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Mathieu Marion

This might just be tangential, but I find discussions of Heidegger's political views from a non French perspective somehow odd. Heidegger's philosophy has been central to much of French philosophy since the 1930s, including for heavily critical philosophers such as Lévinas, and that includes a lot of philosophers with an openly left-wing agenda, e.g. Derrida, since you mention him, and it is through this agenda that they had first an audience in the Humanities in the US, so that they are now gaining some credibility (with which I have no qualms) in philosophy departments. When you call for a metaphilosophical conception of philosophy that does not facilitate a politics of domination, hierarchy, and exclusion, then you speak of the reasons why philosophers such as Heidegger and Derrida are considered so important by many in the Humanities and philosophy. My point is that I find it odd, to say the least, that at the heart of this way of thinking one finds an antisemite and nazi. Heidegger's views are close to playing the role of absolute presuppositions here and this is why people get upset when they are called into doubt or even if one uses the fact that he was a antisemite/nazi to try and point to a difficulty. (I spare you here more on Althusser defending Stalin, Foucault Iran, etc., i.e., a bunch of supposed to be mere mishaps that show rather that these guys were simply ill-equipped to make intelligent political judgements.) One is then tempted to adopt their stance towards other metaphilosophical conceptions including the delirious one that analytic philosophy (which is confusion in France with philosophy in the "English language") is subservient to capitalism, American imperialism, etc. (There are many instances of this but a good starter, albeit from a "second couteau" is Dominique Lecourt's L'ordre et le jeu, but my point is that one does not need to know that stuff to pick on this prejudice). I think you are close to doing that yourself (your move seems to be to reduce, via Frege's antisemitism and a link with Hume the formal approach to "empire and patterns of systematic cultural exclusion"). But you ask "how one can develop a metaphilosophical conception that is proper to scientific philosophy that does not open the door to political abuses" : to my mind, it would be interesting in this vein of inquiry to focus on what may be called "cognitive virtues" or "values", e.g., that one should not contradict oneself, a robust notion of truth, one should write clearly, base one's conclsuion on evidence, etc. One may argue that these are needed for any attempt at avoiding "domination, hierarchy, and exclusion", but as it it turns out, the philosophers we are talking about simply sought to undermine these (Heidegger and Derrida both openly doubted the principle of non-contradiction, all the Nietzschean stuff on truth peddled by Foucault, etc.). One the other hand, these were fostered by the likes of Russell, Carnap, and recently Chomsky (Bouveresse once told me that in reply to his comment about the politics of Chomsky, Deleuze said : "Maybe but his science is right-wing" ; this speaks volumes to me). I'm just dropping the thought here, obviously the comment boxes are a bit small for this topic, both sensitive and fundamental, but my take is that this would be one way to try and reach a satisfactory metaphilosophical conception. Just my onw little take on these issues!

Eric Schliesser

Mathieu, you beg the question on the value of a robust notion of truth. (And, in fact, there is quite a bit of literature on expert-overconfidence. Maybe you should read up a bit?)
To treat Bouveresse as a useful guide to Deleuze is about as informative as treating Searle as a guide to Foucault (or Derrida)--if this is what you have in mind when you speak of "basing conclusion on evidence," I pass.

Mathieu Marion

ERic, there is a limit to what one can say a comment box, my views (on truth in particular) stand as they are. As for Bouveresse, he was reporting a conversation. Calling his personal integrity in question is not the best line of argument.

Eric Schliesser

I am not calling anybody's personal integrity into question; just suggesting that such (often interested) reports are not very good at conveying context and insight. And seriously, we should not treat Bouveresse as a guide to Deleuze's thought.

Mohan Matthen

Very interesting post, Eric. As Jared Diamond has observed, there was a period of time during which European technology made astounding leaps forward. At the height of that period, Europeans were inclined to think of themselves as superior to all others. Diamond works hard to show how this was, to an extent, fortuitous. But putting this issue aside, I wonder how much Hume's attitude to black and brown people was just an exemplification of European triumphalism, and different in kind from the vicious social exploitation of black people in 20 and 21c USA. (Of course, there is evidence against this in the footnote you link to, which seems to condone slavery.)

LK McPherson

"I am apt to suspect the negroes, and in general all the other species of men…to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation.... Not to mention our colonies, there are NEGROE slaves dispersed all over EUROPE, of which none ever discovered any symptoms of ingenuity…. In JAMAICA, indeed, they talk of one negroe as a man of parts and learning; but ‘tis likely he is admired for very slender accomplishments, like a parrot, who speaks a few words plainly."
--David Hume, “Of National Characters”

This is not "just an exemplification of European triumphalism." Hume's type of "attitude" was part and parcel of and not "different in kind from the vicious social exploitation of black people" in Europe and the U.S. (unless by "different in kind" is simply meant not exploitative in and of itself, which of course no mere attitude could be).

Eric Schliesser

Lionel, I am not sure I understand fully what distinction Mohan was trying to make. But it's worth noting (a) that Hume was an enemy of slavery. So, he did not condone all the forms of "vicious social exploitation of black people." I also think it is important (b) to be aware of the fact that there were also philosophers that rejected Hume's kind of racism--so, Hume's position is, 'part and parcel,' but not uncontroversial during the eighteenth century.

LK McPherson

Eric, my comment did not imply, and I do not think, that Hume condoned "all the forms" of vicious exploitation of blacks. Given the variety of vicious forms of exploitation there were and could be, condoning "all" of them would be strange and virtually absurd. Also, I'm well aware that some 18th-century philosophers rejected Hume's type of racism. I'm not sure why my comment prompted you to make that point. Maybe I'm not fully understanding what's going on here.

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