What’s wrong with Hegel

The past must be narrated, the present cognized, the future intimated. (Schelling)

Hegelian dialectic cognizes the past.

The past is not a point in time, but an ekstases. A “reaching-out”. The past is no less “present” than the present, it is simply present in a different way (as recollected, as remembered).

The past must be narrated because this is the form of recollection.

The past cannot be cognized for the same reason that eye witnesses are unreliable. It is not some other moment in time which we see only partially, but rather a modification of the current moment in time which is available only to narration.

The limits of recollection are the limits of narrative.

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Questions for Life

A) What are we doing when we retrieve Ancient Philosophy?

B) How does the answer to A differ from what we are doing when we use common sense, everyday ready-made notions?

Provisional answer: A and B are seperated by the possesing/lacking of what we call awareness, having-one’s self, authenticity, consciousness, intentionality.

2) Freedom is the retrieve which is self conscious of itself as retrieving. The first beginning is the unconsious retrieval of the first beginning. The other beginning is only the becoming aware, the making-manifest what was already present but hidden in the first.

3) The other beginning in Hegel – just the becoming aware of edges, of permeability, of inter-penetration: absolute knowing as basic phenomenological awareness.

(But what of the dialectical presentation of the categories? Schelling: the past must be narrated! Hegel’s error as the presentation of genesis of Geist as having a universal structure – but the universal (read: most general, kathoulou) structure of the Event is only in the movement of retrieval itself, not in the historical genesis of culture.)

Thinking Geo-Engineering more broadly

I’m starting to become more and more convinced by the geo engineering prerogative. Conservation is too ecological, romantic, pastoral. The Nazi response to modern technology is to keep doing it while we privileged the pastoral. The US response has been to keep doing it while regulating it and establishing parks. Both these methods suffer the error of pretending that the unspoilt nature is somehow not human created – but in fact, we created it as well by holding it on reserve for a different sort of use. (Notice how freaked out the BC government is that the parks are “under utilized”?)

We change nature. There is no “nature” left in the romantic sense of unspoilt, terrifying beauty (why are we so quick to forget that sublimity originally was a form of terror? Because it is impossible to experience terror in the face of nature any longer, unless one’s life is actually in danger – this is now the only thing left in nature that can frighten).

Therefore, the point is to change it in the right way. We might still want to recognize that geo engineering options are unacceptably risky, but we should start thinking of Co2 reductions as themselves a form of geo-engineering. They are in fact social-engineering, but this is only distinct from geo-engineering so long as we hold up a conceptual difference between the human and the natural. If we recognize that we have made the world entirely human, we can no longer distinguish between social engineering responses to climate change, and geo-engineering solutions, at least not with a worn out concept of “wild nature”.

What’s Wrong with the cash for old cars program

The government has recently announced that they will institute a program whereby people who own old “polluting” cars can trade them for cash and transit tickets, or more cash if they spend it on zero emissions transportation.

Sounds good, but it isn’t – for two reasons. First reason – it conflagrates (and thereby increases public miscromprehension of) the distinction between pollution that causes smog and pollution that causes global warming. Cars made before 1995 had higher limits on smog producing nitrous oxides, however, since CO2 is directly proportional to fuel burnt, only more fuel-efficient cars produce less of it. And, since the fleet economy (the average economy of cars sold) has not improved since about 1990, the year 1995 is completely arbitrary in relation to CO2 production.

There is another problem – with the high price of fuel, it is understandable that there will be an increased demand for older, cheap cars which are good on gas. While this isn’t neccesarily good for smog, it is good for C02 – since it doesn’t matter how or where the fuel is burnt, it produces the same C02 in any two cars that have the same fuel economy. Thus, there will be an increased demand for old hatchbacks such as civics and Geo Metros and Fort Fiestas. However, with this program it will become impossible to purchase one of these cars for less than 1500$ – because the sellers opportunity cost is getting 1500$ plus transit passes to have the car destroyed. Considering these cars can currently be purchased for between 500 and 2000 dollars, this will be a serious market distortion, which will force people to buy newer, more expensive cars. And, since fuel economy is becoming a main selling point, they likely will have to purchase a car which is worse on fuel – for example, it is now the case that full size cars from the mid to late 90s generally cost more than economy cars from that era, simply because there is (and understandably) more demand. For example, a 1998 Ford Taurus can be picked up in good condition for 2000$, but you will pay more than that for a Focus or Honda Civic or Toyota Corrola. The lack of pre-1995 efficient cars will intensify this problem.

Congress 2008 Recap

On the whole, an excellent week. Highlights included the CPA workshop on Urban Philosophy, and the “Back to the Things Themselves” seminar and workshop with the EPTC. Lowlights included everything else to do with the CPA, and some of the Heidegger talks at EPTC.

The largest highlight though, was meeting other people who are engaged in doing phenomenology. The theme of the “things themselves” seminar was edges and betweens, and we really did delve into these phenomena. Possibly most deeply first paper, Kevin Love’s engagement with “the Startle”, which I hope will be published so that it can be available more widely. The startle is particularly of interest to me because it is a moment of vision which reveals nothing, perhaps a “dark augenblick” which folds as a couplet with anxiety as Aristotle’s two notions of nous complement each other while remaining distinct.