The Magnanimity of Spirit: On The Human Consideration of Animals

Here is my latest piece for Epoché.

Do animals have rights we have duties to enforce? Are animals moral patients which demand of us a moral consideration for their own sake? Here is an argument which develops as a consequence of Hegel’s concept of recognition and the form of the Concept ass freedom. If recognition is free self-consciousness faced with free self-consciousness, then freedom must be endemic to what free beings desire. Though animals may have no rights in their domain of Nature, and though they do not meet us halfway in the consideration of each other as beings that should be free, and as beings that can come a mutual understanding and agreement on how to live in difference, the recognition of freedom compels humans to magnanimous attitude and action towards the animal kingdom without falling into illusions that animals are equal to us.

Inquiries Into the Possibility of Games and Art: Play and Gameplay [3]

[Header image not mine] Play Is Not Gameplay Let me claim something controversial: Minecraft is not a game. Minecraft is not a game in the same way LEGOs are not a game—they are toys. People have fun with Minecraft; they create in Minecraft, and they play in Minecraft, but it is not Minecraft that they play. It … Continue reading Inquiries Into the Possibility of Games and Art: Play and Gameplay [3]

Inquiries Into the Possibility of Video Games As Art: Games and Art [1]

[Header images not mine, but I did photoshop them. Cannot remember the original creators, will update information once I do.] The following is the beginning of what shall likely become a long series of shorter posts concerning my own struggle to think the relationship between … Continue reading Inquiries Into the Possibility of Video Games As Art: Games and Art [1]

Some Thoughts on Aletheia, the Cunning of Reason, and Truth

The reference in the title to Heidegger’s concept of Truth is explicit, however, what shall be discussed is not explicitly related to it. I do not know enough about Heidegger’s philosophy to say whether or not there is an overlap of meaning or similarity of the concepts, but nonetheless at face I notice a significant overlap of the concepts of Truth, aletheia’s general definition, and Hegel’s cunning of Reason.

The Cunning of Reason

The cunning of Reason is the operative fact that without willing or wanting it, the Truth reveals itself as a real or objective exertion behind our conscious and cognitive backs. It is the Truth which weaves and winds its way, developing and concretizing, without anyone’s conscious effort to make this so. If one wants an analogy one could hardly do better than the infamous ‘invisible hand’ of the market. With the invisible hand there is acknowledged a rationality that operates at the large scales of the market which orders yet arises from a whole world of individual interactions that have for their explicit aim no great order or goal, and which in merely occurring generate this self-ordering and guiding invisible hand. The cunning of Reason is also analogous to the fact of reflex where in the reflex itself is revealed an ordering dynamic of a two part system of action where only one action was intended and the other is a consequent unintended action. The cunning of Reason is reflex, it is the entire double movement of action and counteraction and the at first invisible pivot which divides and unifies both. It is the underside, the shadow, which appears beside all appearances in light and acts as its negative as well as points to the unitary source of light and shadow. This cunning is not the mere shadow, but the truth that underlies both light and shadow, itself a present absensence of which the two sides of the reflex being necessarily united are the coming to light of this totality which they are.

To put a politicaly flavored example: one could say that for Marx the cunning of Reason was precisely the fact that capitalism was generating its own condition of undoing through its very success. Though none know or even will it, communism is according to Marx being made way for by the success of capitalism in its productive capacity as well as in its homogenizing universalization of the mode of life with wage work, mass coordination in logistics, as well as mass global culture. Despite the fact that capitalism operates with selfish and particular interests and aims, in this hyper-individualistic system univeral aims and characteristics are being developed abstractly and concretely such that its nature seems to almost be entirely inverted in producing the opposite consequence of its intent. Mass culture makes people more alike, not more uniquely different. Capital accumulation makes all enterprises subject to one fundamental law of operation which they cannot escape no matter what other ulterior and moral reasons a business may have. The capitalist is not lord of capital, but capital lord of them. The activities of capitalism are in their very being occasioning a long and drawn out reflex in a historical counter-movement to the originating action, a counter-movement that is not itself a conscious consequence of the first movement. This reflex also reveals the rational—think of ratio and rationing in the sense of revealing a thing to be a fraction of a whole—totality which underlies the first and second movement, of the necessity of these two movements as parts of a greater movement of developed and developing reason.

Another example we may call upon is from psychoanalysis. There are, whether we like it or not, unconscious things we do that enact a truth we do not consciously have to be aware of to enact. Someone who happens to be in a cycle of abusive relationships clearly has a problem, that problem being that they are attracted to the kind of people that are abusive. The cunning of reason here is this fact of this unconscious cycle, a shadow which shows the presence of a truth that already is yet is not recognized. To recognize the problem as inherent and necessary in the individual in order that they may develop further is an actualized unveiling, and this unveiling leads to developments (positive or negative in subjective ways) that are further unforeseen and unintended. Happiness, for example, is an unintended consequent state of mind and living which arise tangential to practical and theoretical purposes which do not explicitly aim at such a state of mind.

Aletheia

According to Google the word in translation from the ancient Greek can mean the following: Truth, evident, unconcealed, unveiled. Whether this is academically satisfying I don’t care, but it is functional enough for the following thoughts.

Heidegger makes, and is perhaps the philosopher who first makes, unconcealment Truth. What he means by this I have only mere shadows of understanding, therefore this is as far as the reference goes; however, from the prior exploration of the cunning of Reason it should already be clear that at some level there is a definite affinity with aletheia defined as such. There is an inherent affinity with Truth and unconcealment, for even in common language we speak of the Truth of things in the sense of an unveiling.

The cunning of Reason is aletheia as concealed unconcealment. Concealed because it first appears as an unseen and unforeseen shadow of action and Being. Unconcealment because this shadow’s appearing is itself the event of the appearing of a Truth which was not known until the shadow was cast as the duality to light, i.e. the very appearing of a concealment is the beginning of unconcealment. Those not blinded by the glare of dogmatic daylight see consequent Truth appearing as these shadows of action, shadows of Being, which reveal that what is immediate is not all, and that what is merely immediately spoken and made explicit is not the only expositor of Truth. The cunning of Reason unconceals, unveils, makes evident and brings into the explicit Truth of light that which in opaque shadow is implicitly Truth.

Even in near mystical experiences of supposed loss of prejudiced and preconceiving understanding one finds the account that the unconcealment of things never before even recognized as concealed are only recognized as unconcealed because reason recognizes they were indeed concealed in shadows that we are so used to that we do not think of them as requiring any examination. The unconcealment, however, is itself the concealing of a new concealment. That shadow has not been brought to light, but itself shines as light so bright as to turn the light that cast it itself into a shadow. The light itself is as blinding as a shadow if not comprehended; it is one dogma traded for another. The comprehension of this very process necessarily conceals in experience while unconcealing in concept. The living complex body explicitly manifests its unity, it is this explicit complexity of entities and their actions and relations, yet in being this it necessarily shoves this complexity under the shadow of intuitive and functional familiarity which is unconsciously known yet consciously forgotten. Not only are all former unconcealed lights concealed in the greater unconcealment, an even greater shadow is cast.

The cunning of reason leads to unconcealment only to conceal once more; it is lethe and aletheia. It conceals in two ways: First by outshining its last moment of Truth, by removing from it its regal importance and showing it to be a moment of something else, by showing something greater and more important, something more worthy of the attention of consciousness as a whole, it casts its prior lights into shadow by encasing it in its substantive shell; second, by casting a further shadow beside it as its own new reflex. Just as childhood is important, yet childishness is nothing of interest or importance to the adult, so too do epochs and their Truths become enshadowed by the advance of Reason over the march of ontological as well as historical history. Just as we do not see atoms because they have no immediate practical purpose for us as immediate human individuals, so too do more basic truths become concealed when our minds have higher matters to attend to. Who believes that we should spend decade after decade reinventing the wheel so as to not forget its significance? Who believes that we should learn the entire drama of mathematical foundations to appreciate our modern mathematical achievements? Exceedingly few. For everyone else it is taken as given that these issues are past and their results are to be used for generating new achievements. The Truth simply is this or that which has become the social dogma, its internal complexity hidden in opaque shadows which are not even recognized as present until one is forced to lift the veil to peek inside. In this way one Truth is deepened until it reaches crisis, its shadows made to shine once more with the light of thinking, and it creates a new foundation to deepen again and under which it conceals a whole history of shadows in a box of memories opened every few epoch defining decades.

Truth

The Truth as such, the Idea, and particularly the Absolute Idea is the final unconcealment of concealment itself. It is explicitness of all implicitness which includes the understanding of the experiential reality and necessity of implicitness. Nature is the ultimate concealment, mind or Spirit the ultimate unconcealment, for with Nature the operations of intellect become unconscious objects which simply act out their operative thought. The human body and brain is likewise determined: what at first requires conscious step by step focus, clarity, and intelligible construction at some point becomes simply what it is and does, thought is hidden and becomes operative under a shadow of the unconscious which cognizes freely and nebulously outside the clear aims of consciousness.

Only Philosophy remains as activity which cannot fall into the unconscious shadow, for its demand for self-justification forces it to make explicit all concepts within itself as a public exercise. Once cognisant of the Truth as such, of the prior progression of concealing unconcealments which the understanding is mired in, there is not further concealment for thought. As such, it is absolute aletheia, and reason requires of itself no more cunning to guide existence towards its end of freedom, rather it is fully explicit purpose, cognition, and activity which guide themselves towards this ultimate end.