by Andrea Elizabeth
Yesterday I attended the invocation ceremony to Phi Beta Kappa at my son’s university in dallas. Yes, I’m proud. The key note address was given by the head of the english department, but it was philosophical in nature, befitting the nature of the society. His manner was very soft-spoken and rhythmic, effectively sleep inducing to many, but was in high contrast to the polemical content of his talk. I don’t have the program in front of me, nor do I have a good memory of all the details, but I do have some impressions and responses.
He sounded like he was opposing every point I read in my Derrida for Dummies (Beginners, actually) book. In his introduction he described how ancient philosophy was about knowing onesself, how modern philosophy was about knowing the nature of things, and then he addressed post-modern philosophy. He called deconstructionists “mysologists”. He detailed the deconstructionist argument about not being able to know another’s essence, but thinks that they confuse difficult for impossible. If only he knew about essence and energies! He also seemed to believe in Absolute Divine Simplicity in that he said that when true knowledge is attained, all distinctions and individuality vanish. He said in this way philosophy brings death.
His criticism of eastern philosophy was that the Nazi’s were socialists (I guess indicating what happens when you give power to the people?), and how atrocious Stalin and Mussolini and other Asian leaders were. So much for oppressive western hegemony, he claims. I think there’s an argument that many of those leaders were influenced by the west.
Still, I believe oppression of the masses isn’t really geographically isolated. It’s everywhere, and it seems the uneducated masses are more vulnerable. However, these poor oppressed people can be seen as only more obvious indentured servants. Blind materialism is a very real threat to humanity too. I’m not a purist in that regard, but I tend to like those who are willing to give everything away.