Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reconcilling epistemes

It is best to begin this blog by outlining some of my intellectual absorption and obsession. I have to admit that I came from a highly eclectic background; to many, I epitomize the very personification of the dilletantte in this age of professional specialization. Yet, I want to argue that it is this very unstructured and unformal nature of my thoughts and personality, one that is at once ambitious and idealistic in its intellectual project. But unlike a blog which was more haphazard, in this blog, I intend to explore ideas which I will follow through in the form of academic papers, semi-intellectual (but more researched articles which I may eventually elsewhere), fictional works and finally, culminating in a dissertation project. I already have a different blog by which I look at my more random thoughts that I like to communicate to the world, http://scandalousthoughts.wordpress.com/, that actually needs more regular updates, and which I will begin updating with some thoughts I have accumulated through my experiences this summer, including my travels and summer school experiences.

Over here, I will deal with the content of certain seminars, workshops and even ideas I've been thinking through over the course of attending two summer schools, rather than with the politics of the intellectual work.

Between 5 - 11 July, I've taken a 5-day seminar on the topic of memory, trauma and mediation. I will write more about that later. For now, I want to refer to mediation as it is the method by which I can phenomenologically think through what it means to have/possess/understand knowledge, and if that knowledge of 'knowledge' can lead us through thinking about the still somewhat circular 'blackbox' aspect of consciousness. The classes I am taking in Vienna now about logical positivism (though they are more of arguments about their overall social implications and directions) , and the discussion I have had with Carnapian students got me thinking as to whether there is virtue to setting distinctions between theories and frameworks (even if this distinction may only be a 'lame' attempt at giving certainty to something which is impossible to ascertain). And then, there is this distinction between logic and that which is verifiable (empirical, mathematical, maybe I am not getting it all right here). But I do wonder, in setting distinctions, definitions and stringent models, we do not run the risk of being reductive in a manner that may end up whittling out other possibilities/worlds. But then, background knowledge becomes highly important towards the end. The problem is, what is this background knowledge, and how much of it is even meaningful?

I have set myself the task of reading Carnap and the logical positivists/empiricists, not because I have become a convert to their project, but because the only way I feel I can advance my project of blackbox phenomenology project is by doing a rather exhaustive study of certain history of philosophy (and it remains my task now to figure out what is relevant or not to my study). This whole notion of scientific philosophy seems a rather hazardous enterprise (*note: historians of philosophy may disagree with me but I do feel that the naturalizing philosophy project already has its inchoate roots among the latter logical positivists) in having philosophy approximating science (and the 'scientific method') in the developments of axioms, theorems and causalities. But then, there is no 'objective' or 'standard 'view' of the scientific method. The questionable hierarchical model of laws, hypotheses, theories, models, experiments and observations are merely ways of trying to 'differentiate' so-called scientific practices from the humanities (or arts). Yet, scholars from many fields outside the natural sciences have always been on a look out for a more 'scientific' methodology to give credence, credibility and technical rigour to their field. In the work that I do, the question that always remains with me is, what does it mean to be scientific, what IS really scientific methodology. In the questions I ask, am I a humanist, artist, social scientist or maybe even natural scientist (minus the fancy jargons). But I do know that the main thrust of my project is to reconcile epistemes, or supposed inconsistencies in epistemologies. Some of my main tasks, and perhaps these tasks may be proven impossible along the way is

1. mapping the causality of consciousness (this I will discuss in the next few postings, in relation as well to some of the ideas that have occured to me over the summer)

2. mapping consciousness in terms of the originary story of knowledge

3. understanding consciousness as an originary tale of blackbox phenomenology

4. understanding the evolution of the history of consciousness in terms of epistemic trauma, dominance, suppression, rejection, violation and destruction.

I have decided to use this space to post here some discussions of my various intellectual projects, maybe to elicit some feedbacks along the way. I actually have a few projects which I am interested in pursuing, and some of my rationale for each will all be posted here, but it will take awhile before I can see how they can all figure into a coherent project, or would I have to prioritize them according to my final goal of the dissertation project.

I will also use this space to look into my reading goals in preparation for my preliminary exams, that will also be useful in helping me achieve the tasks (I call them tasks as oppose to objectives) above (and this will form the basis of my research field, though there is likely to be overlap with my teaching field)

This will suffice, for the moment, as a rather meandering introduction to my new critical blog

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