Comment Threads; Wily Socrates Posts

Welcome to new readers! And to old. This is designed to help you find otherwise invisible comment threads….

Here’s what’s happening:

1) The “Wily Socrates” posts have generated a sustained debate over the reading of Plato’s Ion, and any lit and theory student will recognize this text as the first entry in historical anthologies of literary theory. Start with Posts # 4 and # 5 and be sure to read their comment threads (and the illustrious “Rick”). Then go back and pick up what you’ve missed from earlier episodes.

Comments: essential reading and thinking for theory students, both undergrads and graduate students. Especially helpful with classical Greek terms still in play with Derrida, Heidegger, et alia. And it’s offered freely by deepgrace. Pass the word.

2) Lengthy conversation about quantum mechanics (much enjoyed by scientists, to all appearances) and about what can and cannot be said about Special and General Relativity, QM, and historical paradigm shifts. The theorist had described a paradigm shift across the disciplines beginning in the earlier 20th century, and characterized it as a brilliant critique of Newtonian Enlightenment rationalism (the Cartesian paradigm) that has opened for us the opportunities for rigorous post-modern thinking, especially as seen in French poststructuralism. The scientists objected to her “sloppy thinking” about relativity and QM. She cajoled and pleaded. They insisted and explained quantum mechanics for humanists so they wouldn’t keep saying irresponsible things about it. She is now preparing to respond with what she has learned.

Comments: it’s best to read the theorist’s Session One, Part 4 (under Pages) first, and then the comment thread. The thread includes a consideration of the ink-and-paper scientists view as “reality” compared with the play Hamlet that humanists views as the reality, in respective disciplines.

3) The famous “gnomes with shovels” conversation. Read A Journey of Discovery for Me and a Pointed Question for Scientists — and its comment thread.

Comments: we need to get back to this question of the “soul” and why humanists and poets balk at reducing human beings to “minds and bodies” exclusively (the Cartesian paradigm). Across our culture, there is a desire or mood of wanting to bring the heart or the soul or the spiritual and emotional back into the picture, pushing back against the rpevious era of reductive rationalism, when it was believed that animals, for instance, are merely machines. (Descartes divided all of “reality” into res extensa and res cogitans. Inert “stuff” that extends in space and time, and thinking “stuff,” found in human minds and in the mind of God. In tellectual and disciplinary problems with this and its pernicious influence on Christian theology in the Modern West are frequently noted by various voices on this website.) So read the post and thread and comment!

4) An older post on Kevin Hart’s discussion of post-modern or post-critical theologians Marion, von Balthasar, and Milbank along with Derrida and Levinas continues to draw a steady readership.

5) immanence and transcendence — a recurring theme for the theorist, with reference to the Greeks and to Christian theology in the earlier West. Also with reference to modern physicists and mathematicians, who believe in the reality of “all possible mathematical universes” and therefore would characterize themselves as “Platonists.”

Comments: They say they believe in “the existence of” all possible mathematical universes. I’m fascinated with this obsession with “existence” as the mark of what is real — a very modern way of thinking reality. Begins with Descartes, of course, and runs through Bertrand Russel, for example — and is contrasted by the theorist with the Greek thinking of reality as elegant formality, that which outlasts the Actual world and all actual instantiations of elegant formalisms. The actual instances come into being and pass away. The formal elegances of the Possible which underlies the Actual is what is Real, by contrasting with the Actual. For Moderns, reality is the Actual, the actually occuring temporal and spacial instances, because they seem to us “concrete” and “objective” (i.e. like OBJECTS) and hence we lose sight of indwelling formal order as the mark of the really real — the mark of an immanent-and-transcendent mystery, what the Greeks thought of as the beautiful, the true, and the good.

Under construction: some places to find it. Click here, here, or here….

6) If you get into the Wily Socrates posts, or if you getinto the weblog’s mission of explaining poststructuralism (eventually), then be sure to visit the Saussure learning modules (and take the Quizzes, they’re great fun) found here.

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