Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Scholasticism or Conceptual Personae

This post began bumping around in my head based on the comments from Levi's post on What is Posthumanism? (featuring special guest star, Matthew Calarco). Then became more solidified by a few posts between Peter and Levi (and briefly, here is Peter again. Also, sorry for anyone that didn't see Levi's first post before he took it down). However, I don't have a lot of time to write this out, but I wanted to get some ideas out.

Part of the fear is around a new scholasticism: that we start writing book reports rather than doing philosophy, that we need to be authorized to speak, that we feel we can never speak in our own name. And in general, I think we have all experienced these issues. There is certainly a degree of new scholasticism out. I am lucky that Derrida decided to focus on the question of the animal (particularly late in his life). Not just because he wrote some smart and useful things, but because it has given my work legitimacy that it wouldn't have had even a decade ago (and that is true even if I don't mention Derrida). But while the problems of a new scholasticism are real (though I feel Levi has encountered them more than I have), I also think there is a place for conceptual personae. Of the enabling of thinking and production of philosophy that comes from reading authors. And occasionally, maybe even often, that means giving credit of ideas to these thinkers that are only vaguely or fleetingly there. It is hard, especially on the inside of an idea, to know where that idea originates. If another thinker has allowed to me think something new (at least new for myself) it is common to give credit even if that thought was aleatory to the reading. There is something to do be said for doing work while wearing the masks of other thinkers. The question becomes how do we allow for that to happen, without the issues of new scholasticism? Or, so the problems of new scholasticism become minimized rather than maximized? Because not everyone needs to wear masks when they work, and that is important as well.