This chapter identifies two contrasting methodological reductions utilized in philosophical scepticism: withdrawal/doubt [R–]; immersion/attention [R+]. Moving toward a feminist ethics grounded in phenomenological scepticism, Aumiller explores how reduction relates to experiences of personal and global uncertainty such as a pandemic. Reduction involves our entire embodied being, challenging how we are fundamentally in touch with the world. How we respond to being disrupted makes all the difference.
Apuleius’s The Golden Ass presents curiosity as the protagonist’s downfall, yet ultimately recodes curiosity as the single virtue through which the human soul achieves not only immortality but joy. I identify Apuleius’s treatment of curiosity as falling into the categories of erotic and nonerotic. The union of Eros and the curious human soul suggests that one who is erotically curious can take pleasure in her devotion to one, precisely because she has eyes for the beauty of many.
This essay interprets the epoché of ancient scepticism as the perpetual conversion of the love of one into the love of two. The process of one becoming two is represented in Plato’s Symposium by Diotima’s description of the second rung of ‘the ladder,’ by which one ascends to the highest form of philosophical devotion (Pl. Sym. 209e-210e). Diotima’s ladder offers a vision of philosophy as a total conversion of both the lover and the object of love (or philosopher and object (...) of knowledge). I suggest that scepticism, however, is found in the frustration of Platonic ascension, which results in a partial conversion. Because the process of conversion (from the love of one to the love of One) remains suspended midway, the sceptic’s transformation is erotic—this is to say, driven by a desire that is characterised by a split (which may be identified between subject and object, between incompatible objects of desire or knowledge, or within the subject herself). (shrink)
From Augustine’s (death) drive towards an imaginary time before speech to Marx’s drive toward an imaginary time after speech as we know it, we learn that we are always already within the bonds of the mother tongue. In the late twentieth-century, Derrida turns to both Augustine and Marx to repeat the fantasy of escaping the mother (tongue). Derrida responds to Marx’s analysis of our repeated failure to forget the mother tongue by turning to Augustine’s analysis of the mother’s touch: we (...) cannot forget the mother tongue because it is licked upon our skin. Drawing on Derrida’s relationship to Augustine and Marx on the topic of touch and language, I argue that although the bond of the mother tongue is inescapable, its very real grip upon our skin is founded upon a number of fantasies: the fantasy of the Mother, of a cut with the Mother by the Mother, which separates us from an original shared skin and binds us to the Mother tongue, the fantasy of self-articulation in the death of the Mother. I suggest that the symptoms of the fantasmatic foundation of our entrapment by the mother tongue-touch is expressed in barely perceptible glitches—a shiver passing over one’s skin, a stutter in one’s speech. (shrink)
This paper critiques of the privileging of seriousness in modern scholarship and particularly in the humanities, on account of its purported neutrality and objectivity, the resulting foreclosing of all other emotions and insights, and the potentially subversive and enriching potential of laughter, as discussed in Karl Marx’s dichotomy of laughter and seriousness.
Following Freud’s analysis of the fragile line between the uncanny double and its comic redoubling, I identify the doubling of the double found in critical moments of Hegelian dialectic as producing a kind of comic effect. It almost goes without saying that two provides greater pleasure than one, the loneliest number. Many also find two to be preferable to three, the tired trope of dialectic as a teleological waltz. Two seems to offer lightness, relieving one from her loneliness and lacking (...) the complications of a third who comes in between. And yet, we learn through Marx and Freud that the double (even the double of tragedy and farce) borders on something closer to horror than comedy. -/- In the following, I would like to explore why four is funnier than two in my staging of dialectic as the doubling of the double or, to borrow a movie title from Laurel and Hardy, “Twice Two” (Roach et al. 1933a). I will begin by exploring the formulations of the double in the form of a pair of opposites and in the form of a pair of twins. The literary tropes of the double as the odd couple, on one side, and the twins, on the other, appear to serve very different narrative functions, which incite different kinds of affective responses from the audience. However, the form of the opposed double sometimes conceals the realization that the empty or fragmented content of the first is only reduplicated in the second. The “straight man” of the odd couple cannot see himself in his counterpart “the comic.” The redoubling of the double, however, forces not only the audience, but the original double on stage to confront what was already present, but unrealized, from the beginning. To illustrate this redoubling of the double within the opening of Hegel’s Science of Logic, I consider two short films by Laurel and Hardy in which the comic duo redoubles itself. The formula (2 x 2) produces a comic excess through the dialectical redoubling of there uncanny double. (shrink)
In the Confessions, Augustine speculates that before we are aware of language, we learn our mother tongue through our mother's touch. These early lessons in language are first taught through a gentle touch: the nipple of the mother in the mouth of the infant. Language is later reinforced by a violent touch: the schoolmaster's switch. Augustine suggests that any memory of a time before the touch of language is purely imaginary. Nevertheless, his autobiography attempts to return to a time before (...) the touch of the mother, which, for Augustine, is at once the touch of the mother tongue.1 Since our relationship to our own infancy is imaginary, our infancy neither properly belongs to our memory nor can it be properly... (shrink)
Memorialization in the form of the architectural statue can suggest that our stance towards the past is concrete while memorials in the form of repeated social activity represent reconciliation with the past as a continual process. Enacted memorials suggest that reconciliation with the past is not itself a thing of the past. Each generation must grapple with its inherited memories, guilt, and grief and self-consciously take its own stance towards that which came before it. This article considers Dominik Smole’s post (...) World War II rewrite of Antigona as an enacted memorial within the context of socialist Yugoslavia. The practice of restaging Antigona in Slovenia may be seen as the practice of meta-memorialization, which routinely returns to the past while openly weighing the dangers of awakening the unburied dead against the dangers of letting the unaddressed conflicts of the past sleep. (shrink)
In his 1937 lectures, Heidegger searches for Nietzsche’s initial thought of “the Moment”. This paper mimics Heidegger’s pursuit of Nietzsche’s Moment by tracing Heidegger’s own early arrival at the Moment in Being and Time, published 10 years prior to his lectures on Nietzsche. Both Zarathustra and Dasein are chased in and out of an authentic relationship with the Moment by their own shadows, which disappear at midday. Dasein’s shadow is the being that is always closest-at-hand, the being in whom I (...) lose myself in everyday care. Dasein forgets itself in inauthentically securing its identity in that which it cares for and that which it is not, darkness. Yet Dasein also confronts its own finitude in its negative double as it witnesses the daily dwindling of its shadow—the everyday passing away of time. (shrink)
A Touch of Doubt traces the theme of touch in the evolution of skepticism through Platonism, German idealism, Continental philosophy and psychoanalysis. Haptic Scepticism, the field of ethics emerging from this study, explores the grasp-ability of contradiction. Contradiction is a haptic marvel. We can cup it in our palms, press it against our lips, dip our toes into its coolness, and, if we are not careful, we may even burn ourselves on its surface.
The process of bringing an exhausted order to the grave to make space for the life of new societal practice and belief is represented in ancient Greek drama by the death of the gods who ‘’die’’ once in tragedy and once again in comedy. Hegel reads the second and final death of the gods in ancient comedy as enacting a kind of societal action through which a community reclaims its creative agency by destroying the social and political orders that structured (...) a tragic stage of history. Although Hegel highlights this creative action as going beyond aesthetic representation, he sees ancient comedy as achieving a superficial sense of freedom from tragedy, because the community sees itself as separate from its creation, which is destructible. For this reason Hegel moves beyond ancient comedy and locates comic resolution not in the representation of the death of the old gods on the ancient stage, but in the narrative of the death of Christ. This paper explores how Hegel’s reading of the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ mirrors the ancient tragedy and comedy. I argue that comedy, for Hegel, is realized through the story of the crucifixion, in which the comic community identifies with that which must be destroyed for the reconciliation of its society. (shrink)