21 January 2008
Sameness: e pluribus unum. From the many, one. This is the project of the Enlightenment. Reason —> Empire.
It seems, in the battle between faith and reason, reason has led us into the same sort of political cul de sac that faith led us into earlier; there is a tendency in the political arts toward totalitarianism, whether it is faith-based or rational.
Into this breach steps a French philosopher named Jacques Derrida. He wrote a virtually unreadable paper called "Differance". With an 'a'. The gist of it is a challenge to these constructivist programs.
Others, of course, picked up the flaws in this totalizing tendency of Western thought beginning with Gödel's "On Formally Undecidable Propositions" and picking up with Wittgenstein's own self-critical Philosophical Investigations. How you get from a critique of the completeness of axiom-driven mathematical systems (Gödel) and a critique of linguistic philosophy in terms of "language games" and "forms of life" (Wittgenstein) to the fractiousness of deconstructionism and from there to any kind of statement about Western wisdom and contemporary politics is beyond the scope of a simple blog post.
The point is these are the origins of what is often called 'post-modernism' in academics: that is, the breakdown of totalizing systems and the emphasis on interest-based critiques such as Marxism (classism), feminism, racialism, queer theory, Freudian analysis, etc.
Bottom line: The situation we find ourselves in, nowadays, is more a celebration of differences, than of our sameness. Out of the many, MANY. Not unity, but diversity.