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comment by Curt
Curt  ·  1774 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: In Praise of Failure

I appreciate your point -- but let me restate mine and add another.

1) Marx represented the last serious challenge to the capitalist's grand narrative that I am aware of. So when people like Judt dismiss Marx, they are creating an intellectual vacuum that could only intensify the excesses of "the market" -- as it seems to in fact have done.

2)You and I both, I suspect, would be more than happy -- even eager! -- to consider new ideas that might fill that dialectical vacuum. But where are they? Society as a whole can hardly be expected to recognize, much less embrace, something that isn't there to begin with.

Lacking new ideas for a way forward, we regress to old ones and go backward. Some to Islam. Some to the winner-take-all capitalism of the robber barons and a sort of neo-feudalism. Most to simple despair and the perception that they are fated to be the losers in a zero-sum game.

We seem to need to return to ancient fundamentals. To questions like "who should get the best flutes" taken up with an attitude that the correct answer almost certainly isn't "whoever can pay the highest price for them."




NotPhil  ·  1773 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Society as a whole can hardly be expected to recognize, much less embrace, something that isn't there to begin with.

There are plenty of alternatives that are "here," from the legacy of the Romantic movement to the memories of the counter-cultural movement to the lessons history has taught us about the many different ways we used to be able to live.

But, people in general will not see these as alternatives until they believe an alternative to our society would be more beneficial than a tweak to our society. They'll just see the alternatives as weird historical anomalies, or eccentric flights of fantasy, which have no relevance to them.

    questions like "who should get the best flutes" [should be] taken up with an attitude that the correct answer almost certainly isn't "whoever can pay the highest price for them."

Good luck having a society-wide philosophical debate in a society that openly mocks philosophy (what, are you going to open up a philosophy store?).

Until the humanities have been restored, we're not going to have an intelligent debate about anything. We'll just have engineers telling us that 3D printers will fix everything, just like we had financiers telling us micro-loans would fix everything, and programmers telling us the World-Wide Web would fix everything, and economists telling us that trickle down from concentrations of wealth would fix everything, and electrical engineers telling us personal computers would fix everything, and mechanical engineers telling us that nuclear power would fix everything, and so on. We live in a society that doesn't understand societies, let alone people. Nothing will be fixed until that is changed.

Curt  ·  1772 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Engineers and scientists aren't telling you their work will "fix" everything. They're telling you they will CHANGE everything. Unlike "fix", the word "change" is less charged with a value claim.

The notion that the old grand narratives (like that of the Romantic movement) offer answers that are "here" is true -- but they're answers that have been already tried and found wanting. What seems to me to be missing are NEW answers that haven't disappointed us YET.

I think there's a cause for optimism. That philosophy store just might succeed one day. In the meantime, we each have to do what we can, like monks in an Irish monastery, to keep the candles lit.

NotPhil  ·  1768 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    What seems to me to be missing are NEW answers that haven't disappointed us YET.

An old idea will take a new form when it's transplanted into the here and now. I really don't think the problem is that we don't have enough answers. The problem is that we can't remember what questions we should be asking.