“Weapons-Grade Philosophy”

We were discussing art, philosophy, and national character in the last post.  I know, I know, that’s pretty damn pretentious for a post that ends with a picture of Batgirl, but it’s true for all that.  Contrariandutchman came up with the phrase “weapons-grade philosophy” to describe the stuff that Europeans seem so good at — and so good at keeping contained — that we poor Colonials aren’t, and don’t….

…or maybe not.  Either way, to talk about this stuff, we need some definitions.*  I propose the following:  Art is an attempt to say something true about the human condition.  Philosophy is an attempt to discover the Truth in itself.

Trite?  I suppose.  But it’s a start.  For one thing, it gives us a relatively “objective” measure for determining both if a given piece is art (philosophy), and, if so, is it good or bad.  For example, this:

It’s art, and it’s bad.  It’s art because it is trying to say something true about the human condition.  It’s bad art, not because of any flaw in the artist’s technique, but because what it’s trying to say is false.  Just as one drop of raw sewage turns even a barrel of the finest wine into sewage, so even the most technically excellent art is mere propaganda if it doesn’t say something true.

Obviously this means comprehensibility is key, and this is where “weapons-grade philosophy,” like Modern art, loses a lot of us.  Just as I can’t tell what the hell the artist is trying to do here

I can’t make heads or tails out of Hegel, or Heidegger, or the whole lot of Froggy Incomprehensibles.    If nothing else, then, their works are bad philosophy, since the Truth is accessible to all rational minds.

[And here’s where the drive-by neckbeard chimes in: “How do you know it’s bad if you don’t understand it?  Maybe you’re just to stupid to see blah blah blah.”  Stow it, Junior.  I spent a lot of years in grad school; I speak at least Conversational PoMo.  More to the point, I understand the “for Dummies” presentation of their thoughts just fine… and the fact that an educated person needs a “for Dummies” presentation confirms that there’s something seriously wrong with their philosophy.  Nietzsche, for instance, said everything Foucault said, and while the Manly Mustache Man’s conclusions might be hard to stomach, no educated person has ever had the slightest difficulty with Nietzsche’s prose.  Foucault’s stuff is bafflegab, stem to stern].

This not to say there’s nothing to Hegel et al.  It’s a cheap joke that there’s no opinion so absurd, that some philosopher has not held it, but it’s not true.  Every philosophy has a kernel of Truth in it.  Just to stick with one name, Hegel was on to something with that thesis-antithesis-synthesis stuff.  The Logical Positivists would have you believe that there are only three ways thought can go wrong: Contingent falsity, self-contradiction, and meaninglessness.  But the most level-headed of the Logical Positivists wrote a wonderful essay disproving that, and he ends up throwing his hands in the air: “Hegel just is different from Plotinus, and again from Foucault, and so on.”

The reason this stuff matters is: “Weapons-grade philosophy” has broken containment.  Contrariandutchman notes that Europeans generally don’t have a problem with this stuff — guys like Foucault, Camus, et al fairly obviously don’t take their own bloviation seriously (Camus, you’ll recall, is the guy who spent a lot of his long, rich, famous life proclaiming that the only real question in philosophy is suicide.  Life is so obviously pointless, this celebrity proclaimed, that if we were consistent we’d simply off ourselves.  Camus died in a car crash, on his way to his publishers’).  The problem is, guys on Europe’s fringes do take this stuff seriously — Lenin and Barack Obama, just to name two.  For guys like that, absurdity is a feature, not a bug, of Continental philosophy.

Are there any worthwhile American philosophers, under the definitions I’ve suggested?  Any great American artists?  I dunno, but we’d better find some — as we slide further and further into decadence, the more appealing this kind of nonsense gets.  We need to chase it back across the Atlantic, where Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys and their enablers can play around with it for as long as Monsieur le Taxpayer is willing to foot the bill.  It’s weapons-grade, all right — this stuff will get you killed.  Ask any kulak.



*Did you know Ayn Rand her own self once tried to come up with an Objectivist aesthetics?  Seriously — I came across a battered old copy of The Romantic Manifesto somewhere in the university stacks back in grad school.  It’s as hilarious as it sounds.  I love bringing it up to Libertarians.
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12 thoughts on ““Weapons-Grade Philosophy”

  1. MBlanc46

    One of the classic definitions is “thought turning back upon itself”. For theoretical philosophy at least, I like “exploring at and just beyond the boundaries of current knowledge”. In defense of the Continentals, they are trying to understand the world while taking into account the fact that we are situated within the world. I’m pretty sure that they’ve gone down the wrong path, but it’s an important point that too many Analytical philosophers pay insufficient attention to.

  2. Rod1963

    We undoubtedly have men and women who have the chops to be great artists but the problem is only trash gets promoted in the galleries and other public venues. The monied class funds hacks and degenerates like Annie Sprinkle and the degenerate who did the crucifix in urine or the talentless hack who thought putting a giant boulder in front of the Los Ange;les MOMA was a artistic expression.

    The bad drives out the good. Furthermore the monied/ruling class hates our guts, they are not interested in bringing the masses the best of our culture. Renaissance era Italian nobles trying to beautify their cities they are not.

    Most of them are at best are educated savages compared to the men who came before them.

    Another problem. Classical sculpture, music and painting is a white people thing. It’s not something that will get you kudos from our diverse community of low IQ ethnics who have no interest in such things or city hall when instead of say Mexican hat dancing or some scrap iron welded together that represents “our collective angst or stomach issues” will get you praised.

    Philosophy wise, I’d be happy to see a revival of Stoicism and Epicurus. Just blow off the obscurantist European gasbags with their turgid prose altogether.

  3. Recusant

    Far be it from me, as an Englishman, to offer my praise of American artists, but there is nothing, nothing, wrong with the works of John Singer Sargent or James McNeil Whistler. Obviously they had to park themselves on this side of the pond for people to notice, but still………..

  4. Skedastic Racket

    I’m reading The Dispossessed Majority by Wilmont Durant, over at Unz, and he says that art requires aristocracy, and the budding American aristocracy was interrupted. Hence our lack of artists.

    Whistler and Sargent, like T.S. Eliot, had to move away from America to become great, so I don’t think we can claim them. We do have the Hudson River school, if that hasn’t been mentioned.

    1. Severina

      I actually kinda like T.S. Eliot, but Catch-22 ruined him a bit for me. That scene where the commanding generals keep prank-calling each other, yelling “T.S. Eliot!” into the phone and then hanging up… classic.

      1. Ryan

        For the uninitiated, there’s a scene in Catch-22 where one general says to another “name me one poet who ever made money.” Ex-PFC Wintergreen is eavesdropping on their call and replies “T.S. Eliot.” The generals then think it’s all some grand conspiracy, but really T.S. Eliot never made money, he just worked at a mint.

  5. Al from da Nort

    Interesting essay by Stove. Pathetic in the non-drama sense of word. So the great American philosopher E A Poe was right. Too much pondering of ancient and forgotten lore leads to madness: Hearing scavenger birds talk and all that.

    To quote an even more ancient philosopher, ‘[philosophy] is a vanity under the sun’: “…fools are consumed by their own lips. 13 At the beginning their words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness— 14 and fools multiply words…” (Ecclesiastes 10:12 – 14)

    So why not accept the paradoxes of life, leave philosophy alone and get on with your business_? It’s the American way_!

    As that ancient philosopher says (Ecclesiastes 5:18) “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.”

  6. Jay Carter

    Philosophers have never answered the eternal question.

    “What is the purpose of life?”

    I’ll throw this into the ring: Maybe there is no purpose. Maybe we’re all here just to keep each other company.

  7. Morgan le fay

    Is there any chance you could explain the Core beliefs of Wiggenstein and Popper? I just wasted time reading the BBC’s version of their famous argument, and I’m as unenlightened as I was prior to picking up the book. I am however convinced that the Bankers Booster Club couldn’t explain the purpose of a hammer and a nail to anyone’s satisfaction.
    Contrary to BBC bologna, I don’t perceive any Big Boorish Investors making wagers based of the “Philosophy” of Wiggenstein and Popper. It does seem to be fueling the Messages the ruling Elite send out through their control of the media. Popper in particular may be key to the long term plans of the Globalists, so I think it might be valuable to know what he believed?

    1. Severian Post author

      I personally can’t make heads or tails of either of them. The late great David Stove wrote a whole book raking Popper et al over the coals, though, so those might help. There seem to be several titles, based on reprint and (maybe?) whether published in the US or not. They are: Popper and After: Four Modern Irrationalists; Anything Goes: Origins of the Cult of Scientific Irrationalism; and Scientific Irrationalism: Origins of a Postmodern Cult. Stove also has a short essay on these called “Anything Goes” that appeared in The Plato Cult.

      As for Wittgenstein, I’ve had the Routledge Guide sitting in my reading stack for quite a while. The whole series is for educated laymen; this particular layman finds them very useful, but I just haven’t had the ooomph to take on Wittgenstein yet. I’m sure if anyone can make sense of iit, though, the Routledge Guide can.

      Sorry I can’t help you further.

  8. Ryan

    At the risk of losing my cat fancier membership privileges, I never got the distaste on our side for Foucault. I’ve read a few of his books, and while I agree he’s longwinded as all hell, I think his analytical framework can be useful. For example, I can’t look at the transgenderism stuff going on today without seeing a discourse of power/knowledge compelling people to speak the truth of their gender. His theory about how modern day juridical power functions by multiplying the categories of identities and endlessly sifting people into them to me very well explains the ceaselessly expanding alphabet of LGBT et al. And their organization into hierarchies we call the Oppression Olympics? Yeah, that’s just how biopower rolls.

    I know I must seem crazy, but really, give every gender dysphoric teenager a copy of The History of Sexuality. Once they’ve read it ask them if they still think it’s a good idea to hang out on the transgender internet forums. I bet a whole lot of them would Xbox 360 that shit.

    1. Severian Post author

      Foucault has his uses. As I always say, there’s a kernel of truth in even the wackiest Leftist philosophy. But Foucault isn’t saying anything Nietzsche didn’t say, far better. And for me at least, Foucault is one of those annoying-person-alarm figures. If I hear anyone talking about Foucauldian this or that, I know to avoid that person.

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