Reason is always imperfect, a dialectical fragment
January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
In the last post, the narrator of In Search of Lost Time was seen struggling between two instincts which were marked by their relationships to time: one linear, the other abstract. These correspond to different understandings of the world which comprise the paradox of existence: progressive accumulation of moments in time & an eternity that knows no tenses.
It is curious to note how social understandings of time influence the political identity of individuals. Presently, the concern is one toward the future, toward growth (garnered by capitalism). This compliments the rationalism that has been lauded since the scientific revolution & is a direct product of it. Once global values were realigned from religion & the longevity of royal lines to natural philosophy & the succession into ever “more developed” systems, progress was an inevitable replacement for the instinct to eternity.
If the choice of “eternity” offends for its weight on the religious over the other possible choices, let it be understood that the religious is the most universally developed of the irrational forms. Eternity describes equally something that is void of history as well as having the condition of never ending. It is not free, as it is necessarily complete, without choice for never having come into being, for not belonging to the historical. If it is to be represented in a timeline, it would have to resemble the chaos of furies or the aimlessness of flies collecting over dead time; it must turn into itself persistently so:
The atheistic view to disassemble religion is futile, it follows the same motion above: those who persist in it contribute nothing but some equivalent to hate mail & resemble the adult who has not outgrown bouncing one’s childhood ball against a wall. To say simply that faith is irrational communicates to no-one outside the value system of rationality.
It does not matter whether religion is in question, the emotional stages, art for art’s sake, crime for crime’s sake, &c; these are all opposites of reason. Some of these behaviors may certainly be exercises in absurdity, but this cannot satisfy as “understanding” them — without attempts at rationalizing these actions, which are both popular & often instinctual, you are left with an immediate rejection, a response which is, on the basis of being reactionary, also emotional.
There is much absurdity to be uncovered in the official spheres as well, & this is the common work of intellectuals today. To describe them & criticize we must follow through their inner logic like a tradition we need not uphold. To develop, science similarly had to cease trusting only empirical observation. Faith is the condition by which we can continue on in life as if enjoying the dramatic illusion of a play, suspending ourselves for the sake of a good story. We are required to believe a body before us to be the ghost of Hamlet’s father for instance (which is to say we must take him as a representation) so that the events may unfold as they do. It is the same in life. We are required to keep up the dramatic illusion of events & behaviors whether or not we believe in them, otherwise our engagement will be sterile.
all life is based on appearance, art, deception, point of view, the necessity of perspective & error. From the start Christianity was, essentially & fundamentally, the embodiment of disgust & antipathy for life, merely disguised, concealed, got up as the belief in an ‘other’ or a ‘better’ life… a transcendental world invented the better to slander this one, basically a yearning for non-existence (“Attempt at Self-criticism” 8—9).
Friedrich Nietzsche precedes this by arguing that “the existence of the world is justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon” (8); to trust in truth would suggest that there was something to be true to. As phenomenon, the world is experiential. As aesthetics, it is modified. Consequently life is entirely without a moral system, being wholly dependent on necessarily-illusory perspectives. Religious constriction tries even to deprive us of the simplest pleasures to be found in the absurd. Nietzsche inverts the promise of heaven as one that does not affirm life, but denounces its freedom, its great perhapses & possibilities. Viewed as such, it is a tool to systematically order the universe.
The fact remains, just as time & space can only be made absolutely distinct in a theoretical realm, any thing is only ever solely a thing outside meaning abstractly. Any neurotic will tell you, all actions are pregnant with meaning; any unrequited love will exhibit, interpretation is inconstant.
As a result, there can be no sincere claim to truth on account of our historical positioning, from which our capacity for producing meaning is acquired. Reason is always imperfect. If it were to strive for perfection, a condition of which is completion, reason would belong more comfortably to that other pursuit of eternity. Incompleteness/imperfection shouldn’t be shunned, for nothing else is knowable.
Concerns over the falsity of life are indeed valid. What more (what’s truer) we have is alienated from others & exists only hypothetically. Concerns over the falsity of religion are likewise valid. Nevertheless, as the most comprehensive system of faith — here used at its most basic value of assuming the signifier/signified relationship — religion should be treated as an amplifier of an essential human tool. It may just prove to have a new, if an altogether unintended, teaching.