Ideas from 'Impossible Objects: interviews' by Simon Critchley [2012], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Impossible Objects: interviews' by Critchley,Simon [Politty 2012,978-0-7456-6321-1]].

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1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 2. Ancient Philosophy / b. Pre-Socratic philosophy
Philosophy really got started as the rival mode of discourse to tragedy
                        Full Idea: The pre-Socratics are interesting, but philosophy really begins in drama; it's a competitive discourse to tragedy. Which is why Plato's 'Republic' excludes the poets: they're the competition; gotta get rid of them.
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 6)
                        A reaction: That's an interesting and novel perspective. So what was the 'discourse' of tragedy saying, and why did that provoke the new rival? Was it too fatalistic?
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / d. Philosophy as puzzles
Philosophy begins in disappointment, notably in religion and politics
                        Full Idea: I claim that philosophy begins in disappointment, and there are two forms of disappointment that interest me: religious and political disappointment
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 2)
                        A reaction: You are only disappointed by reality if you expected something better. To be disappointed by the failures of religion strikes me as rather old-fashioned, which Critchley sort of admits. Given the size and tumult of modern states, politics isn't promising.
1. Philosophy / G. Scientific Philosophy / 3. Scientism
Science gives us an excessively theoretical view of life
                        Full Idea: One of the problems with the scientific worldview is that it leads human beings to have an overwhelmingly theoretical relationship to the world.
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 2)
                        A reaction: Critchley is defending phenomenology, but this also supports its cousin, existentialism. I keep meeting bright elderly men who have immersed themselves in the study of science, and they seem very remote from the humanist culture I love.
1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 2. Phenomenology
Phenomenology uncovers and redescribes the pre-theoretical layer of life
                        Full Idea: Phenomenology is a philosophical method that tries to uncover the pre-theoretical layer of human experience and redescribe it.
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 2)
                        A reaction: I would be delighted if someone could tell me what this means in practice. I have the impression of lots of talk about phenomenology, but not much doing of it. Clearly I must enquire further.
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 8. The Arts / b. Poetry
Wallace Stevens is the greatest philosophical poet of the twentieth century in English
                        Full Idea: Wallace Stevens is the greatest philosophical poet of the twentieth century in the English language - full stop - in my humble opinion.
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 6)
                        A reaction: I include this because I tend to agree, and love Stevens. Hear recordings of him reading. I once mentioned Stevens in a conversation with Ted Hughes, and he just shrugged and said Stevens 'wasn't much of a poet'. Wrong.
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 7. Art and Morality
Interesting art is always organised around ethical demands
                        Full Idea: I don't think that art can be unethical. I think that interesting art is always ethical. It is organised around ethical demands.
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 8)
                        A reaction: It is a struggle to make this fit instrumental music. Critchley likes punk rock, so he might not see the problem. How to compare Bachian, Mozart, Beethovenian and Debussyian ethics? Not impossible.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / d. Ethical theory
The problems is not justifying ethics, but motivating it. Why should a self seek its good?
                        Full Idea: The issue is not so much justification as motivation, that in virtue of which the self can be motivated to act on some conception of the good. ...How does a self bind itself to whatever it determines as its good?
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 2)
                        A reaction: That is a bold and interesting idea about the starting point for ethics. It is always a problem for Aristotle, that he can offer no motivation for the quest for virtue. Contractarians start from existing motivations, but that isn't impressive.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 3. Anarchism
The state, law, bureaucracy and capital are limitations on life, so I prefer federalist anarchism
                        Full Idea: I begin with the ontological premise that the state is a limitation on human existence. I am against the state, law, bureaucracy, and capital. I seen anarchism as the only desirable way of organising, politically. ...Its political form is federalist.
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 3)
                        A reaction: Hm. Some sympathy, but caution. All systems, even federalist anarchism are limitations on our lives, so which limitations do we prefer. The law aspires to a calm egalitarian neutrality, which seems promising to me.
Anarchism used to be libertarian (especially for sexuality), but now concerns responsibility
                        Full Idea: Anarchism in the 1960s was libertarian and organised around issues of sexual liberation. That moment has passed. People are and should be organising around responsibility.
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 3)
                        A reaction: So there are two types of anarchism, focused on freedom or on responsibility. An organisation like Greenpeace might represent the latter.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 4. Conservatism
Belief that humans are wicked leads to authoritarian politics
                        Full Idea: If you think human beings are wicked, you turn to an authoritarian conception of politics, the Hobbesian-Machiavellian-Straussian lie.
                        From: Simon Critchley (Impossible Objects: interviews [2012], 3)
                        A reaction: Right-wingers also tend to believe in free will, so they can blame and punish. Good people are more inspired by a great leader than bad people are? (Later, Critchley says authoritarians usually believe in original sin).