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Philosophy, Religion and Negation

Authors:

Abstract

Abstract. A new time calls for a new theoretical venture. The usual method of exploring negativity through a polemic of thought and thought-about, immanence and transcendence, is but one manner to discern a religious state of affairs. Another manner concerns an ability for honesty; definitional intensions around an inability to make headway into religious theory seems founded in a Postmodern theological stalemate. Some intellectual postures appear turning what is negative into positive space even while other authors and activists of religion shape a positivity of world in terms of escape or denial. This essay highlights the conundrum of correlation involved with religion and its philosophical theory; the very terms of the discussion can be understood to exhibit problem of a normative theoretical approach upon religion. Slavoj Zizek has given us insight into what ‘ends’ might actually bring about, and a proper placement of ‘either/or’ mentality is called for through the Tool Being of Graham Harman. This essay will explore the possibility that religion is a negativity which exhibits an ‘in-itself’ object called the human Being. Thus, a critique which attempts to recoup the loses accruing by various theoretical ‘posts’ and postures evidences its own involvement in a religious offense as such procedures attempt to negate negation through further negation. I then consider if such philosophical approaches to the study of religion are not indeed psychological defenses which function to resist real solutions in the sense of mental health and religious affect.
RUNNING HEADER: RELIGION AND NEGATION, A COUNSELOR’S PERSPECTIVE
Religion and Negation: A Counselor’s Perspective.
Lance Allan Kair
Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology, University of California at Santa Cruz
Master of Counseling Program, student
Regis University; Denver, Colorado
Presented to the University of Toronto, Department of Religious Studies
Conference
April 18-19, 2019
KAIR - RELIGION AND NEGATION, A COUNSELOR’S PERSPECTIVE
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Religion and Negation: A Counsellor’s Perspective.
Lance Kair
Master of Arts, Counselling Program. Regis University, Denver, Colorado. U.S.A.
Abstract. A new time calls for a new theoretical venture. The usual method of exploring
negativity through a polemic of thought and thought-about, immanence and transcendence, is but
one manner to discern a religious state of affairs. Another manner concerns an ability for
honesty; definitional intensions around an inability to make headway into religious theory seems
founded in a Postmodern theological stalemate. Some intellectual postures appear turning what
is negative into positive space even while other authors and activists of religion shape a
positivity of world in terms of escape or denial. This essay highlights the conundrum of
correlation involved with religion and its philosophical theory; the very terms of the discussion
can be understood to exhibit problem of a normative theoretical approach upon religion. Slavoj
Zizek has given us insight into what ‘ends’ might actually bring about, and a proper placement of
‘either/or’ mentality is called for through the Tool Being of Graham Harman. This essay will
explore the possibility that religion is a negativity which exhibits an ‘in-itself’ object called the
human Being. Thus, a critique which attempts to recoup the loses accruing by various
theoretical ‘posts’ and postures evidences its own involvement in a religious offense as such
procedures attempt to negate negation through further negation. I then consider if such
philosophical approaches to the study of religion are not indeed psychological defenses which
function to resist real solutions in the sense of mental health and religious affect.
{KEYWORDS: care, continental, counseling, offense, object orientation, philosophy, religion,
responsibility, tool being}
What the hell are we talking about ?
Before critical theory, when we are still inside of philosophy, this must be the first
question asked of any proposal. The answer to this question should be specific; it should answer
with a definite object. For this essay, then, the answer to my first question is how philosophy is a
religion. It is not, how philosophy might be like a religion, but indeed, why philosophy is a
religion? This question goes to the very heart of the dilemma we seem to be facing in some
areas of contemporary philosophy, and the speculative approach to religion in particular. What is
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the relationship between a philosophy which proposes to be speaking about religion and religion
itself?
The first problem we encounter concerns the phenomenological center, what the authors
from the Speculative Realism Conference in 2007 have told us is the central thinker, or the
Cartesian subject, which is associated with the Copernican Revolution. This problem has been
neatly termed by Quentin Meillassoux as Correlationalism. But there is an internal problem
with this notice; in order for the term to be referring to something substantial, often enough this
substance must be set aside for the purpose of finding out what it really means. In other words,
correlationalism is itself subject to the same condition it seems to be in as an attempt to define
itself out of; it is an example of a self-inscribing limit. I submit that the name Correlationalism
is merely another way to talk about the maxim of Postmodern theory: There is nothing outside of
discourse.
A similar problem came out of that Speculative Realism Conference; one could say that
this basic issue forms the ground of the latest move about Realism. The way it appears in the
Speculative Realist domain is indeed the issue of the ground itself: No one at the conference
could come up with a satisfactory answer for it, and they still are not really helping us. But I feel
the most significant move was made by Graham Harman and his Object Oriented Philosophy; he
simply and unapologetically told us that he will now talk about objects – which is a novel idea,
but he has never really provided a satisfactory philosophical manner to step out of the gyre of
phenomenal reductive experience.
These are the same problems that have been recycling under different terms since the turn
of the Twentieth Century. Indeed, am I too kind to place such a recent allotment of
philosophical latitude? We need only to step back another hundred years or so and find Jacobi
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already predicting that the Kantian turn into the centrality of thought would find itself, one day,
eventually, established in nothing. Yet, it might appear that no one could hear him. The
philosophy of the synthetical a priori had to play itself out in time before anyone would hear
Jacobi’s argument resonate from the centuries past: And Meillassoux asks why did philosophy go
down this road of the subject and not that of the object?
*
Why is philosophy a religion? How might we establish the legitimacy of this claim?
After we ask what the hell we are talking about, and we answer with the religion of philosophy,
then we need then to take notice of what philosophy conveys to thought. If there at some point
was something that philosophy dealt with such that now it deals in nothing, then might we do
worse than to ask what philosophy is dealing with? Since, apparently the answer of nothing was
incorrect. And we look and we find people again analyzing philosophical things, the substance
of philosophy, and finding out that indeed it was not nothing that we found, but a nothing that
means something other than what nothing means. Was is Stephen Hicks who recently told us
that Nietzsche was not a nihilist? How are we to interpret this move, then? Which is to say, how
could it be that a whole history around Nietzsche found his and, as well, Kierkegaard’s
nothingness if now we see that those very good minds which fell toward the same interpretation
must not have been so good? We must pause, for we have really found another instance of the
correlation of philosophical thinking: It is thought that is never questioned. If we truly are
involved with philosophy, then we should not help ourselves when we cross the absurd idea that
thinking itself is less an ontological given than it is the manner by which a particular agenda is
upheld. Less a right of authentic subjectivity than an opportunity to be responsible.
*
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I am a counselor on a philosophical errand. I need not pursue sense with the same
methodological rigors of what I shall pose be called conventional philosophy because it is
exactly philosophy which is up for question. The object of the analysis is philosophy.
Somehow, we should guess the regular philosophers will cry foul; I suspect they will not let this
pass. And my response is two-fold: 1) Where have I erred in the summary of our situation? and
2) please hold your comments until the end of the presentation. My answer arises because such
rebuttals are indeed arising from the central phenomenal thinker as though such a formation is a
common and ubiquitous resource, on one hand, and merely a particular definitional formation
one the other, a formation which could change with the writing of a new sentence, according to
the simple Postmodernism. I do not question this contradiction, yet due to this quick response I
am also suggesting in so much as we are moving upon an unquestioned ontological premise
called thought that the corresponding answer to my proposal is a kind Latourian pass of
Postmodern immanent motion; namely, that philosophy as a name for a general mode of thinking
is a dynamic process of the likes founded through the explicit implication of the continental
stream of Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Husserl, Heidegger, Whitehead, Sartre, Deleuze, Guattari
and a potentially infinite set of others, and not a static or containable thing that can thus be
analyzed. For what we are analyzing philosophically is that which is presented, albeit through a
certain materialistic dialectic, that which Jacques Derrida specifically tells us is discourse. The
short of the problem is: How to find a parameter to something that is understood to have no
parameters?
*
I take Heidegger’s formulation of Dasein as it is, after we understand the significance of
an argument Graham Harman makes in his book “Tool Being”; to wit, the proper and responsible
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issue is no longer the debate between what is ready to hand and what is present at hand. We
might recall here Carol Gilligan’s argument of her book “A Different Voice” against what she
correctly identifies as a selective and myopic project of defining a proper scheme of moral
development. She, as I, do not call for another conventional polemical engagement of justice, of
who can make the better case. On the contrary; the polemic now is indeed difference, but
different in a manner that Alain Badiou (at least) has signaled for us: Different as indeed
different. Not merely as another phenomenal assertion of the rights afforded by justice; as I will
discuss elsewhere, justice here has led us to two irreconcilable manners of “being-there”. These
manners of viewing are indeed the last reduction of the parallax view Zizek gave us over a
decade ago, but the problem is not the views themselves. The aggravating issue, rather, is that
they are both involved in an attempt to convince the other of their own propriety through a mode
of argument that assumes their particular route of viewing, historically called opinion, is based in
a further omnipresent and common grounding presence called the subject of the universe. What
we have found as that this is not the case: There is no common ground in the last reduction.
The parameters of our problem of common method is, to paraphrase Cindi Lauper’s
classic song, philosophers just want to have fun. But the cost of this fun is taking its toll upon
the rest of a kind of Hegelian historical consciousness. Here we simply dig into our Postmodern
heritage and ask ourselves honestly just what is this climate that is changing? And then crash the
party and ask for the party members to open their eyes and attempt, at least, to consider what is
occurring with a sense of responsibility. Let what is responsible to our world take precedence
for a moment over what is right and just given the Postmodern condition of the radical retreat of
subjectivity to an alienated state of non-communication, and what that has brought to our reality:
In this corner, we have an overdetermined practical sensibility attempting to power its way
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through a methodological appropriation of continental philosophical tenets largely foreign to its
conceptual apparatus. And in the other corner we have the great underdetermined ironic dancer
of our time, who by the justice of right uses whatever tools are available to show to his opponent
what he is simply not able to view. The game is interesting and fun to watch, but indeed the
question that is beginning to rain down actuality upon the party is framed exactly as: What is the
climate that is changing? How do we act responsibly in this time of global and universal
relation? We can no longer to deny it; however, resonating the responsibility for deep adaptation
we should understand that we do not have an obligation to prove something that another simply
is not able to hear. Everyone does not have to believe anything. ‘We are all in this together’
does not mean that we must be concerned about only our own survival nor entirely concerned
with someone else’s; rather, the truth of our environment means that that we engage with the
truth responsibly. That is, the question is less what that means and more how to we come by that
meaning. The significant question for philosophy in this moment concerns what is being denied.
*
I propose that religion can be distinguished from concerns of the spirit through the
operation of offense. This is not a theological issue; I ask simply how philosophy poses itself to
be able to address religion without concerning the spirit of philosophy, to say, as some recent
authors have proclaimed, that theology has failed. We might inject Derrida’s Heideggerian
awareness: What spirit is destitute? Again, the introductory question: What the hell are we
talking about? What theology? The right question here is how philosophy is excluding itself
from responsibility in Gilligan’s Postmodern sense?
I frame this issue to ability through the philosophical ground of ‘I can; I will; I am’. First
off; I have always enjoyed Zizek’s excellent remark about love: Love is evil, he announces.
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What he means by this is relevant to Gilligan’s sense of responsibility. I love Zizek’s poignancy:
I do not love the world. In fact, I can tell you that my own personal attitude is that, at times, I
indeed hate the world, or at least have a strong dislike of having to deal with so much nonsense.
However, I do care about the world; I have concern for the world. Zizek has said, I pick out who
and what I love. But who and what I care about goes beyond any ability to choose, and when I
say “I don’t care” or its equally absolute “I love the world”, often enough I am indicating a deep
psychological state which resembles a desire to be responsible, even as a will might downplay
that responsibility. I submit that even as the practitioner flings weaponized ideas he only has
half grasped, he has indeed, through his own paths, nonetheless given us a good critique of this
Postmodern religious manner; i.e. while subjectivity may indeed be infinite in its creative
capacity to live in sensible yet imaginary worlds, not all such worlds are viable given the
condition of the universe. In short, just because I can, doesn’t mean that its meaning is true. Yet
to be sure, this is not to negate the “post-truth” true subjective meaning in the universe. Rather, it
means only that there exists a real possibility of a subject of the universe which nevertheless is
involved in understanding it’s real being as an object of the universe, which is to say, a universal
object. As a counselor, I must consider, then, how I might treat this subject of philosophy that
becomes offended at any suggestion which impinges upon its right to continually re-make the
world in its own image.
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Referenced
Gilligan, C., (1993). In a different voice: psychological theory and women’s development.
Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press
Harman, G., (2002). Tool being: Heidegger and the metaphysics of objects. Chicago, La Salle:
Open Court
Zizek, S., (2011). Living in the end times. London, New York: Verso
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Book
Book synopsis: There should no longer be any doubt: global capitalism is fast approaching its terminal crisis. Slavoj Žižek has identified the four horsemen of this coming apocalypse: the worldwide ecological crisis; imbalances within the economic system; the biogenetic revolution; and exploding social divisions and ruptures. But, he asks, if the end of capitalism seems to many like the end of the world, how is it possible for Western society to face up to the end times? In a major new analysis of our global situation, Žižek argues that our collective responses to economic Armageddon correspond to the stages of grief: ideological denial, explosions of anger and attempts at bargaining, followed by depression and withdrawal. For this edition, Žižek has written a long afterword that leaves almost no subject untouched, from WikiLeaks to the nature of the Chinese Communist Party.