By Robert Hanna
Manacles are instruments of imprisonment, repression, and slavery.
Nevertheless, there are not only physical manacles to oppress us, but also what William Blake so aptly called our “mind-forg’d manacles”:[i] the individual and social cognitive, emotional, and ideological-political unreflective assumptions, biases, blinkers, filters, and protocols that mentally enslave us, even when–indeed, especially when, as in contemporary neoliberal democratic states–we seem to be most politically free.
Here and now, at the end of the second decade of the 21st century, our need for universal emancipation from mental slavery is every bit as burning as the need for universal emancipation from physical slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Robert Whyte is an Australian scientist, novelist, and philosophical anti-philosopher.
Manacles, the third volume of Whyte’s Undivine Comedy, is at once the ultimate, tragicomic modernist novel–the ultra-Ulysses — and also a brilliantly original treatise in philosophical parody-&-satire.
Famously, the chemist-turned-novelist C.P. Snow asserted in 1959 (i) that there are “two cultures,” scientific-&-technological on the one hand, and artistic-&-humanistic on the other, and also (ii) that they’re disastrously divided by mutual incomprehension.[ii]
But Snow’s dichotomy was itself a cultural artifact of the post-World War II, McCarthyist, neoliberal, instrumentally rational, essentially coercive, universally commodifying era; an era essentially characterized by global corporate capitalism, its valorization, and its hegemony; an era in which we still live, move, and have our being.
As a consequence, Snow was profoundly but also fruitfully wrong; on the contrary, fundamentally and at least aspirationally and potentially, there is one and only one all-inclusive and essentially non-coercive, authentic, post-corporate-capitalist, dignitarian world-culture, namely, the cosmopolitan moral community of rational humanity.
Correspondingly, the subterranean aim of Manacles is nothing less than to make it possible for us to remove our mind-forg’d manacles, exit the dichotomous “two cultures” era of global corporate capitalism, and create for ourselves the unifying world-culture–at once scientific-&-technological and also artistic-&-humanistic, and both of these sub-cultures mediated, mutually integrated, and guided by borderless philosophy–that our own innate capacities for rational humanity so passionately and urgently demand.
Starting next Monday, 20 May, Manacles will be serialized during the rest of 2019 in weekly installments on Against Professional Philosophy, and then published as a book in 2020 by h.a.r.p.o.
[i] See W. Blake, “London,” in Songs of Experience (1794), lines 5–8:
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear
[ii] C.P. Snow, The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1959), also available online at URL = <http://s-f-walker.org.uk/pubsebooks/2cultures/Rede-lecture-2-cultures.pdf>.
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 272
Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Tuesday 14 May 2019
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