The Present Actual Situation of Philosophical Reflection

While philosophical reflection is temporally-historically so conditioned, its aim is the universal and eternal.  These however are, and are reflectively discernible, only in and through the individual and temporal.  Or better:  since the universal and individual, eternal and temporal, are not distinct things or opposites, but constitute reflectively characterizable aspects of the concrete situation of being, reflection must break forth out of non-reflective immersion in the present actual situation.  In so doing, it does not leave that situation but constitutes that altered mode of absorption within the concrete situation which attempts to elicit in conception the universal and eternal accessible to it.  –Richard Gotshalk, “Reflection and Seeing”

15 responses

  1. and to think that people say this sort of thing with such utter conviction that they are actually describing some thing that we might actually do…

      • I think you and I read this passage quite differently. Not only does what Gotshalk describes seem practicable to me, I take it the doing of it to be what marks most of my favorite philosophers and poets. –To name one example, it seems to me to be the sort of thing Jan Zwicky cares about centrally in *Lyric Philosophy*. I certainly do not take it to be any movement out of the human condition, out of our experience, but rather–as Gotshalk says–an alteration of the character of our immersion in experience. It is not an opting out of that immersion. Gotshalk rejects the sort of thing you are rejecting; he does not endorse it. The rest of the essay makes that clear. I can send you a copy if you want one. You and Gotshalk may in fact disagree but the disagreement will have to be more precisely located.

      • that would be great thanks hard perhaps to grasp such a radical seeming alteration without more details, don’t know JZ but looking forward to finding out more:

      • JZ seems to be con-fusing phenomenology (that we can with right efforts come to see composed objects/works as gestalts/wholes, Alva Noe has a newish book out on how we can learn to do this sort of thing with artworks) with physics (for example “eco-systems” aren’t bounded like a body or even a book, and bodies are no more and no less than assemblages of working parts tho of course we might re-compose them in differing ways in terms of our relations with them). Capacities for poetic dwelling can a show us a great deal about some aspects human-being but not much else.

      • Well, we disagree about all of that, as far as I can tell, from JZ to what “poetic dwelling” can show. But, for what it is worth, I have sent you the entire Gotshalk essay, should you want to read it.

  2. my better half was a scholar of John Wesley who has been relatively tamed by both the evangelical conservatives and the social liberals, he actually had a better (but i think heretical) idea that we could (thru god’s grace) go thru a kind of second/spiritual evolution and gain super-natural senses and so literally become post/pre-human which while wacky at least gets one out of the bind of how we poor blinkered critters might somehow overcome our critterly limits/biases to take in something (anything) truly Other.

  3. still working on this, a bit of Pippen on Wittgenstein vs Plato for the mix:
    the more we emphasize otherness of images since made, the more difficult it becomes to retain any imaging “originals” talk, or finally of ontology

  4. We have seen how difficult it is to preserve the abstract concepts of religion among men by means of permanent signs. Images and hieroglyphics lead to superstition and idolatry, and our alphabetical script makes man too speculative. It displays the symbolic knowledge of things and their relations too openly on the surface. It spares us the effort of penetrating and searching, and creates too wide a division between doctrine and life. In order to remedy these defects, the Lawgiver of this nation gave the ceremonial law. Religious and moral teachings were to be connected with men’s everyday activities.
    – Moses Mendelssohn.

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