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A Call for Intellectual Responsibility:
Immediate Suspension of
Western Metaphysical Jargon!
It is incumbent upon present intellectual architects with a love for all forms of life including rocks, herbs, oaks, seaweed, sea urchins and the skies; namely, upon those 'thinkers' who are to dethrone the Western intellectual architecture of the past as set into place by, inter alia, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel and Heidegger to immediately suspend Western metaphysical jargon: 'consciousness', 'being', 'subject', 'nature', 'cosmos', 'existence', 'essence', 'truth', 'reason', 'ground', 'universalism', 'materialism', you name it.
The perspectives that inform these rubrics hinge upon hierarchies, where andromorphic forms and some of their alleged qualities are inextricably portrayed as superior to those exhibited by other sacred forms —women, aboriginal peoples, plants, birds, tigers, rocks. This slant privileging the andromorphic, no wonder, proves ecocidal through and through; it shatters the difference-based egalitarianism reigning in the oikos —a space of plurality and conviviality. It further presents White Man as what he is not: an extraterrestrial hero sanctioned by God to operate above and at the expense of woman, aboriginal peoples and the rest of sacred expressions.
"Suppress the idea of nature and the whole philosophical edifice of western achievements will crumble"
—Philippe Descola, 'Constructing Natures', 1996
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WEAVING POST-ECOCIDAL CULTURES ENTAILS...
'rethinking' (transposing, to be more precise) philosophy, science and religion so that non-ecocidal both claims to knowledge and conducts are persuasively encouraged.
WEAVING POST-ECOCIDAL CULTURES RENDERS US THINK...
Post-ecocidal cultures destabilize key concepts of Western metaphysics by evincing their intrinsic ecocidal nature. This includes a large number of binary pairs which corroborate part of the list drawn up by Jacques Derrida and further complement it with hierarchizing polarities such as productivity/sustainable development, anthropocentirsm/ecocentrism, theism/atheism and nothing/something.
Yet the onto-logical and epistemo-logical quests so characteristic of the Western trajectory become no less central targets when weaving post-ecocidal cultures.
Onto-logy or the science of being(s) forces a perspective upon knowledge that leads to 'monist essentialisms', as Patrick Curry puts it; 'categorical imperators' or a 'metaphysic of unity' in Friedrich Nietszche's own characterization; 'metaphors and metonymies of Being as presence' in Jacques Derrida's own parlance; the 'idealizations' to which Arkady Plotnitsky refers in the wake of Niels Bohr's work on quantum mechanics; or positions in the frame of the cultures of transpositions developed by myself. These positions or essentialisms are often of idealist or materialist persuasion. As a result, the whole of 'existence' becomes a travesty that either takes the form of detached mental representations or sadly falls victim to molecular dissection.
At any rate, both idealism and materialism grossly eclipse embodying, disembodying and re-embodying politics. This politics is central to ecocidics, the emerging science (or, rather, in the parlance set forth here, culture) of ecocides.
To be sure, there is no concern on our part to outline how things might be. This outlook certainly bespeaks a disengaging approach busy as it is with the issuing of atemporal predicates of being. Rather, we are fully intent upon providing a panoramic schemata, full of rich detail, of the state of the Planet in light of a concrete problematic, or, rather, a conglomerate thereof that in our case orbits around the lethal practices exhibited chiefly by the Western/ized segments of the world. Far from rejoicing in the misery, our goal is empowering ourselves and taking action to overcome the plight.
This avowed expression of our, in our case, post-geno-cum-ecocidal politics and mobilization of both 'philosophy' and 'science' in the direction of this politics, may be aptly called perspectivism. Perspectivism, that is, liberates us from the ontological perspective, which is but one highly narrow direction where indeed mainstream philosophy has gone down ever since around Aristotle.
Michel Foucault and, following suit, Gianni Vattimo speak of an 'ontology of actuality' to refer to this intellectual attitude which, I, closely following Friedrich Nietzsche, rather call perspectivism. As I have argued above, in my view, the endorsement of the ontological approach would run counter the requirements of our ecocidal 'actuality' —ontology, or the quest for the eternal predicates of being, provides metaphors of the nature of 'reality' that prove disrespectful of non-andromorphic expressions of life.
The trope that consists in referring to knowledge by using the rubric 'epistemology' is, in the view of the post-ecocidal cultures of transpositions, an inaccuracy universally extended among scholars. Episteme is a highly specific and narrow manner of generating knowledge as its ideal is the conveying of abstract universals. These, in failing to attend to locally embodying, embedding and contextualizing realities, widely open the door to ecocidal practices.
Interestingly, ancient Greeks additionally considered as cognitive modes the following: phronesis or 'practical wisdom', doxa or 'opinion' and metis or 'cunning wisdom'. Yet the urge to master what was pigeonholed as physis —'nature'— conveniently inserted in a regularly ordered larger reality called kosmos allegedly pervaded with intelligibility or logos rendered episteme the apposite mode of knowledge production.
Weaving post-ecocidal cultures relies instead upon transpositional thinking. Transpositional thinking is transitive. This means that one aspect of the analysis leads to the next while keeping all facets connected so that panoramic yet rich-in-detail surveys are encouraged.
Logocentrism states that logos —the Greek term for 'speech', 'thought','law' or 'reason'— is the central principle of philosophy and language. This logos aims at an absolute point of reference, which Jacques Derrida correspondingly calls the 'transcendental signified'; for the signified is not affected by the worldly vicissitudes of the signifier. Similarly, on account of the logocentrism that pervades Western philosophy, Derrida characterizes the latter as a 'metaphysics of presence': the immobile point upon which the transcendental signified hinges evokes a perennial presence.
Upon the basis of these claims, the transpositional outlook states that the transcendental presence conveyed by logos stops the plane of immanence from fully realizing itself. Namely, whether as transcendental signified, reason that transcends both historical and cultural contingencies, or as the second person of the Trinity, all meanings of logos provide an unalterable backdrop that operates as a Deus-ex-machina against which human communication, science and human existence, respectively, are made possible.
In short, logos renders the plane of immanence immanent to a static presence, thereby debarring this plane from attaining its full potential. Contrastingly, once we endeavour to transpose presence, the immanent expanse wholly realizes itself and the regimes of engaging-constraining immanence (see Glossary) are facilitated.
WE ARE FREE TO 'THINK' AGAIN!
Once we cleanse the 'factory of knowledge production' from Western metaphysically ontological, epistemological and logocentric overtones, we may readily trumpet the possibility of 'thinking' afresh. Jaques Derrida alerts us to the fact that our eagerness to overcome metaphysics is unremittingly curtailed by the self-same vocabulary developed by this tradition. For all the relevance of this insight, we may simultaneously point to the fact that Derrida's relation to philosophy is somewhat autarkic —he thinks and speaks from within this realm and therefore appears trapped by and within it. In sharp contrast, our engagement with philosophy straightforwardly stems from a political stand that does not tolerate the ecocidal tendencies that ensue from the Western/ized ethos. It follows that, against Derrida's caveat, we may, beyond mainstream philosophical schools and authors, have resort to a plurality of intellectual traditions and cognitive 'disciplines' in order to unhinge Western metaphysics. Relevant directions in this respect may be ecofeminism, eco-Marxism, Polanyian political ecology, ethnoecology, environmental philosophy and ethics, several authors in the post-Kantian trajectory including Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Emmanuel Lévinas, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gianni Vattimo, Arkady Plotnitsky and Patrick Curry.
Since weaving post-ecocidal cultures embodies, embeds and contextualizes claims to knowledge, the enactment of sapere aude entails a wholesale disposition whereby each one of us takes responsibility for our constructions and engagements of 'reality'. This is an additional part of what transpositional 'thinking' means.
The Re-Enactment of Sapere Aude in Post-Ecocidal Cultures is a Wholly Sensual and Ethical Act
Sapere is not only a mental state but also one related to taste. In Spanish language, for instance, when someone says 'sabe a' —as it will be immediately apparent to the reader, this Spanish verb derives from sapere— they mean 'it tastes of'. When the transcendental philosopher Immanuel Kant, following a Western tradition inaugurated by the Roman poet Horace, called upon us in his 1784-terse outline of Aufklärung to engage the act of sapere aude as a distinctive trait of the Aufklärer, he exalted the unconstrained use of reason.
In sharp contrast, when weaving post-ecocidal cultures, the sensual dimensions intrinsic to the etymology of sapere are emphatically highlighted. In this light, intellectual insight or nous is seen as one of the aspects of this sensuality. That is to say, post-ecocidal cultures put an end to the exaltation of thought —nous— so common in the Western metaphysical tradition Panikkar (Zubiri, 2018: 77) while setting the latter upon a level with the remaining of the senses, namely, touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight.
Additionally, since sapere invariably involves 'other', the production of knowledge —whether philosophically, scientifically or religiously oriented— emerges as an act of avowed ethicism. This is the superb insight of the great Emmanuel Lévinas. Namely, philosophizing brings to the fore the irreducibly non-reciprocal relation of responsibility toward others. As the self-same Lévinas underscores, the ontological quest falls short of lending priority to this important remit. Instead, it carries out an annulling reduction of the Other to the Same.
This concept or position of the Same is proper to scientific knowledge where onto-logy —the science or discourse upon the eternal, anachronic, immortal, decontextualizing predicates of Being— conforms to the instrumentum movendi whereby the former is possible. In this artificial setting, experiments are conceived as repeatable and thus knowledge is, in turn, conceived as verifiable. This conception of knowledge as liable to be time and again confirmed is in sharp contrast with the art of knowing. Via Raimon Panikkar (2012: 34, 40) —who writes in relation to the experience of knowing God, for want of a better term— we can say that the art of knowing is "concrete and immediate [...] ineffable, every time unique and therefore irrepeatable", namely, not mediated by way of any instrumenta movendi.
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"It has certainly been the great experiences the ones which have given way to the diferent culture of humanity and their respective histories [...] The grand traditions generally speaking emerge out of extraordinary experiencies which are often received as revelations"
—Raimon Panikkar, Spirituality, The Path of Life [own translation from the Catalan translation, Espiritualitat, el camí de la vida, 2012: 39]