the 'middle passage', the rise of the modern being one of 
its most recent incidents, and these 'poets' its implicit lawgivers. 'What is 
Enlightenment?' is both a psychological and an historical question. Indeed 
the discourse peaks with Kant, and we see in Heidegger, strange golum finding 
the hidden ring, a looking backward, and an extreme version with one deep 
insight, the connection to the moment of the birth of philosophy, and the 
beginningless Being. His complaint that we reify these 'gifts' of nature 
provokes the need for this universal history, and the missing chord Schelling 
so wishes to elicit from a new metaphysics. Will this be our fate, as we 
discard the metanarrative of these lawgivers, and their tour de force? 
This is a highly challenging and valuable work, and braves the impossible of 
such differing thinkers seen in sequence. One could only complain of the 
incompletion of the more Herculean effort to treat Hegel, Schopenhauer, and 
the full scope of this philosophic mystery. One can only be thankful what is 

John Landon
Website on the eonic effect

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