Sunday, June 17, 2007

Is Derrida Construct Aware?

A comment I left on a thread by Edward Berge on Open Integral. Berge quotes from Gary Hampson's new piece in Integral Review. Gary argues that Derrida is construct aware using Suzanne Cook Greuter's developmental self-identity scheme.

That would put Derrida roughly altitude wise (if Hampson is right) in the turquoise to indigo levels not the green postmodernist wave Wilber for example normally places Derrida within. It's an interesting piece--other fronts covered than just the Derrida one--but overall I think the Derrida aspect of the thesis is wrong.

I've received negative marks in some quarters for saying there are positive elements (lasting truth elements) to Derrida. More than just "questioning assumptions". That he has a detailed injunction that exposes evidence otherwise un-noticed. But it is not post-green in nature. It is certainly not, in my view, construct aware.

You can read SCG's own take on construct aware and her own levels here. See especially the articles titled: Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace and A Detailed Description of Action Logics.

Here's my comment to Edward (edit note I misspelled Gary's last name as Hampton in the original comments. It is actually Hampson. Mea culpa. It is corrected in my copy and paste here):

Edward,

Thanks for the link. I read the article. It had some good points. But I think on the argument about Derrida Gary Hampson is wrong.

I think the problem stems from this idea that green is relativist. And relativist is taken to mean that the person can not make any judgments or believes in no better/worse. No one can actually do that. There is plenty of vertigo in postmodernism and a difficulty in some to make clear distinctions, but eventually pushed people come down on a side.

Hampson says that Derrida is no relativist therefore he’s not green. He’s right he’s not total relativist (who is) but wrong that he is post-relativist. The issue is post postmodern not post-relativist. i.e. He needs a cross-paradigmatic systematic view which I do not find in Derrida. And I’ve read a lot Jacques.

Because green means (in the relativist or so-called deconstructive phase) an overturning of the previous hierarchies to install new hierarchies. The hierarchy of the underside. Not the loss of hierarchy altogether. I see Derrida much more in light of say Levinas in this sense.

But I don’t see it as integral/second-tier (much less construct-aware) because it is still held to the same basic winner take all view. It’s still one hierarchy over another, just whose on top and bottom is reversed. It doesn’t question the co-arising of the terms and the way in which (construct-aware) such hierarchies are themselves products of a limited injunction, a function of the limitation of the worldsapce within which they arise.

For example in Glas, Derrida famously argues that Hegel’s insane sister precedes her rationalist brother. Without sister then no brother. Without feminine then no masculine. And without craziness no rationality, implying that perhaps Hegel himself with his uber architecture of the mind was the crazy one.

Or his piece with Habermas on 9/11 where he talks about how everyone else views the event through the lens of a changed post 9/11, especially post Cold War World. He argues that its actually the return of the absent (over present): the mujihadeen trained by the Americans in Afghanistan versus the Soviets. It’s the Cold War coming back for him.

Again reverse the traditional hierarchy and make a new hierarchy.

I think Derrida is actually quite sharp, in fact even within that level a genius. But he is not construct aware.

17 Comments:

At 10:03 AM, Blogger MD said...

More than just "questioning assumptions". That he has a detailed injunction that exposes evidence otherwise un-noticed.

Right, because questioning assumptions does not in any way whatsoever lead to discovering things previously unnoticed. Not at all. Ever.

 
At 9:07 PM, Blogger Juma said...

md,
that's all you have to say about a post on one of your primary hobby- horses?

 
At 10:41 PM, Anonymous md said...

I'll have more to say on my blog. Chris's dogs are so enmeshed in the Derrida race, in my opinion, that for the purposes of discussion with him, experience suggests keeping comments short whenever possible. I've long argued that Derrida gets heaps of undeserved credit, and my comment above renews that objection.

md

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

fellas,

internet is out at my house and i don't have any time to answer now. hopefully get it fixed in a day or two. i'll resopnd then. peace.

cj

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

at a public library, don't have a whole mess of time.

the "more" in question was more specific. 'questioning assumptions' strikes me as too vague. though of course you're right that questioning assumptions does lead to new discoveries. i wasn't implying that "q-a" doesn't led to new discoveries. that was kinda out of left field i thought, but anyway there it is.

We've been down this road before I fear. As you know, I'm not a fan of this things because neither of us is going to change views.

Anywho, the more specific the reference to the injunction was this three step process. Let's apply to philosophy in this case, which I know better than say art.

1.Read major works of the established canon--in a structuralist fashion.
2. Notice that certain hierarchies, values dominate. Masculine over feminine; spoken word over written grammar (i think his most important contribution), etc.
3.Then re-read the text subverting the hierarchy. The feminine is necessary for the masculine. Plato's Dialogues actually come to us in written form.

No one ever gets a new idea that has no forerunners whatsoever. Derrida is no different. I still think it makes sense to say that in many cases, one person brought something new that can not be reduced simply to the sum total of previous influences. It might be a very limited something, and that I maintain is the case with Derrida.

Now, the blog in question is actually highly critical of Derrida and highly critical of a certain read of him. That I think gives him way too much credit.

Yes it does require to read a text in a structuralist way. That's why it's limited. Because I don't say people should read only in a structuralist way. And as you rightly point out, doing so takes one away from the text for the moment.

Moreover, Derrida then goes and makes the same mistake in the reverse direction. Over-valuing grammar over dialogue. Whereas if we hold both in our minds, we can see that both arise together. Both necessitate each other.

There will never be dialogue without grammar and the reverse. I'm reading Derrida very differently than most others.

I still think something can be learned, just don't take it as the final reading. And you will not get out of the text what can be received from an inside or hermeneutical reading. Just as the reverse is the case--you can learn things via structuralism you can't learn via phenomenology.

My dog has never been Derrida. That you think so shows (I maintain) a basic misunderstanding on your part.

My dog isn't even worldviews or pre/modern/postm. rubrics.

My dog is true but partial.

And that dog as it were barks the way he does because of the view of the universe I maintain.

A universe that can be trusted in a way, that these things arise limited and problematic in many ways, but not complete mistakes.

A Kosmos that is not already fashioned, that is growing and learning.

That's my "abduction" to again use Peirce's terminology. Yours is different. Your Kosmos is one in which 100% error can arise and does occur.

That affects deeply the response.

Whatever the abduction in question, deductions necessarily flow. Abductions recall come from our initial inductive scan of the world, life experience and then we make this abduction--this hunch about things.

Deductions follow necessarily from the abduction.

Like true but partial is the deduction of the abdcuted view of the Kosmos I hold. Hence the specific case of Derrida I go for a true but partial.

When I say we aren't changing our views, I mean at the level of abduction. Which is a deeply emotional choice, a faith, a hunch the way it all is.

That's why arguing on the level of deductions and even inductions I think doesn't really go anywhere.

peace.

chris

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger MD said...

Chris,

Absent actual demonstration of your little 3-step Derrida dance, it really is a flight of fancy, isn't it. Have fun with that, and figuring out your utility-free constructs. I don't stipulate, btw, to any of your conclusions about how I think. About what my "kosmos" is, or any of that yadda you conveniently trot out as means of evasion. I am not responding to them because proving a negative requires oodles more energy than I possess.

md

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger MD said...

I also might add your sacred cow of "true but partial" only applies to opinions, and to knowledge whatsoever. 2+2=4 is not partial anything; it's the whole story. 2+2=5 is 100% wrong, unpartially.

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger MD said...

I meant"...NOT to knowledge, whatsoever...."

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

MD,

Sure if you are going to be a materialist and define knowledge as only objective facts.

Everything else being opinion.

Not a great position I imagine for an artist to hold.

"1+1 isn't 2, 1+1 is 1"--Pete Townsend, The Who

Or 1 mother + 1 father=3 (mom, dad, baby).

Wrong? Opinion? Subjective truth?

One point is that my so-called sacred cow is that math is true (but itself partial). Which explains the construction of a Kosmic Math. It works on more levels than one.

Not that this will convince but of course it is not a sacred cow for me--it is an important point for one of the values I'm promoting through my writing.

When I write about the Authentic Self and what I call violet/3rd tier, then I'm dealing with a different order where true but partial is itself objectified.

 
At 1:22 PM, Blogger MD said...

Sure if you are going to be a materialist and define knowledge as only objective facts.

Everything else being opinion.


That's lame, Chris. A mathematical equation is materialist? Even if it is, your statement doesn't disprove any of my point. But of course, this mathematical equation is hardly materialist. That's a new one (to me, anyway).

That equation is a specific example of knowledge -- I never claimed it was knowledge in its entirety. You mutilate it in order to make your point. Can't do that and be in good faith.

Notice, too, your sleight of hand (conscious or unconscious, I have no idea nor do I care) in transforming in your response a tangible example of a mathematical equation -- 2+2=4 -- into representative of all math -- when you say, "math is true (but itself partial)." Who was talking about "math" in toto? I'm on the ground, you think you are 50,000 ft off the ground, or whatever Wilber's airy figure is. Stay on the ground, I say.

I offered a concrete example, nothing more nothing less -- that is itself not partial whatsoever. To puncture the belief (your word) that everything is true but partial (which I don't agree with). Because everything is not true but partial. (which is a different matter than the idea of contingency, I'll note).

Socrates' distinction between opinion and knowledge demonstrates how "true but partial" applies perhaps to opinion, but not to knowledge. If you ask someone for directions how to reach a destination, that person will either have an opinion about how to get there (which may be a good opinion or a bad opinion) or they will truly know how to get there. In the latter case, there is nothing "true but partial" about it -- this knowledge just is what it is. And it is obviously to be valued higher than opinion, no matter how good. It follows for that reason, that we can refer to even good opinion as "true but partial"; because it is not knowledge.

With regard to your statement, "When I write about the Authentic Self and what I call violet/3rd tier, then I'm dealing with a different order where true but partial is itself objectified." I would suggest you are guessing, which means you are concocting conjecture, which may be interesting or not, but certainly falls into the realm of opinion.

Thus would be true but partial....so, in a sense, you are limiting the weight of your writing right off the bat. Because it won't be knowledge. Can't be, no matter who attempted to write it. This entire Wilberian field you consider yourself a part of is rife with conjecture/opinion, especially at its nexus. Sometimes literally making it up. To suit purposes of pure rhetoric and rhetoric alone.

but i digress,
md

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

Re: mathematics and materialism...

It's about the metaphysics of materialism. To the degree that the math in question or any math for that matter that deals with objects (2 + 2 of what?) that then have a final right or wrong 100% answer it is assuming a material only definition of truth. The only place where such right/wrongs are finally made.

That materialists need math to establish the ground rules for science and objective truth AND that math exists only in the minds of mathematicians ("pure math")only points out the basic flaw in materialism not in my comment.

Your analogy of asking directions is a dead give away. There is in the material world mind you a way to get one place or the other. And sure a person can have an opinion on that or not or whatever.

But what is the road to illumination? In Indian tradition raja yoga is called the "royal road" or the "royal path" but clearly not to a physical destination.

In other words, is all knowledge simply questions of the outer material world? This is why the math ties in. Because it is the grounding of rational logic and the scientific method and is assuming a material-only metaphysics.

Just as you are in the previous note. That's why you were smart to stay away from my point about the metaphors of family and love regarding numbers.

Is there knowledge (or I would prefer truth) in the subjective realms, in the humanities or art?

If so, how is it established? How is it recognized? Who has the authority to make such a proclamation?

This is why your knowledge versus opinion ploy is a non-starter. I'm talking about objective versus subjective truth.

I'm not mutilating math by asking about its context. I am not in bad faith. Or 50,000 feet or whatever.

That's why I maintain our argument, minus all these red herrings, is the method (and the assumptions that underlie those methods) for establishing knowledge/truth in the non-scientific realms.

Every time I bring up one such method you have a habit of just labeling them "opinions" and then give analogies from the exterior world about what is knowledge. Or say math secretly prejudicing that view.

I'm saying as an artist as one who has written so much on art, education, and the humanities this is not a smart tactic for you to take. It undercuts whether you realize it or not the other goods you labor for.

Plus there's no real argument as to why those are other methods I've outlined (Wilber's nonexclusion, enactment, enfoldment; Derrida's; structuralism) are not methods but opinions. I'd say it's mostly just your opinion that it is so. In which case, following your wise counsel I'm not particularly interested your opinions.

So far as I can tell in the humanities the method/discipline you promote is the one outlined under the rubric of the Great Conversation, which you obviously have written a great deal about.

I see mine not as opposed to that (in fact including elements thereof) but as not circumscribed to it either. Not the time to rehash the arguments pro/con but you know that I think there are deficiencies in the G-C discipline. Not so much deficiencies as inherent limitations that needed to be supplemented by other forms of praxis.

You will disagree. Fine. What I'm interested in is methods, practices, ways of seeing. Ways of discovering truths particularly in the world of meaning, the inner subjective worlds. You never seem to recognize this. [One of the things I'm interested in anyway].

The discussion of methods is where I think this dialogue should be between us because that is where the disagreement actually exists. Again in my view.

That and what if any truth can be established in the subjective realms, how, and by whom? That's experientialism (inner empiricism), injunction/praxis, and community of interpretation, three strands of a method not an opinion--in my opinion.

Though we end up often in different places because we take different routes (and perhaps have different starting points), I think generally we are both poking around the same set of questions.

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger MD said...

It's about the metaphysics of materialism. To the degree that the math in question or any math for that matter that deals with objects (2 + 2 of what?) that then have a final right or wrong 100% answer it is assuming a material only definition of truth. The only place where such right/wrongs are finally made.

Chris, step back to the real world. That 2+2=4 is a kind of knowledge, and there's nothing you can demonstrate that is partial about it.

Paragraphs two, three, four is jibberish and I have no response.

Is there knowledge (or I would prefer truth) in the subjective realms, in the humanities or art?

Sure -- knowledge of the works of Plato, of Bach, of the ways of tonal productions (in music) or any other such techne in the other disciplines. There are also opinions galore on all that.

If so, how is it established? How is it recognized? Who has the authority to make such a proclamation?

That last question makes no sense. Knowledge is established by experience with, in this case, the works of the Humanities. This is 101 stuff, Chris.

This is why your knowledge versus opinion ploy is a non-starter. I'm talking about objective versus subjective truth.

Oh, really. Is that what you are talking about now. I can't keep up. Amazing that you can't acknowledge that everything is not "true but partial".

In other words, is all knowledge simply questions of the outer material world?

That is a good question. It also is largely irrelevant to my point that everything is not true but partial. Admit it, please, to save yourself some dignity. Else if you ask me you are a lost cause.

I didn't "stay away". I ignored because it is stupid. But let me respond:

"1+1 isn't 2, 1+1 is 1"--Pete Townsend, The Who

Or 1 mother + 1 father=3 (mom, dad, baby).

Wrong? Opinion? Subjective truth?


Re: Townsend, so what. Re: family, who cares. My basic point about the non-universality of "true but partial" is untouched.

This is why your knowledge versus opinion ploy is a non-starter. I'm talking about objective versus subjective truth.

Calling knowledge "truth" ignores the import of knowledge. Basically it is a relativist, atomist position dressed up and masked. And knowledge/opinion is hardly my ploy when, as I cited, it comes from Plato. Brush it under the rug all you like, Dierkes. It is still there.

Finally:

In other words, is all knowledge simply questions of the outer material world?

Pick an equation with irrational, negative numbers if you like. So, to answer your question, no.

stop being evasive,
md

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger MD said...

p.s.:

Plus there's no real argument as to why those are other methods I've outlined (Wilber's nonexclusion, enactment, enfoldment; Derrida's; structuralism) are not methods but opinions.

Wow. That's your biggest sleight of hand, yet. Completely ignoring the substance of what I've written on Derrida -- I haven't written about any of the others, you must be confused, which wouldn't surprise me -- and saying "no arguments". I guess I'll think about it, but you may have just gone over the line of complete lunacy, not to mention disrespectful ignorance.

Well done. I have a high tolerance. But not for that hack comment. It does demonstrate how poorly you actually read my comments. How unclosely, to be more precise.

md

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

It's not the knowledge (of math in this case) that is partial. It's what it covers in terms of the "R" word (reality) that is partial.

Talk about 101.

I'm not asking about the knowledge of the works of Plato but whether we can say Plato was right in any sense. Philosophically, spiritually, morally.

That's what I mean by truth, not relativism and atomism.

e.g. Is there really a Transcendent Form of the Good? Are we all actually living like prisoners in a cave? Is there concretely a path out of the Cave and into the Light?

How do we decide the answer to those questions?

Again if someone has knowledge about the works of the Humanities how do they decide upon those works themselves. Are they right? What does "right" mean in that area?

A prosaic example. You read Bernard Lewis on the West and Islam and then Edward Said. Which one is right? Both? Neither? How do you decide?

We would agree they take nearly polar opposite views on the same subject matter.

So it is not difficult to gain the knowledge of their views through the experience of reading their writing. Though many disagree with both of them in their interpretations, it is not hard to get a good sense of what each indeed said and believed.

To me that still doesn't answer the question of truth relative to their writings and the subject they describe.

And who said I can't acknowledge that everything isn't true but partial? Obviously you're not reading my writing very closely then either if you think that nonsense.

True but partial is only true from a certain pov. There are levels below and above that one. In all of those, true but partial isn't the case.

You won't accept that construction, but don't say I can't admit the limitation. "True but partial" is itself true but partial.

And the comment on Derrida is no sleight of hand. Again I was discussing the method. What is your argument that my reconstruction of the method of deconstruction is invalid? What is your proof for that argument? Which of Derrida's books have you read to base this claim on?

 
At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote a couple comments up on this thread:

My dog is true but partial.

And that dog as it were barks the way he does because of the view of the universe I maintain.

A universe that can be trusted in a way, that these things arise limited and problematic in many ways, but not complete mistakes.


In other words, your view of the universe, from this passage, amounts to "true but partial". Simple reading of your views on this thread and many others demonstrate that "true but partial" is a very important truism for you, one that you base your "dog" on.

Hearing you say that, now, after much work to get it out of you, there are things to which "true but partial" does not apply, is some progress.

It's not the knowledge (of math in this case) that is partial. It's what it covers in terms of the "R" word (reality) that is partial.

2+2=4 is partial of nothing. It aims to be nothing more than 2+2=4. I give an example; you think "reality". Very strange. I seriously don't get it. Why not bring up oranges; it would be the same off the wall non sequitor.

You asked whether in the humanities, is there knowledge. I say, clearly there is. Now you change the goalposts. Typical.

Was Plato right? Ask your own common sense, since any precept is just at attempt to accord with good sense.

How do we decide the answer to those questions?

Read the texts; talk about it with others; measure against one's good sense; repeat.

Again if someone has knowledge about the works of the Humanities how do they decide upon those works themselves.

Read and decide for one's self. Use others as a guide, their recommendations, if one prefers. Pretty simple stuff.

To me that still doesn't answer the question of truth relative to their writings and the subject they describe.

Truth applies to opinions, only. Knowledge is a different matter (though it overlaps with good opinions). True opinions are unearthed provisionally by research.

Again I was discussing the method. What is your argument that my reconstruction of the method of deconstruction is invalid? What is your proof for that argument? Which of Derrida's books have you read to base this claim on?

My argument, as expressed in the long essay published at POLYSEMY, is that the method, regardless of whether it is faithful or not to what Derrida wrote, is 1) impossible (to read the "entire canon") 2, to objectify the canon is to miss the point of its works entirely, and 3) the simple act of questioning assumptions one has of the works -- writ large, in French, in dramatically boring language, and in the most windbag, poseur fashion possible.

I assume your interpretation of Derrida is close enough. What I instead object to is the effect doing so has on the insights and opportunities for mental, spiritual and moral rigor embedded in genuine literary and non-literary works of the Humanities (as I group them).

And it is clear, from your lack of acquaintance with the classical distinctions of opinion and knowledge (you instead disparage or rename these) that you have not knowledge of them, but rather opinion (and a bad one, at that).

md

 
At 8:47 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

good and common sense? and who defines that?

on derrida--once more:

1. reading the canon in that case means the philosophical Western canon, which of course not every word of which will be read but one can read a substantial majority and find the patterns.

2. i agree that it is reading it at in a different way than that under which it was created. So what? That's not an argument against finding new meanings and new vantage points that are not discovered otherwise.

3. that "something else" is more than questioning assumptions. Something more (specific) and therefore something less (limited in scope).

As a result, I don't buy your criticism.

But I've also said is that the practice you outline (rigor in literary and non-literary Humanities) also needs to be taken into account.

 
At 6:32 AM, Anonymous md said...

good and common sense? and who defines that?

People.

1. reading the canon in that case means the philosophical Western canon, which of course not every word of which will be read but one can read a substantial majority and find the patterns.

Firstly, there is no good reason to separate the Humanities in such a way that there is a separate "philosophical canon". One must only read King Lear and Hobbes concurrently to see that both of dealing with matter of a piece. King Lear is as philosophical about a society that doesn't share a common awe as Hobbes.

Secondly, typical that amidst great literature, you counsel "find the patterns". Reading literature isn't detective work, isn't the work of a scientific researcher, or someone with a microscope. It isn't about finding patterns. Reading literature is finding yourself in the work, finding resonances with the characters, the ideas they embody or forward (I argue, even the detestable ones) -- another way of saying measuring the work against your good sense, and against the common sense of people you talk about the work.

2. i agree that it is reading it at in a different way than that under which it was created. So what? That's not an argument against finding new meanings and new vantage points that are not discovered otherwise.

It is not reading, at all, is my point. It is searching like a detective or scientist who already has a conclusion and looks for evidence to support it. Mind you, this is what a BAD detective or scientist does. Good ones seek to get beyond such preconceived notions. Instead of the work of literature being central, your theory about the literature is. And that's wrong because it leads to narrow readings, precisely not the point of reading literature (which is to expand horizons).

3. that "something else" is more than questioning assumptions. Something more (specific) and therefore something less (limited in scope).

Hardly "more". If anything, it is a kind of question assumptions; in other words, part of the larger category of questioning assumptions. The kind that bad scientists or detectives do when they aren't actually reading, but rather following a predetermined sequence that operates unchanged no matter what work of literature you want to grind up in its mill.

md

 

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