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Re: [xmca] Ambivalence and system

Yes, this is an interesting question, Larry. I have never particular seen it as one between Romanticism and Classical German Philosophy, but that is a reasonable view. In terms of 18/19th century German philosophy, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer and above all Hegel were systematic philosophers. Herder and other Romantics were "unsystematic." Dilthey, Nietzsche, Marx were among those who argued against the merits of system-building. System building remains a tradition in German philosophy; creating a system is almost a condition for achieving the status of "professor." But "system" cannot be what it was 200 years ago. Axel Honneth maintains the good German tradition by making the concept of "Recognition" into a meaningless "grand signifier," for example. Your comments about the need for systematicity on one hand and pluralism on the other I completely agree with. As I see it, one must have (if you want to make a contribution) clear concepts, or at least one clear concept, a clear lens which provides one useful view on the world. There is no need to go from there to reduce everything to a nail to fit your hammer. Rather, one recognises that other people and other concepts provide other legitimate and valuable views on the world, reflective of their projects, views which cannot be reduced to other concepts such as your own. But pluralism is not eclecticism or muddle. So I am a bit of a stickler for clarity. Pluralism is great.


Larry Purss wrote:
I wanted to reflect a little more on the centrality of ambivalence as
inherent in all systemic conceptual worldviews by a backward glance to the
tension between early German Romanticism and German Idealism.
This is not an arena I know well but Andy's writings have clled me tlearn
I am reading a book on Schlegel's contribution to the ideas circulating in
Jena at the beginning of the 1800's. A time which has been referred to as
Early German Romanticism.
Schlegel wrote this comment when reflecting on thinking systematically.

"It is equally fatal for the spirit to have a system and to have none. It
will simply have to decide to combine the two"
This comment seems to share the same sensibility as Zygmunt Bauman's notion
of "ambivalence" as ontological to all system constructions.  "liquid
modernity" as diachronic versus more structural notions of solid modernity
is a case in point.

Every philosopher must have a system, for to make claims and construct
arguments, we must assume some system, FOR WE NEED LIMITS, but this must be
done with the recognition that ANY particular system is a PART of a
PLURALITY of other systems.  This is the recognition that one must
simultaneouslly be WITHIN a system and be without it.

This way of thinking, which can be framed as "romantic" [no final system]
is also hermeneutic.
Just further reflections on the ontological necessity of ambivalence at the
heart of our projects.

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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857

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