Sunday evening I was in the pub with my mates and it was another example of that Monty Python sketch - "Hello, I've come for an argument." "No you haven't." "Yes I have - oh very good." "No it isn't." "Oh yes it is. Hang on, this isn't an argument, it's just contradiction." "No it isn't."
My friends just like to have an argument, no matter what I say. Afterwards one said, "Will this be in your blog?" I said, "No, but will be a few words in my diary." As I said to the other in his shop this morning, I've changed my mind. So here it is, also in the blog.
I was telling them of thrashing about with Ps and Bs trying to remember a core postmodernist philosopher, and I went to my library shelves and it was Jacques Derrida. So what is postmodernist and I said it is a non-foundationalist philosopher, a poststructuralist.
Ah it's just jargon. No it is not just jargon. It's short hand. Asked how to be a philosopher I said you learn the language and what it is trying to get at, and what it is trying to get at is understand the epistemology of things, what is the meaning of meaning, and I referred to the linguistic turn which Derrida represented.
Now this is in a pub, and I'm drinking lime and lemonade, and my friends are on the stronger stuff. A question was, who are philosophers and who are not. I said well Jesus and Lenin were not philosophers, but Hegel and Marx were. One knew Marx borrowed from Hegel - yes, he did, but Hegel was a philosopher of spirit, I said, and Marx of effectively technological foundationalism. More jargon. For Hegel, thesis led to anti-thesis and then synthesis, whereas for Marx a paticular level of development and social organisation led to opposition and that producing a new stage [though hardly a synthesis, more a replacement]. Socialism (rather, communism) was a technological expectation of plenty, or no shortage of resources.
They tried to claim that socialism was natural, and I mentioned the "religious communists" who went to America and were authoritarian amongst themselves; they cited native Red Indians and not just hunter gatherers where resources were plentiful and followed. They said these groups had chiefs who listened to meetings. But I said that as soon as people settle, issues of boundaries appear and thus property. Not in their case (but no evidence offered). As for socialism being "natural", I said just look at greedy children. I said that if children have to be told not to be greedy (which they conceded) then it is not natural. They just went on insisting it was, but then that's pub talk. No mention of the severe sanctions the native Indians used either amongst themselves or to the unwelcome visitor.
So, here we are: I've blogged on this part of the pub talk as well as put an entry in my diary.
The core issue for the mutual conversations - In the course of yesterday’s Westminster Faith Debate on Diversity at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, an idea crystalized for me. It i...