File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 99

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 16:28:03 +0100
Subject: Re: Aesthetics of ethics?


> Eden? Literally a time and space before the socius, before any social.
> Before knowledge of anything (objective), let alone Good and Evil. There is
> nothing Utopian about Eden, because there isn't any social (besides a
> collective subjectivity). I could argue that you need a collective
> objectivity for there to be a social.
> Then "new born infants and intellectually disabled humans" would be in a
> state similar to what I call 'Eden'.

Peter Singer (and I agree with him for slightly different philosophical
reasons)- and whom I would regard as being in some sense an exemplary PM
philosopher- whose asking of difficult ethical questions and the
positions that result are principally PM - argues that it should be
accepted that "new born infants and intellectually disabled humans" have
no more right to existence than for example
another form of primate or similarly sentient being such as a cow or
dolphin. He asks what is the distinction between 'killing a person and
killing some other type of being'.

Given the extent to which current investigations and understanding of
animal beings is constructing a picture of our fellow animals as being
deeply cultural and having committed social lives, it is a small step to
ask why theircultures, lives and existences are of less importance than
our own particular species.

It also seems probable that the state of 'Eden' mentioned above has not
and cannot be considered as existing except as perhaps an ideal state. 
do not believe that humans and the other sentieint beings on this planet
and ever be understood as having existed external to social and cultural
relationships. Perhaps for the human species it is worth asking the two
following thought
experiments 'when did the State come into existence?', 'when did 
political economy come into existance?' - Mumford answers the first
question as  being 10K plus years ago - Deleuze and Guattari place it as
being even further back possibly even prior to the first known great
industrial revolution of neolithic farming. Political economy seems to
have always existed....

> (I am only using the term 'Eden' because in an analogous sense there is a
> definite break between Heaven on Earth and the generation of a social, i.e.
> language, clothes, morality, possibily knowledge of self, etc).

In this sense 'Eden' is an ideal, a utopia which is impossible to
achieve without the complete redesign of humanity - probably with the
use of
genetic engineering.

> That is what I was saying we can not return to. Mainly because we are
> capable of objectified thought, and because there are things to think
> objectively about, rather than operating on pure instinct. It was just a
> throw away line...
> Thankyou very much for mentioning Badiou.
>  > Would you then abandon the ethics of otherness as does Badiou?
> Is (what I think is) his latest book "Ethics" the most appropriate to read
> so as to answer your question?
> I just got stuck into that book last night, and it seems the most
> appropriate.
> I have churned through a few of his works, and maybe I was too quick make
> assumptions...
> What are your concerns with Badiou's ethics?

I am not convinced that you can construct an ethics without some
recognition of
the relationship between self/subject and other. 

The construction of Kantian forms of intervention in the name of a
'universal good' is not sustainable - primarily because of the implicit
critique and rejection that Singer's work necessitates - post-modernity
displaces humanity from the centre of things, (reactionary thinkers such
as Luc Ferry attempt to place humanity back into the centre but this is
not sustainable). 

However the other direction which Badiou refuses re-works ethical
procedures as self/other relationships  and is
foundedon attempts to construct respect structured on
non-reductionistdifferences between cultures, this I have a bigger
problem with losing as the pragmatics of the ethics is very attractive -
difference - because of its pragmatic value in denying the supremacy of
(one object over another object), but I agree that Badiou's rejection
founded on the refusal of universalisation and theology is essential.

(However the use and necessity for Levinas of a God in justifying this
is simply
absurd and does put the entire structure into a terminal crisis.)

I think all of the three available Badiou texts are excellent -
Manifesto, Deleuze and Ethics... He is so delightfully argumentative -
the explicit attack on Lyotard in Manifesto is especially thought
provoking - but it is really an explicit attack on the new-philosophers
(Ferry, Glucksman etc) and their reactionary perspectives.




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