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About meI am but another late twentieth century postmodern nihilist who, thanks to reading the philosophers, is now appalled by said nihilism. Thus I am fascinated by modern/postmodern attempts to get around modern nihilism; including, but certainly not limited to, Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kojeve, and Leo Strauss. My search has also led me to the ancient (most especially Plato and Aristotle) and Medieval (Al-Farabi, Averroes, Maimonides and Aquinas, e.g.) and also early modern (such as Machiavelli, Descartes, Spinoza, and Kant) philosophers. But I have come to doubt that there is any theoretical solution to the fundamentally problematical character of our modern/postmodern world.
...So what happens? - The same thing that happened during the fall of the Roman Empire; a new extra-philosophical religion rises!
Now, I have several obscure obsessions to go along with that rather large one. I mention only a few here. First, Plato's Eleatic Stranger (in Sophist/Statesman) and his contrast with the Platonic Socrates. The dramatic dating of the dialogues Sophist/Statesman coincides with the beginning of the trial of Socrates. Thus we have Socrates death coinciding with the Stranger disappearing from history. In their own ways they (Socrates/Stranger) both chose silence. But philosophical silence is the possibility Plato passes over in utter contempt... The veiled speaking Plato attempts involves public (or exoteric) homage to Athens Nomos (or 'divine' Laws) and hidden (or esoteric) criticism and 'rationalization' of them.
The ramifications of Medieval Aristotelianism (and, naturally, Alfarabi and Averroes) also continue to occupy me. The possibility of Science (Wisdom) that they fought for against the Theologians (who, in the end, were only concerned with God's Freedom & Power) was doomed. In Islam, Averroes was virtually forgotten. No? Well, for example, many of his works that we have today only exist in non-Arabic sources. In the Latin West, some of the positions of Aquinas are condemned in 1277 in Paris, along with those of Averroes, Siger and Boethius. After Aquinas, and as a consequence of the Great Condemnation, Nominalism rises in Christian Theology but it is really only a Latin form of Islamic Kalam (Speculative Theology). In Islam Aristotelianism dies, but in the West the secularist 'Latin Averroism' goes underground (e.g., Marsilius, Dante) and emerges in the Renaissance. ...With consequences we are still reeling from today.
Nietzsche, who was the first to face up to the full consequences of the fact that it has proven impossible to found a culture on knowledge, is also someone I've spent a great deal of thought on. (See, for example, Gay Science, Book III, Section 110, on the impossibility of the needs and purposes of knowledge and human life ever syncing up.) Once one has accepted this disjunction between human socio-cultural life and knowledge - well, what then follows? Zarathustra follows! Nietzsche has set loose forces, behind the scenes and between the lines, that will result (much to the consternation of most of the members of the strange herd that call themselves 'Nietzscheans') in the rise of a new religion. Laurence Lampert is certainly the most intelligent and informed guide out there to this interpretation, I should say to the consequences of this interpretation, of Nietzsche.
Besides Nietzsche, some more contemporary interests are Marxism (Existential, Western, and Critical Theory), Anarcho-Libertarianism, Fascism (Cultural, even political, but certainly not racist), and the issues that swirl around Kojeve and Leo Strauss. But why are my most modern interests so 'political' while my ancient and medieval fascinations were so much more philosophical and, to a lesser degree, theological? Good question. Briefly, in order to deal with the murder of Socrates Plato sets loose forces that -whether he intended to or not is a separate question- transformed the world. It was the medieval philosophers from Farabi on, living in monotheistic 'Platonisms for the People', that first attempted to deal with this unexpected transformation. This 'dealing with' came to be understood, in the closed circle of Latin Averroism, as the attempt to secularize the world...
[Perhaps I can be forgiven a digression at this point: Why the hesitation in attributing our various Platonisms, and especially the first 'Platonism for the People' (Christianity), to Plato Himself? Because Plato is of the Classical Greeks, and a 'philosophy for the people' would have struck them (i.e., the classical Greek Philosophers) as a joke. But more; there was a desperation in Rome (late Republic, Empire) that was foreign to the Greek mind. It has to do (I think) with the vagaries of Empire: there is simply never enough Time! Wherever we look we find this desperation: Cato's trying to rally the Old Senatorial Values when the administrative needs of Empire were making them irrelevant. Or Cicero, in the Civil war, trying to cobble together an alliance between between the Old Irrelevancy and the New Realities (i.e., Senate and Dynasty, Cato and Pompey) that was doomed. We also see this desperation in the Empire, especially the later Empire, in the various, failed, doomed plans of Emperors to reinvigorate the Empire. The rise of any 'Platonism' (that is and for example: Christianity, Islam, Liberal secular Modernity, Communism) requires a desperation that Classical Greece never achieved. Properly speaking, the 'West' begins in Rome (essentially, the conquests of Alexander were an exercise in megalomania; the theory and practice of 'Universalism' first rises in Rome), and the History of the West is the history of the ramifications and sublimations of this 'Universalist' desperation. I mean, of course, the desperate attempt to make the world One, - which goes on even today... When will the next 'philosophy for the people' rise? What will it be? Digression concluded.]
The 'success' of this attempt to secularize the world led to the modern problem philosophy faces today; Ideology has replaced Revelation as the great danger and philosophy has leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire. A thumbnail sketch of the history of Philosophy would thus read: Plato made (perhaps inadvertently) a world. Farabi began the process of understanding and dealing with this creation. This 'process' replaced (philosophically inspired) Revelation with (philosophically inspired) Ideology. And today? Philosophers as different as Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Kojeve propose to remake the world yet again!
Thus the history of philosophy would seem to (thus far) have a tripartite structure. First, the struggle against Sophistry (Nihilism) is begun with Socrates and then Plato. Note that although the Sophists were contemptuous of the nomoi (divine laws) of the various cities they really only drew the obvious conclusions that one would draw from the 'fact' of there being many 'gods' and thus many laws. In any case, this struggle against sophistry eventually creates a solution: monotheism. But it is eventually seen (first by the philosophers) that this solution (Religion) is only another set of problems. The philosophical attempt to solve the problems of universal revealed monotheistic religion results in the latest articulation of our philosophical history: secular modernity. Now, it has become obvious to anyone who thinks that this 'solution' has given us yet another set of problems. Thus Sophistry (or nihilism) and the opposition to it (Religion, Politics) have all posed (seemingly) insurmountable problems to philosophy. One wonders if these three opponents of philosophy (the worlds of Sophistic Nihilism, Religion, Politics) are all philosophy will ever face. And people wonder why Nietzsche named History the 'Eternal Return of the Same'!
Marx and Nietzsche have opted for Politics and Religion (of course, a 'different' politics and a 'different' religion) as 'solutions' to the modern crisis. But Heidegger, I mean the later Heidegger, amazingly proposes that we, in effect, withdraw philosophy from the world and allow the multiple nomoi to once again arise! This last can really be the only result of the fall of the 'metaphysical regimes' that Heidegger and his followers have been prophesying for the past fifty years. The world of Nomos gives rise to Sophistry, the resistance to sophistry leads to universal Religion. When this becomes a problem our modern secular (Political) world rises. It would seem that, according to Heidegger, we are now to start all over again. What makes Kojeve so interesting to me is his attempt to put Heidegger and Marx together in the Universal Homogenous State. This Final State (UHS) is made by our work (this is the Hegelo-Marxist component) but there is no philosophy (no metaphysical regimes, as Heidegger might say) there at all. Now, I have been wondering for a while if Kojeve erred in not making room in the UHS for a (Nietzschean or Hegelian) Religion. Now that is something that can be revealed only when the various sophistries (such as postmodernism), religions (Christianity, Islam, e.g.), and political ideologies (like liberalism, socialism, fascism) disappear.
...But nothing dies at the right time - absolutely nothing at all. And thus this 'second making' of philosophy, whatever it may turn out to be, will likely involve the horrible death of untold millions. ...Sigh. It would seem that even those that understand history are doomed to repeat it.
About my libraryAbandon all hope ye who enter here - (Dante)
These are the words that should hang over any intelligently stocked Library. History, at one and the same time butchers bench and insane asylum, teaches us that eventually everything falls apart; that all solutions are transient and only problems endure. But with continuous problems so too our bottomless responsibility abides. The fact that there are always problems does not excuse any of us from the necessity of dealing with them. We manufacture 'solutions' that we know will either turn into monsters or crumble into dust - but still we must all work to 'solve' problems. Generally speaking, the solutions that are (at least in part) philosophically inspired last longest. But the philosophers surely know, although they certainly will not say, that everything that they make must one day be destroyed. ...But why must their creations be destroyed?
Philosophy is the strongest of all - it creates worlds!
But philosophy is the weakest of all that inhabit these artifactual worlds - it can never rule them...
If this were a syllogism (and it is not) I would conclude by saying that Philosophy (i.e., Western Philosophy) only reaps what it sows.
So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear... (Milton)
Necessity be thou my good.
Since I have been asked how I keep my Library I will say something on it.
1. Collections: A single book should only be in one collection. (With one notable exception.) Each of my collections is like a bucket of marbles. A certain marble (i.e., a specific book) can only be in one bucket at a time. I use collections to help me find my books.
(Note that I do have duplicate books. Each of these individual duplicate books should have separate entries and be tagged with my "Known and Intended Duplicates" tag.)
The 'one notable exception' mentioned above is my 'Favorites' collection. Every book in my Favorites collection also exists in another collection.
Now, the "Your Library" collection consists of all my physical books. Most of the other collections are electronic editions. Except for the books in my "Read but unowned" collection, which exist, ever more faintly, in my receding memory. Books in all of the above collections can share the same tag names.
2. Tags. The books in the "Wishlist" collection have their own tags, which always begin with 'WL'. In this way I know that I don't have the book, physically or electronically. Most of my tags are pretty self-explanatory. There are a lot of them but if I am searching for something they are a help. Click on 'Tag Cloud' to see my tags.
Some tags with books that might be of a more general interest:
Alternate (or Pseudo) History? / Alternate (or Pseudo) Science?
Books That Need to be Reprinted
Books with Comments
Capitalism: Origins and Early Development
Christianity Through The Prism Sæculares
Classics of Political Thought
Classics of Western Marxism
Collapse - Decline and Fall
Cultural Pessimism: Historical - Political - Philosophical
Essayists - Humanists - Moralists
Fairy Tale / Folklore
Genes - IQ - Mind - Race
History: the Long View
Intellectual History and History of Ideas
Islam and Europe
Liberal Left and Related
Religion: Various Explanations and Possibilities
Socio-Historical Cycle Theory
Some Contemporary Controversies...
Strategy and War
Sui Generis (or Remarkable)
The Rise of Civilization and Some Early Civilizations - Possibilities and Examples
I have many more tags than the few listed above. I obsess over philosophy; few share that obsession. In the above tags I believe that most will find an interesting book to read.
Yes, I have a lot of tags. I find that a lot of tags help me find topics in unexpected places. Sometimes while reading I will think I've seen the exact same point (or its counter point) made elsewhere. I find that my numerous tags help me narrow down the 'elsewhere'.
3. Comments: In the comments field (column) of the various collections I sometimes leave notes regarding the particular book, a tag it is in, my library, LT, and problems thereof. Also, in the comments field I sometimes put the table of contents of the book. (This also helps when I am searching for something.) And sometimes I put remarks in the comments column that I may use for a review one day.
If you click on my "Books with Comments" tag make sure you are looking in the All Collections view and you can see all my comments regarding books in that tag.
But here is the problem! I have my library set up in a specific way. If an LT user goes into my library, my library will look like whatever their current default style happens to be. And if they sign out it will look like whatever LT defaults are for guests. Hmmm...
My suggestion, go to LT, if you are signed in, go into your particular library, find the style (A, B, C, D or E) that shows the comments column, and then go to my (pomonomo2003) library, and I believe my 550ish (and growing!) comments will appear if you are under the style where you found the comments column in your particular library. It also might help to sort Library by date entered so you see the most recent comments.
4. Reviews: I only review books I respect. Life is too short to do anything else. In my reviews I try to focus on the book rather than my reaction to it. Of course, none of us can jump out of ourselves so this is always an ideal to strive for. I review books that I found remarkable in some way. Agreement is not a factor. I review out of print books because I know that there are books that should not be forgotten.
5. Ratings: I stopped rating books at some point. When I joined LibraryThing you could only rate books 1, 2. 3, 4 or 5 stars. Later, half star ratings (0.5, 1.5, 2.5, ...etc. stars) were allowed. When I realized how much work would be involved to go back and adjust I stopped rating totally. Also, the lowest star count I ever gave was three. The philosophers have taught me that one should be ashamed to admit that there was anything that one failed to learn from.
On a personal note, I recently (June 7, 2015) had a heart attack. While I am stabilized, no one knows how this will turn out. However it turns out, - I enjoyed LT a great deal.
I haven't entered books in about six months, but I have recently (2/02/2016) done so. I had a little backlog.
Now, I still have hundreds (not an exaggeration) of PDF's to enter, I don't see myself ever doing that. I just want to thank everyone who has sent me links to books. Here on LT, donbuch1 has been a great help with finding me PDF's to read. Big thanks to him, and everyone else who sent links too.
Just a note for all concerned (Dec. 2016). My heart recovery hasn't been going particularly well. I am always tired and I sleep a lot. (Of course there is more.) I may need another procedure end of 2016, or (more likely) beginning of 2017. We'll see. In any case, this is why I haven't been very active lately, or even for several months now.
I have continued reading and intend to enter some more physical books here on LT. I find it easier to read physical books than either pdf's or Kindle books. Lastly, more than one person has complained that I have way too many tags. Here is a list of the tags that contain books that have done a great deal to form, inform, reform and deform me over the last 3 or 4 decades. No, I don't agree with all, or even any of them. (I am a nihilist!) But the books in these various genres / tags gave me much to think about over the years. ...That was enough.
Alfarabi and Philosophical Esotericism
Christianity and Modern Thought
Deconstruction and Seinsgeschichte
Dialectics into Ontology?
Dialectical Thought: Hegel / Marx & Beyond
Early Heideggerianism and Some Students and Readers of that Era
Gnostic Tendencies in Modernity
Hegel: Phenomenology of Spirit
Heidegger and Strauss
History: the Long View
Konservative Revolutionary Thought: Essentials
Latin Averroism and Aristotelianism
Left Pessimism (Frankfurt School)
Merleau-Ponty and Marx/ism
Modern Origins: Theory (Philosophical / Political / Theological)
Necessity / Possibility / Utility of Religion from Philosophical / Secular Viewpoints
Philosophico-Political Esotericism: Essentials
Plato: Eleatic Stranger
Radical Trotskyism and Beyond
Socio-Historical Cycle Theory
The "End of History"
Tripartite Human Nature According to Philosophy
Of course, there are other genres (some include many tags) that are very important to me, such as Ancient Philosophy, Anthropology, Christianity, Economics, Fascism, History, Marxism, Medieval Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, Phenomenology, Philosophy, and Psychoanalysis that often have tags so large that even I don't go through them. The above tags that I just mentioned are usually of a more manageable size.
GroupsAncient History, Bug Collectors, Catholic Tradition, Combiners!, Ethical Theory, Faith and Reason, Frequently Asked Questions, FYI, Girardians, History at 30,000 feet: The Big Picture —show all groups, History Fans, History: On learning from and writing history, Philosophy and Theory, Political Philosophy, Recommend Site Improvements, The Chapel of the Abyss
Favorite authorsHenry Adams, Theodor W. Adorno, Dante Alighieri, Perry Anderson, Aristotle, Augustine, Averroes, Georges Bataille, Seth Benardete, Jorge Luis Borges, Remi Brague, Norman Oliver Brown, Gilles Deleuze, Farabi, Michel Foucault, Andre Gunder Frank, Sigmund Freud, José Ortega y Gasset, Étienne Gilson, René Girard, Antonio Gramsci, Jürgen Habermas, Marvin Harris, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Martin Heidegger, Homer, Max Horkheimer, David Hume, William James, Franz Kafka, Immanuel Kant, Søren Kierkegaard, Jacob Klein, Alexandre Kojève, Laurence Lampert, Claude Lefort, George Lukács, Karl Löwith, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alasdair C. MacIntyre, Moses Maimonides, Karl Marx, H. L. Mencken, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel de Montaigne, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Orwell, Shlomo Pines, Plato, Plotinus, Paul Ricœur, Rainer Maria Rilke, Stanley Rosen, Carl Schmitt, Joseph A. Schumpeter, Reiner Schurmann, Oswald Spengler, Benedictus de Spinoza, Leo Strauss, Jacob Taubes, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Emmanuel Todd, Leon Trotsky, Ludwig Wittgenstein (Shared favorites)
Favorite bookstoresBook Garden, Strand Bookstore, The Cranbury Bookworm
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Member sinceJul 2, 2006