Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Someone actually said this: Pure reason as a construction

In case you've wondered what deep thoughts are pondered in humanities departments, as reported by that ne plus ultra of journalistic excellence, The New York Times, I have exciting news for you. The newspaper of record has interviewed John D. Caputo, the Thomas J. Watson professor of religion emeritus at Syracuse University and David R. Cook professor of philosophy emeritus at Villanova University, who shares the following insights:
Postmodern theory tries to interrupt that expression [of referring to "we" with no analysis of who "we" are] at every stop, to put every word in scare quotes, to put our own presuppositions into question, to make us worry about the murderousness of “we,” and so to get in the habit of asking, “we, who?” I think that what modern philosophers call “pure” reason — the Cartesian ego cogito and Kant’s transcendental consciousness — is a white male Euro-Christian construction.
Someone's still appealing to postmodernism? Greetings, time traveler from the nineties. Also, are we sure that it's "pure" reason, not postmodernism, that's "a white male Euro-Christian construction"?

So what is the professor's proof that "pure" reason is a white male Euro-Christian construction?

White is not “neutral.” “Pure” reason is lily white, as if white is not a color or is closest to the purity of the sun, and everything else is “colored.” Purification is a name for terror and deportation, and “white” is a thick, dense, potent cultural signifier that is closely linked to rationalism and colonialism. What is not white is not rational. So white is philosophically relevant and needs to be philosophically critiqued — it affects what we mean by “reason” — and “we” white philosophers cannot ignore it.
What's that thing called again when you postulate what you're trying to prove? It has "reasoning" in its name, but it's not the good kind of reasoning. Also, I suppose that wanting pure anything is now the moral equivalent of ethnic cleansing.

Then there is this:

The trigger-happy practices of the police, not all police, but too many police, on the streets of black America should alert everyone to how profoundly adrift American democracy has become — attacking the poor as freeloaders and criminals, a distorted and grotesque ideological exaggeration of freedom over equality.
Nothing says "ideological exaggeration of freedom" like trigger-happy police.

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