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Re: [xmca] Ambivalence and system

Andy and Mike

The question of "romantic science?"  and romantic philosophy would be
answered in the affirmative by Schlegel.  The reason I chose to look at
this particular scholar was his recognition that poetry and literature are
closer to philosophy's search to understand human development  than
science.  Reading Bauman's work indicates parallels and his refusal to
create a grand "systtems. Bauman consciously chose to develop "fragments"
[using various metaphors], with the intent of understanding "modernity".
He saw himself working  with a plurality of metaphors to deepen his
understanding of our current social imaginary.
Wittgenstein's turning away from grand systems and writing in "fragments"
as a conscious choice of genre also seems to share a similar orientation to

I am amazed at how similar the debates in Jena around 1800 parallel our
current debates as expressed on this list serve.  This "backward glance" to
300 years ago and the search for "coherence" [not correspondence] in Jena I
find fascinating.  I do get the sense of an ongoing conversation over the
centuries that situates the socio-cultural turn in the human sciences in a
much broader historical landscape.

I will add a little commentary on the project of the early German Romantics
and their engagement with the grand systems of German Idealism.

According to Schlegel philosophy is the striving for truth and knowledge,
which must be an objective search and must not be subjectivized by an
appeal to faith revealed as irreducibly individual.  [this is not what
often is assumed to be a Romantic position] Schlegel was NOT willing to
embrace revelation as a criterion for accepting a given claim.
To open a clearing for his own skepticism of BOTH revelation and grand
systems Schlegel asks,

"What if an externally unconditioned yet at the same time conditioned and
conditioning "Wechselerweis" were the foundation of philosophy?"

This question rejects the possibility of establishing a single absolute
foundation as the basis for our knowledge but also rejects any form of
subjectivism or sophism.  Schlegel's skeptical antifoundationalism is part
of his commitment to an objective search for truth.
Romanticism is often viewed as involving a break with reason and a break
from objective foundations or first principles.
Schlegel's stance however is to break with foundations BUT to stay with
Romanticism is often portrayed as a reaction against Enlightenment thought
and a rejection of reason. However the early German Romantics were not
rejecting the objectivity of reason for the subjectivity of faith.  They
wanted to "diversify the light of reason" but not extinguish it.  They
continued to share an underlying common goal with the Enlightenment but
were skeptical of first principles or grand systems. When they deliberately
chose to write in "fragments" it was not because they were less rigourous
than the German Idealists.  They wrote in fragments as a disciplined
reaction to grand systems.
Romanticism was antifoundationalist through and through but it was so in an
attempt to capture the inherent INCOMPLETENESS of philosophy and knowledge.
There is always EXCESS beyond all grand systems

Schlegel believed this INHERENT incompleteness [ambivalence] puts
philosophy in contact with AESTHETIC experience and poetry.[thinking of
David Kellogg's musings with this comment]

The early German Romantics took a stance that viewed epistemology as the
pursuit of  coherence which is ALWAYS limited and uncertain but not
relative.  It privleges aesthetic experience but is not "merely" aesthetic.
It is a rigorous form of philosophy that turns to poetry, literature, and
metaphor as expressing deep understanding.

This perspective seems to offer the roots of some of the themes currently
being debated within the human sciences, especially hermeneutics.


On Sat, Nov 19, 2011 at 7:51 PM, mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> Romantic science, Larry?
> :-)
> Mike
> On Nov 19, 2011, at 12:37 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> 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
> > more.
> > 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.
> >
> > Larry
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