File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0111, message 44


Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2001 03:37:58 +1000
Subject: Re: Ethics as a Figure of Nihilism


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Steve/All,

Did Lyotard or any of the others you name say "all communities are inoperative"?

regards,

Hugh

````````````````````````````````

  Steve wrote,



  Hugh

  I am interested in the Lyotard paragraph because it is a nice summation of precisely the point of struggle I have around this issue. It is not clear that the ethical positions referred to. which I understand as referring to Lyotard, Levinas and so on - are relevant to the notion of significant others. This is because all communities are inoperative - it is not clear how ethics can help inform us how to get beyond our subordination to social and political divisions and techno-scienctific domination.

  (Most of the time I'd probably say that the utilitarian ethics of peter singer are more usefully political than Levinas...)

  Ethics as used in political and religious circles - are of course used simply to justify positions...

  regards

  steve

  hbone wrote:



      All,

      Up to this point I've been unable to find anything of interest in this discussion, 
      have nothing to offer, yet wonder why.

      Ethics as national policy seems an oxymoron.  Sacrificial death is not merely  the motif of suicide bombers, and the origin of Christianity, it is central to the concept of nation-statehood.

      When Lyotard and others speak of justice and the social bond, they presuppose a continuity of personal relationships and institutional support for those relationships
      as they affect significant others, parents and children, extended families, tribes, communities.  Ethics are relevant.

      The concept of the nation-state presupposes personal relationships are subordinate to the nations's interests.  Citizens are, from time to time,obliged to fight and die for the state to preserve its interests. 

      A state's relation to other states is founded on interests, not ethics.  Fidelity and loyalty between states does appear, for a time, so long as mutual interests are served. 

      regards,
      Hugh

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


      like the work of Negri and Hardt, Badiou's work is a return to a more Hegelian line of descent, rather than the Kantian turn favored by Lyotard. The inherent materialism and the rejection of any transcendent 'beyond' are both implicit and sometimes explicit in the text. Ignoring the new philosophers (which is a pleasure) - the concept of difference is in various forms is found throughout the work of Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault and Lyotard is arguably founded on distinguishing their thought from Hegelian conceptions of difference. I am thinking especially of Derrida and Deleuze here - (read through Gillian Rose ) - but it also works in relation to Lyotard for  the non-humanistic, initially anti-humanism  conception of difference avoids contradiction and suggests that contradiction is infinitely less important than 'difference'. But without contradiction how can the marxist critique of capital be derived? Badiou's relationship to 'difference' and the rejection of Kantian approaches,  perhaps even the refusal of the sublime begins from the materialist/marxist need for contradiction which is used in Hegal to 'resolve it, to interiorize it'... difference that is.

      I touch on this (badly) to stress that Badiou's anti-humanism, has the same origins as the previous generation of radical French thinkers, but that the divergence between the positions is in the relations to the material...

      The proposal of ethics as a nihalism is also a rejection of the neitschean-marxism that was a feature of 1970s radical thought in france...

      regards

      steve

      Shawn P. Wilbur wrote:

I can see how this sort of "ethics" might be at work in someone likeFerry, but there seems to be very little here that resembles Lyotard'sthought - and nothing that has much in common with the approach to ethicsof folks like Derrida. -shawnShawn P. Wilbur       www.wcnet.org/~swilbur  | lists.village.virginia.edu/~spoonswww.wcnet.org/~paupers  | alwato.iuma.com         On Wed, 7 Nov 2001, Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:
This chapter begins with the statement that "ethics designates aboveall, the incapacity, so typical of the contemporary world, to name andstrive for a Good...resignation in the face of necessity together with apurely negative, if not destructive, will.  It is this combination thatshould be designated as nihilism."What Badiou considers as the realm of necessity is one that issynonymous with ethics as the figure of the logic of Capital.  The roleethics plays is to organize subjectivity and public opinion to ratifywhat seems necessary.  Since this economic realm is sacrosanct, theroles of ethics becomes restricted to a secondary position.  The important issues are predetermined and remain unexamined by ethics.All its judgements of value remain within the context of economics, thenecessary. What must be done is no longer a matter of principle, butmerely a matter of practicality - what is effective u
nder the existingcircumstances.In this way, ethics acts as an implicit denial of truth.  For what ischaracteristic of truth is that it bores a hole in establishedknowledges.  Truth is the only thing for all and therefore standsagainst dominant opinions which work only for the benefit of some,namely those who benefit from this so-called necessity.The way this applies to 'concern for the other' is as follows.  The Lawin the form of human rights is always already there.  It has beenpre-established.  There is, however, no question of reconsidering thisLaw and thereby going beyond it.  Like economics, the Law is governed ultimately by the conservativeidentity that sustains it.  The Law is simply another word fornecessity.  As Badiou points out, from a psychological point of view, inthe end such an ethics is governed by a will to nothingness, a deathdrive.This leads to the shiver that is felt when t
he Other comes too close,when Evil knocks at one's own door.  For at its core, ethics remainssimply the power to decide who is to live and who is to die.  Ethicsregards with pity those victims who are being-for-death.  It condescendsto help, but only to the extent that these victims choose what isnecessary as opposed to what is true. Otherwise, ethics transforms thesevictims into criminals who must then be destroyed. Badiou next discusses euthanasia and bio-ethics. He remarks that ethics"allows death to go about its busines, without opposing to it theImmortality of resistance."He compares this to Nazism which had a very thoroughgoing ethics ofLife.  The distinction it made was to distinguish between a dignifiedlife and an undignified one - to uphold the one and to destroy theother. Badiou argues that similarly today, the conjunction of bio (geneticengineering, euthanasia etc) with ethics in the hands
of abstract<br>committees is threatening in similar ways.  "Every definition of Manbased on happiness is nihilist."  He says.In other words ethics is used to enforce our happiness by imposingconditions of misery based upon necessity on those who potentiallythreaten our superior condition - to improve the white man and destroythe monster - without recognizing the extent to which the one dependsupon the other.Ethics is the interweaving of an unbridled and self-serving economy withthe discourse of law. It dooms 'what is' to the Western mastery of death- conservative propaganda with an obscure desire for catastrophe.  (likethose American conservatives who aren't afraid of global warming becauseJesus is coming back anyway.)Only be affirming truths against this desire for nothingness cannihilism be overcome - against the ethics of living-well whose realcontent is the deciding of death, there stands an eth
ic of truth.eric






--Boundary_(ID_UJ7r2ChbVy41lrRZWPKF/w)

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Steve/All,
 
Did Lyotard or any of the others you name say "all communities are inoperative"?
 
regards,
 
Hugh
 
````````````````````````````````
 
Steve wrote,
 

Hugh

I am interested in the Lyotard paragraph because it is a nice summation of precisely the point of struggle I have around this issue. It is not clear that the ethical positions referred to. which I understand as referring to Lyotard, Levinas and so on - are relevant to the notion of significant others. This is because all communities are inoperative - it is not clear how ethics can help inform us how to get beyond our subordination to social and political divisions and techno-scienctific domination.

(Most of the time I'd probably say that the utilitarian ethics of peter singer are more usefully political than Levinas...)

Ethics as used in political and religious circles - are of course used simply to justify positions...

regards

steve

hbone wrote:
 
 
All,
 
Up to this point I've been unable to find anything of interest in this discussion, 
have nothing to offer, yet wonder why.
 
Ethics as national policy seems an oxymoron.  Sacrificial death is not merely  the motif of suicide bombers, and the origin of Christianity, it is central to the concept of nation-statehood.
 
When Lyotard and others speak of justice and the social bond, they presuppose a continuity of personal relationships and institutional support for those relationships
as they affect significant others, parents and children, extended families, tribes, communities.  Ethics are relevant.
 
The concept of the nation-state presupposes personal relationships are subordinate to the nations's interests.  Citizens are, from time to time,obliged to fight and die for the state to preserve its interests.  
 
A state's relation to other states is founded on interests, not ethics.  Fidelity and loyalty between states does appear, for a time, so long as mutual interests are served. 
 
regards,
Hugh
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


like the work of Negri and Hardt, Badiou's work is a return to a more Hegelian line of descent, rather than the Kantian turn favored by Lyotard. The inherent materialism and the rejection of any transcendent 'beyond' are both implicit and sometimes explicit in the text. Ignoring the new philosophers (which is a pleasure) - the concept of difference is in various forms is found throughout the work of Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault and Lyotard is arguably founded on distinguishing their thought from Hegelian conceptions of difference. I am thinking especially of Derrida and Deleuze here - (read through Gillian Rose ) - but it also works in relation to Lyotard for  the non-humanistic, initially anti-humanism  conception of difference avoids contradiction and suggests that contradiction is infinitely less important than 'difference'. But without contradiction how can the marxist critique of capital be derived? Badiou's relationship to 'difference' and the rejection of Kantian approaches,  perhaps even the refusal of the sublime begins from the materialist/marxist need for contradiction which is used in Hegal to 'resolve it, to interiorize it'... difference that is.

I touch on this (badly) to stress that Badiou's anti-humanism, has the same origins as the previous generation of radical French thinkers, but that the divergence between the positions is in the relations to the material...

The proposal of ethics as a nihalism is also a rejection of the neitschean-marxism that was a feature of 1970s radical thought in france...

regards

steve

Shawn P. Wilbur wrote:
I can see how this sort of "ethics" might be at work in someone like
Ferry, but there seems to be very little here that resembles Lyotard's
thought - and nothing that has much in common with the approach to ethics
of folks like Derrida.

-shawn

Shawn P. Wilbur
www.wcnet.org/~swilbur | lists.village.virginia.edu/~spoons
www.wcnet.org/~paupers | alwato.iuma.com

On Wed, 7 Nov 2001, Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

This chapter begins with the statement that "ethics designates above
all, the incapacity, so typical of the contemporary world, to name and
strive for a Good...resignation in the face of necessity together with a
purely negative, if not destructive, will. It is this combination that
should be designated as nihilism."

What Badiou considers as the realm of necessity is one that is
synonymous with ethics as the figure of the logic of Capital. The role
ethics plays is to organize subjectivity and public opinion to ratify
what seems necessary. Since this economic realm is sacrosanct, the
roles of ethics becomes restricted to a secondary position.

The important issues are predetermined and remain unexamined by ethics.
All its judgements of value remain within the context of economics, the
necessary. What must be done is no longer a matter of principle, but
merely a matter of practicality - what is effective u nder
the existing
circumstances.

In this way, ethics acts as an implicit denial of truth. For what is
characteristic of truth is that it bores a hole in established
knowledges. Truth is the only thing for all and therefore stands
against dominant opinions which work only for the benefit of some,
namely those who benefit from this so-called necessity.

The way this applies to 'concern for the other' is as follows. The Law
in the form of human rights is always already there. It has been
pre-established. There is, however, no question of reconsidering this
Law and thereby going beyond it.

Like economics, the Law is governed ultimately by the conservative
identity that sustains it. The Law is simply another word for
necessity. As Badiou points out, from a psychological point of view, in
the end such an ethics is governed by a will to nothingness, a death
drive.

This leads to the shiver that is felt when t he Other
comes too close,
when Evil knocks at one's own door. For at its core, ethics remains
simply the power to decide who is to live and who is to die. Ethics
regards with pity those victims who are being-for-death. It condescends
to help, but only to the extent that these victims choose what is
necessary as opposed to what is true. Otherwise, ethics transforms these
victims into criminals who must then be destroyed.

Badiou next discusses euthanasia and bio-ethics. He remarks that ethics
"allows death to go about its busines, without opposing to it the
Immortality of resistance."

He compares this to Nazism which had a very thoroughgoing ethics of
Life. The distinction it made was to distinguish between a dignified
life and an undignified one - to uphold the one and to destroy the
other.

Badiou argues that similarly today, the conjunction of bio (genetic
engineering, euthanasia etc) with ethics in the hands of abstract<
br>committees is threatening in similar ways. "Every definition of Man
based on happiness is nihilist." He says.

In other words ethics is used to enforce our happiness by imposing
conditions of misery based upon necessity on those who potentially
threaten our superior condition - to improve the white man and destroy
the monster - without recognizing the extent to which the one depends
upon the other.

Ethics is the interweaving of an unbridled and self-serving economy with
the discourse of law. It dooms 'what is' to the Western mastery of death
- conservative propaganda with an obscure desire for catastrophe. (like
those American conservatives who aren't afraid of global warming because
Jesus is coming back anyway.)

Only be affirming truths against this desire for nothingness can
nihilism be overcome - against the ethics of living-well whose real
content is the deciding of death, there stands an eth ic of truth.

er
ic





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