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Philosophia: Love of Wisdom

Lately, my notions of philosophy has been shifting and I think it has some traction. Recent interaction with authors and cohorts suggests there has been break with the Socratic perspectives of philosophy, its love of wisdom, and movement towards an onanistic joy of theoretical systems (I am accusing no one who reads this blog of making that mistake).

Why describe it as onanistic joy?

Because only engaging (calculating?) the theoretical, that is to say the general or “universal” does not produce. It cannot be truly productive, i.e. productive in the world —there are certainly no fruits of love. It is nearly pornographic, looking at everything in general without recognizing the particular presented. One might (might, mind you) call it objectifying.

On the flip side, solely engaging the event, the happening, the singular experience in history does not simply do it  justice either. Firstly, to call each event singular, is to catch oneself in a generalization of a particular, that is to say commit a “contradiction” (in the most etymological sense: contra-diction). Secondly, to singularize the event would be to place it outside of the category of other events in such a way that it is utterly incomparable and each event, now singular, is also a nonevent (for to use a word is to speak in a generality). This, too, de-values (in its least economic sense) the event and rather than object-ify it creates a ghost, an almost non-thing.

For example:

To call a woman beautiful is to set her apart, to say she is other, that is, except-tional —she is a singularity. Yet, in order for this to have meaning, for the women to accept it as compliment, she must see herself as comparable to other women, still comparable in a way that is dis-comparable. There must be violence to be comparable but not too much violence lest the compliment lose its meaning.

It is in this space, between the universal and the particular, that one practices sophia, wisdom: a place where one may respect a thing’s or event’s uniqueness and its commonality without doing violence (or, at least, not too much violence). To be wise one must stand between, to see both with balance, which is to say act according to good judgment. It is an art to be practiced.