Tuesday, April 14, 2009
And yet, the range of her discussion suggests that sexual violence against women is not as simple as she suggests: it is not merely a tool, a method of control, or an entirely intended consequence. When non-Natives cannot be prosecuted for crimes committed on a reservation, it is also an issue of sovereignty, of funding and political interest. When the question of rape is considered relative to Native American cultures, it is also an issue of cultural relativism, tribal sovereignty, and marginalization. Thus, while her treatment of the issue is illuminating, the question of what to do is not made to appear simple; while this is realistic, it also ultimately makes action much more complex.
Monday, April 13, 2009
One must always be concerned whenever a philosopher attempts to utilize the will to power to justify any sort of an interpretation of Nietzsche, as they usually attempt to suggest that power is the motivating drive which guides moral action. Certainly, Nietzsche is quite interested in the expression of power within the moral sense, but his account is robbed of its nuance when all contradictions are removed in the attempt to make his account coherent. This much said, Hurka does not seem to fall into this as much as others, if only because he does not merely base his account on an oversimplified view of the will to power but also considers hierarchy and what he describes as Nietzsche's "maximax principle" (18). While others try to suggest that Nietzsche's is a personal account and use this as an excuse to ignore Nietzsche's antidemocratic principles in putting forth some sort of universal morality which has little basis in Nietzsche's thought, Hurka explicitly draws the conclusion that a morality based on Nietzschean principles would necessarily require others to ignore their own well being and focus only on the perfection of a few great individuals (20-21). This much said in favor of Hurka's argument, it seems unclear what exactly it means to value power in this sense; maximum power perhaps does not mean what it would imply. There is not only power over but power against. As suggested in the prior reading, overcoming requires obstacles and power requires its equal. Respect among equals is not a state in which one power bears over another but instead a state in which power sees its equal and accepts this, stands not in anger or conflict but respect. In this sense, Nietzsche's perfectionism is not so much a maximization of power as finding the power relation which accords with one's own, dominating the lesser to the extent that is needed but also recognizing the equal.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Mohanty’s article was rather illuminating, if a bet dense. I found her use of specific examples a particularly astute example of how a feminist can maintain a non-essentialist viewpoint while still believing in some form of globalized feminism. While some of the things she specifically said about the New World Order and the reproduction of patriarchy in the globalization of capitalism sometimes stretched credulity, her points were well taken and found a counter-model for the creation of a global feminism. Just as the capitalist effort succeeds in a foreign society by implementing a specific tactic (i.e.: producing food, products, etc.) by tailoring their methods according to the society, and foreign companies target consumers by not simply attempting to import their products wholesale but instead adapting them to the environment, so the feminist movement needs to adapt itself to specific circumstances, to take a pragmatic approach that attempts to understand the choices made by individuals in specific situations and the possibilities which they are able to consider. A prime example of this is found in her discussion of immigrant women working in the United States: the association of labor unions with white, working class American men has served to sour the image of the union to immigrant women, leading them to organize through church groups. Their alternative choice might seem questionable to the American feminist, inasmuch as churches seem to be yet another reflection of the very patriarchy that the women must hope to escape. Yet, practical choices must be made by these women, and organizing themselves in struggles allows them to claim it as their own, to gain consciousness of their position as a worker who is being exploited. Ultimately, different means are needed for each group of exploited workers, inasmuch as each situation is different; however, the struggle against oppression and the lack of recognition of the value of their work is one thing that all these women share in common, and the exchange of ideas, as long as it is not based on a hegemonic relationship, can do more good than harm and should be encouraged.
Both the ascetic ideal and the scientific ideal represent a turning away from appearance. Thus, the ascetic says “no” to the surface appearance, turns away from the body, and posits an ideal, a substratum behind things or some other essential element which can be found in all things. So follows science: an attempt is made to reach a perspective which is beyond perspective, an objective eye which is not corrupted by being embodied with a perspective, one which is pure and true. Thus, both search for “truth” and engage in the “will to truth”. And whence the will to truth? Here, it is illuminating to note that Nietzsche formulates the problem of the desire for truth as a “will to”, much as his will to power; it seems clear that the will to truth is a ruse, it is a move which is contains more than it says, it is a symptom of another sort of illness, a will to power, but one which does not necessarily lead to what is best for the creature. The value of truth is negative; the will to truth is the will to an illusion, but a dishonest one. It searches for origins where there are none, searches for objectivity and objective facts which are merely perspectives that have been given a greater standing than others and have been incorrectly universalized. The will to truth and the ascetic ideal stand for a turning away from the “truth” of reality (we must surely put the word in quotes when we are to use it thus) and its inherently perspectival and superficial nature; the will to truth is a will towards and unconscious self deception, a pacification of the self. Thus, the contrast for the ascetic ideal is art, the acceptance of pure artifice, of interpretation and creation, of the acceptance of will, of an excitation of the senses.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The largest apparent threat to the individual, in this essay, would therefore seem to be the limiting of liberty without legitimate cause, which results in an inability to live one's life as one would see fit; while coercion seem implicit in this, other forms of limitation of the individual life which are more indirect would likely also be considered threats to individual liberty. The limiting agent, society at large, therefore also appears as a dire threat, inasmuch as large groups of like minded individuals are capable of suppression of dissent and, hence, great injustice through the limitation of individual liberty.
This results in a further turn, however, one which Nietzsche laments: guilt becomes internalized and turned back against those who were originally creditors. Hence, slave morality becomes endemic (for there can be no doubt that the debtor is the slave, and hence, a reactive type) and ressentiment becomes the order of the day (section 21).
Monday, March 16, 2009
It is this requirement of opposing position that likely creates Nietzsche's animosity to the dialectic; for Nietzsche, we are not speaking of good or bad in morality except as it relates to other aspects of existence (survival, improvement, culture, etc.). As he states again and again, the very question of morality is to be considered, and here he considers the primary method by which the world is classed within morality and contrasts it with other historical examples. Whereas Hegel takes the Master-Slave connection to be one which leads to some sort of historically inevitable conclusion, Nietzsche would not support any such conception (let alone Hegel's apparent belief in a form of socialism establishing the conclusion of the Master-Slave conflict).