How to Philosophize with a Hammer and a Blue Guitar, #6–Philosophical Blue Guitars, & Conclusion.
By Robert Hanna
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. What I Mean By “Philosophy,” “Politics,” and “Rational”
3. Philosophical Quietism and Philosophical Activism
4. Seven Varieties of Philosophical Quietism
5. How and Why All Seven Varieties of Philosophical Quietism are Rationally Unjustified and Morally Unacceptable
6. Eight Varieties of Philosophical Activism
7. How and Why the First Eight Varieties of Philosophical Activism are Rationally Unjustifiable and Morally Unacceptable
8. The Ninth Variety of Philosophical Activism, the Mind-Body Politic, and How and Why It is Rationally Justifiable and Morally Acceptable
9. Philosophizing with a Blue Guitar
And this final installment contains sections 9 and 10.
But can you can also read or download a .pdf version of the complete essay HERE.
9. Philosophizing with a Blue Guitar
Let’s suppose that every version of philosophical quietism has been shown to be rationally unjustified and morally unacceptable, that the first eight versions of philosophical activism are equally rationally unjustified and morally unacceptable, and that only the mind-body politic, that is, a broadly Kantian dignitarian liberationist philosophical activism, aka heavy-duty or radical enlightenment, is rationally justified and morally acceptable.
Still, we’re only at the very beginning of the mind-body politic, because we’ll also need to spell out all the nitty-gritty details of how this kind of philosophical activism actually applies to the real world.
I’ve tried to do that in Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism,[i] parts 2 (especially sections 2.8, 2.9, and 2.10) and 3; Maiese and I have tried to do that in a slightly different way in The Mind-Body Politic,[ii] chs. 6–7; and Otto Paans and I have worked out a theory of the permissible use of force in a broadly Kantian dignitarian moral and political setting.[iii]
But there’s another special feature of the mind-body politic that I want to highlight here, namely, what I’m calling “philosophizing with a blue guitar.”
I mean that, according to the mind-body politic, there will be creative breakthroughs in the ways in which philosophy is expressed, that is, creative breakthroughs in the presentational format of philosophical works.
One of the reasons I keep using the seemingly long-winded phrase “professional academic philosophy” in order to describe, in part, what philosophical activists who are emancipatory political theorists should be emancipating ourselves/themselves from, is that professionalism and academicism are actually logically independent of one another.
On the one hand, there can be professionals who aren’t academics, e.g., medical doctors.
And on the other hand, there can be academics who aren’t professionals, e.g., the members of Plato’s original Academy, and Scholastic monks like Aquinas.
In any case, academicism in philosophy on its own, inevitably produces stylistic scholasticism, cramped obedient rule-following, and mind-manacles galore.
And in this way we are able to recognize, by sharp contrast, that the truly important philosophy of the past has always been expressed in highly original, break-out — I mean, highly original and break-out for that time, although they may have been widely imitated later — presentational formats, e.g.,
(i) Plato’s dialogues,
(ii) Aristotle’s lectures,
(iii) Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura,
(iv) Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy,
(v) Augustine’s Confessions,
(vi) Descartes’s Meditations,
(vii) Spinoza’s Ethics,
(viii) Leibniz’s Monadology,
(ix) Kant’s first Critique,
(x) Hegel’s Phenomenology,
(xi) Schopenhauer’s Parerga and Paralipomena,
(xii) Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous romantic sermonizing essay-novellas,
(xiii) Nietzsche’s aphoristic books and Zarathustra,
(xiv) Wittgenstein’s modernist prose-poem of philosophical logic, the Tractatus,
(xv) Heidegger’s Being and Time, and
(xvi) Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations.
Correspondingly, when philosophical-activism-as-the-mind-body-politic breaks out of the professional academy and into the philosophy of the future — as per another brilliant Nietzschean subtitle, this time for Beyond Good and Evil, “Prelude To A Philosophy of the Future” — then it will express its ideas in highly original, break-out formats, influenced especially by classical or modern literature of all sorts, but also other art-forms.
More precisely, we’ve been experimenting extensively with
(i) the one-sentence = one-paragraph = one-thought essay format,
(ii) creative use of images in essays,
(iii) philosophical novels,
(iv) modernist literary formats, especially modernist philosophical novels,
(v) autobiographical formats,
(vi) poetic formats,
(vii) musical formats, and more generally,
(viii) new formats for presenting original real philosophical content that are stripped of all excessively technical-formalistic or scholarly-scholastic apparatus.
And that’s what I mean by “philosophizing with a blue guitar.”
In view of what I’ve argued in sections 1–9, then philosophizing with a hammer and a blue guitar, that is, the mind-body politic, is activist philosophizing in highly original, break-out presentational formats, in order to create and sustain constructive, enabling institutions, especially amongst which is the social institution of philosophy — in sense (ii), as spelled out in section 2 above — itself.
In other words, the activist philosophical “hammer” in emancipatory political theory is not a hammer that’s a weapon
either (i) for threatening and/or smashing people, under the guise of egoistic self-assertion, as per Donner’s hammer Mjollnir, a Wagnerian symbol of war much beloved by Hitler and other Nazis,[iv]
or (ii) for threatening and/or smashing people, under the (more or less cynical, Machiavellian) guise of furthering publicly beneficial ends, as per the hammer-and-sickle symbol of Stalin’s Soviet Union.
Diametrically on the contrary, the activist philosophical “hammer” in emancipatory political theory is strictly a hammer that’s a tool
both (i) for starting to build a better world right here-and-now — a utopia now,[v] aka
a real utopia[vi] — that sufficiently respects the dignity of all people, as per the Pete Seeger and Lee Hays 1949 progressive activist folk anthem, “If I Had a Hammer,” and
also (ii) for building the philosophy of the future.
And insofar as it’s hammering away at those amazing things, it’s also an activist philosophical hammer whose pounding, drum-like rhythms are perfectly integrated with cascading rock-&-roll riffs on a philosophical electric blue guitar, that enable us to play “[a] tune beyond us, yet ourselves[,a] tune upon the blue guitar [of] things exactly as they are.”[vii]
Indeed, I’m completely serious about this: for at my suggestion, my Philosophy Without Borders comrade, the contemporary Finnish philosopher Hemmo Laiho, together with the other members of his art/alternative/ psychedelic/progressive rock band, Johannes Faustus, have created “The Aufklärung Song,” which is currently rocking the world, and can be streamed at Bandcamp HERE, at Spotify HERE, at Apple Music HERE, and at YouTube Music HERE.
[i] See R. Hanna, Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise (THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, Vol. 4) (New York: Nova Science, 2018), available online in preview, HERE.
[ii] M. Maiese and R. Hanna, The Mind-Body Politic (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), also available online in preview, HERE.
[iii] R. Hanna and O. Paans, “On the Permissible Use of Force in a Kantian Dignitarian Moral and Political Setting, Or, Seven Kantian Samurai,” Journal of Philosophical Investigations 13 (2019): 75–93, also available online at URL = <https://philosophy.tabrizu.ac.ir/article_9431.html>.
[iv] See, e.g., J.K. McShan, “Symbols in Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung,” available online at URL = <http://umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/Teutonic_Mythology/ringsym.html>.
[v] See Hanna, Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism, part 3.
[vi] See E.O. Wright, “Real Utopias,” Contexts 10 (2011): 36–42.
[vii] I’m grateful to Otto Paans and Robert Whyte for extremely helpful correspondence about the topics of this essay.
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 353
Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Thursday 28 November 2019
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