PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS ISSN 2043-0728
Issue No. 232
14th June 2019
From the List Manager
I. 'Fool's hope' by Geoffrey Klempner
II. Philosophizer's Bible on YouTube: final update
III. 'The Unconscious Creativity of the Spirit: the Absolute in Schelling' by Martin Jenkins
Readers of my recent books Philosophizer and Philosophizer's Bible will be aware that in a previous life I used to do paid gigs as a singer/ guitar player, which kept me in meals (and pints of beer) while I was finishing off my D.Phil thesis at University College Oxford in the early 80s.
Since then, months and even years have gone by without me even picking up my guitar.
However, recently, one of my former students, John Wrigglesworth, now a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, asked me if I would be interested in doing an open mic set at a local pub-brewery in Sheffield. The singing philosophizer! The set was a surprising success, and I received many compliments. You can catch a 59 second clip here:
(There's a possible title for a third book there, to complete the Philosophizer trilogy...)
That was at the beginning of May, just before I made the 32nd of 33 videos reading out chapters of Philosophizer's Bible. My long-time collaborator Richard Schain from the USA commented, 'Maybe you missed your vocation — but better late than never.'
Maybe you're right, Richard. I've done just about everything I set out to do in philosophy.
In this issue, I have reproduced the last chapter of Philosophizer's Bible, entitled 'Fool's hope', and also given the complete list of 33 videos with links, plus the playlist where all the videos are gathered together.
To complete the issue, Martin Jenkins has contributed his latest article, a very useful account of Schelling's philosophy of Nature, Life and Art.
(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2019
I. 'FOOL'S HOPE' BY GEOFFREY KLEMPNER
PICTURE the hero and heroine in a motel bedroom, early morning. Their last embrace. Pursuers are closing in, there's no possible escape. Yesterday evening you were spotted in your stolen car heading this way. And now they have you. It's only a matter of time. And yet, at this moment, this delicious moment, you imagine somehow that you could still break free from the tightening net, find some clever move, run and dodge... and make it to South America.
I've seen that movie countless times, or variations on the theme. The few moments of peace before the desperate final act. The good-natured camaraderie of the Alamo. Custer's heroic last stand. Jewish men and women crouching in alleyways or behind windows with their makeshift weapons at the start of the doomed uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto. A last kiss before Armageddon.
What is there left to do, when all hope is gone? Nothing. Everything. Slaughter the grey-uniformed thugs who have destroyed your world, as many as you are able. Enjoy the killing, relish the blood and burning flesh and the spilled guts — while you can. Go out in style!
One of the earliest lessons in the game of chess is about the futility of hope. 'Hope chess' is a loser's game. You hope that your opponent has not calculated more than two moves ahead. You hope that your moving your queen out so early in the game has taken your opponent by surprise. You've no idea whether your unsound mating attack can possibly succeed, but there's always the small chance that it will — and then you will have swindled the game.
Let's say that by any cool assessment your position on the board is untenable. You are only one pawn down, but there are too many undefended squares, your pieces are tied down. Each move you make worsens your position. Zugswang. Defeat is inevitable. It's a matter of pure logic. And yet... and yet...
— All this noise and gefuffle. Whatever we do, despite everything, each and every one of us is still going to die. 'All you do is head straight for the grave...'. Does it really matter how, or when?
If the Feds get you, the Feds get you. If you are in check and there is no safe place to move your king, no way to block the check, then you lose the game. It's called 'checkmate'. Those are the rules. Or, rather, not 'if' but 'when'. That's all there is or will ever be.
I am seeking an answer to the Question. There is no answer to the Question, no possible answer, for reasons I have already explained: no possible account of existence, of 'what what is is' could ever be 'deep enough, long enough, big enough'.
And yet I persist in my 'search'. Not because I 'hope against hope'. I have given up hope, renounced it completely. Religious mystics talk of 'seeing the face of God'. I see the face of the Question. I see into its unutterable depths. — While you see nothing, nothing but your familiar everyday surroundings. You are imprisoned in the mundane.
All hope is a fool's hope. You put your faith in some state of affairs that might, or might not come to pass at some time in the future. And when that time arrives, what then? Was it everything you expected it would be? Is 'success' all it's cracked up to be? Or winning a chess game? Or killing Nazis? How many Nazis would I have to kill before I had killed sufficiently many? There is no number. Not even if every German who has ever lived or will ever live is a 'Nazi', and they are all lined up in front of me.
I know, with absolute certainty, that there is nothing I can achieve because no mere 'achievement' would make me content. Let's say I have 'hopes for this book' (as an author would modestly say). How well would my book have to do to satisfy those hopes? If it was a best seller would that be enough? Number one on the nonfiction list? What if everyone in the whole country read my book? If my book became more popular than the Holy Bible? It still wouldn't be enough.
What is there, if there is no hope?
You need to stand back, get outside yourself, if only for a few moments, and see. Let go.
Either you have what you want now, at this very moment, or what you want is unattainable, regardless of all your futile imaginings. I'm not just saying, with Wittgenstein, that 'happiness is living in the present'. I didn't ask for 'happiness'. I don't give a hoot about happiness. I've already said what I want, and I'm tired of repeating myself: I want to be motivated. I need something to motivate me that isn't just some future state that I 'hope' for, like escaping justice or killing Nazis or being more popular than Jesus.
Just sitting here, at my typewriter, hitting these keys, watching the lines print out, is already ecstatic, in a small way. I am no longer just 'sitting' or just 'typing'. Meanings are being created in front of my eyes, meanings that I inhabit, that are me, and also not me. My 'extended self'.
With every passing moment that I philosophize, I grow, I become something more. I understand more, I see more.
Writing is part of the process, an essential part, of making myself better. I don't just mean in the sense of 'healing', and not in the sense of 'accomplishment' either. Though it seems paradoxical to say this, writing makes me more than I am.
I am the words you see written on this page.
I am writing myself.
For years, I have performed to an audience that was for the most part invisible. I blogged, I made videos on YouTube, I authored thousands of web pages. Not for the applause. I did this all for me. So that I could be 'more than I am'.
It worked, for a while. It did the trick — for a while.
Time moves on. There is no more need to perform, as I once did. Now I dance in silence. The music stopped hours ago and I didn't even notice. And now that I have noticed, I know, with absolute confidence and certainty, that I never needed the music in the first place.
- END -
That was the final chapter of my book 'Philosophizer's Bible' which is available on Amazon in Kindle ebook and in paperback.
(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2019
II. PHILOSOPHIZER'S BIBLE ON YOUTUBE: FINAL UPDATE
On 30th May I made the last of a series of 33 videos reading out and commenting on the 33 chapters of my book Philosophizer's Bible.
I am proud of the fact that I was able to stick to my schedule of one video every three days, come what may.
It has been a stimulating experience which has given me lots of new insights. The viewing figures are not that high but there has been a dedicated core of followers who have watched every video in the series.
If you are one of those diehards, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This project wouldn't have been possible without you.
In one of the videos (I forget which one) I state my opinion that Philosophizer's Bible is one of the most significant and original of all the philosophy books published in the 21st century. That might seem like wild hyperbole, but as I state in the video, I have the right to believe that. And say it too. You can make up your own mind!
Below is the complete list of 33 videos with links and dates. I will skip the summary descriptions, which can be found if you click the video link.
1 A new leaf https://youtu.be/XjkSR0LczvU (23 Feb 2019)
2 Fairground ride https://youtu.be/rPuH4ouvzdQ (26 Feb 2019)
3 Two tribes https://youtu.be/OmWLJ-p2U4o (1 Mar 2019)
4 Philosophy for apes https://youtu.be/_Qmip85bt8s (4 Mar 2019)
5 It's all about the wonder https://youtu.be/mmf1cFsmBZw (7 Mar 2019)
6 Magic spells https://youtu.be/hPbvAWSmfo0 (10 Mar 2019)
7 The swimmer https://youtu.be/xTiyIF8MjV8 (13 Mar 2019)
8 What is 'what is'? https://youtu.be/zH88E_6mb6c (16 Mar 2019)
9 Zombies https://youtu.be/p1wgNdaMsUk (19 Mar 2019)
10 Butter in the pan https://youtu.be/UOuZfQ-UsPE (22 Mar 2019)
11 Words have no meaning https://youtu.be/jEDDZoePJkI (25 Mar 2019)
12 The reckoning https://youtu.be/dl7O9uq8AjE (28 Mar 2019)
13 Tudor Square https://youtu.be/Gpn1cDbYOt0 (31 Mar 2019)
14 Things look funny https://youtu.be/deNYssSsllE (3 Apr 2019)
15 Infidel https://youtu.be/REgae-6Pm9w (6 Apr 2019)
16 Conundrums https://youtu.be/2RTF2zaTlVA (9 Apr 2019)
17 Locked corridor https://youtu.be/fRJ5Q63eBfA (12 Apr 2019)
18 Seeing my nose https://youtu.be/p0SV1HHMQLA (15 Apr 2019)
19 Size of the universe https://youtu.be/sF2e4ChU9Z0 (18 Apr 2019)
20 Things fall down https://youtu.be/8zt5VkO2dm0 (21 Apr 2019)
21 The world and I https://youtu.be/esiyVEtMIRA (24 Apr 2019)
22 Ring of power https://youtu.be/EAY4qRvM82g (27 Apr 2019)
23 Against God (and gods) https://youtu.be/Vnl8GqtHy3c (30 Apr 2019)
24 Balls https://youtu.be/TgbIsDUI-Bw (3 May 2019)
25 On 'writing' https://youtu.be/uVwlF6CGfy0 (6 May 2019)
26 Stretch that skull skin... https://youtu.be/tRtPVJHSkV0 (9 May 2019)
27 Punch bag https://youtu.be/ElXK1bgrByw (12 May 2019)
28 Rubber bands https://youtu.be/5L0PfJqbte4 (15 May 2019)
29 Vengeful ghosts https://youtu.be/lMbUWL3nKXk (18 May 2019)
30 Epiphany https://youtu.be/8b21YSUVuJY (21 May 2019)
31 Starship made of words https://youtu.be/_KyGuwaF1gY (24 May 2019)
32 Salvation https://youtu.be/N345Cta5o2k (27 May 2019)
33 Fool's hope https://youtu.be/FgYVk8U9Brw (30 May 2019)
YouTube Playlist: Philosophizer's Bible
Here are the links to my Amazon UK and US pages, where you can buy Philosophizer's Bible in paperback or Kindle format:
Amazon UK LINK
Amazon US LINK
Why not do yourself a favour and grab a copy. Or watch the videos. They are around 15 minutes each. The playlist is between 8 and 9 hours, if you have the time to spare.
(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2019
III. 'THE UNCONSCIOUS CREATIVITY OF THE SPIRIT: THE ABSOLUTE IN SCHELLING' BY MARTIN JENKINS
In his 1794 work The Science of Knowledge, J.G. Fichte employed the term 'the absolute I' (ich). This was confronted by the Not-I. 1 F.W.J. Schelling (1775-1804) initially embraced but subsequently modified these themes, developing a Nature Philosophy (Naturphilosophie) from the Not-I and, in his System of Transcendental Idealism (1800), a Transcendental Philosophy with the 'I'. Underpinning both is Absolute Identity, itself beyond human cognition. Nature is objective yet unconscious, the Self, Intelligence is subjective. Yet in all knowing, a concurrence of the two is necessary [...]
(c) Martin Jenkins 2019