PSCI 2014 Ontological Conceptions I & II
PSCI 2014 Ontological Conceptions I & II PSCI 2014
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by windwalkerr on Friday February 19, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSCI 2014 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University taught by Rohan Kalyan in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 45 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Political Theory in Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
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Date Created: 02/19/16
Ontological concerns 2.16.16 Ontological concerns II 2.18.16 4 philosophical assumptions 1. Ultimate reality 2. Human nature 3. Images of society 4. Epistemological foundations What is real? The ultimate reality is material/physical ideational: not physical world that we experience with senses, but rather world of ideas & thought mystical spiritual ontological beliefs shape our politics Schumaker argues that stronger ontological beliefs lead to less flexible politics, more ideologically rigid Ontologies Platonist/idealist ontology → Plato’s theory of forms Holistic ontology →Wilbur (expanding, transcendental consciousness) Representational/idealist ontology→ Rousseau (General Will) Materialist/Marxist ontology: (Marx & Engels (dialectical materialism Darwinism/evolutionary ontology →Darwin (natural selection) In response to Darwin: ethical ontology → Huxley (survival of most ethical) Postrepresentational ontology: Butler (performativity). She’s a feminist Plato, The republic (360 BC) Student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle Socrates was executive for “corrupting the youth” (questioning world of representations, distrust of empirical world) Plato’s theory of the forms: unmistakably political edge, distrust of demos, representative, empirical world Ideal/Spiritual Ontology Two separate realms: o Sensory world: changing, imperfect, temporary Visible (senses) Everything we sense in visible world is but imperfect manifestation of its eternal essence o Ideal world: perfect, unchanging, eternal (the intelligible (ideas) We come from ideal world & return to it after death Hierarchy of consciousness Forms, abstract understanding → philosopher king Mathematical realities, reasoning → scientists, philosophers Objects of sense → citizens/reps Ontological concerns 2.16.16 Ontological concerns II 2.18.16 Implications of Platonism We must measure visible world according to ideal world in order to judge & evaluate it (beginning of normative thought, moral & aesthetic judgment). Even if ideal world is impossible, it remains valuable as “regulative ideal” > ideas of goodness, virtue, justice, morality, etc. Birth of metaphysics: physical world itself isn’t perfect o Metaphysical is where true reality exists Ullam, “Ascending & Descending theses of gov’t” Platonism as example of descending theory: original (ultimate) power/reality is located in supreme being, God, clergy, theocracy Ascending theory: original power is located in ppl/populist ontology Rousseau “on the General will” Populist/rep ontology General will is common good that unites “body politic” guided by justice Based on equality, direct democracy, & genuine freedom o Differs from Hobbes & Locke Social contract o Unlike Hobbes, unlike Locke More utopian than practical (or justification of status quo) Engels, “Marx’ Materialist Conception of History” Argues against Hegel’s idealism: o Ideas are foundational to actual states o History is progression/dev of actual states to absolute idea/end of history Marx’ inversion of Hegel’s Idealism o Replaces idealist w/ materialist ontology o How wealth is produced & distributed in society is causal determinant of whatever ideas happen to be dominant o Ruling ideas of every age are always ideas of ruling class o Levels of reality: Base (mode/relations of production) Superstructure (ideas/ideologies) Freemarket capitalism & liberal democracy Contradictions between means of production & ruling class Scientific socialism studies these contradictions & politicizes them Superstructure always lags behind base Implications of this: revolutionary pol must focus on economic/material base, not superstructure Capitalism is productive but wasteful; socialism will be scientific & ideal (return to Plato) Ontological concerns 2.16.16 Ontological concerns II 2.18.16 Ontological concerns II Darwin “Natural Selection” Ontology of difference, change, & variation even within similar groups. Human selection: breeding of plants & animals (limited by our perceptions/interests Natural selection: survival of fittest (unlimited, shaped by the cosmos, meaning outside of our control) Geological materialism Planetary time → indifferent to humans o Evolutionary o We can’t control it Superstructure → living beings Base → planet earth, matter, gravity Isolation is bad for any species bc they are more at risk Huxley “Evolution & Ethics” Natural selection is an amoral, cosmic process; not that it is bad, but it exists outside of morals o Nature is indifferent to our emotions, exists outside of our influence Humans transpose human characteristics to animals in an attempt to understand Human selection is moral; not just good/bad, but useful o Shaped by human perception, language, desire **argues against social Darwinism Human evolution isn’t survival of the fittest but survival of most ethical o The survival of all The more advanced the civilization, the less natural selection matters Herbert Spencer & Social Darwinism Evolution guides natural, social, & human processes Societies are organisms that adopt, change & survive like others Social progress happens naturally, w/o need for human intervention (“survival of the fittest”) Takes visible (racial) differences & gives them social meaning → eugenics, Plato’s cave Dubois “Soul of Black Folk” Ellison “Invisible Man” (1952) They’ll only see me as a black man, not as a person Fanon “Fact of Blackness” Proposed that “blackness” isn’t a selfcreated identity, but one that is thrust upon individuals categorized as black people Fanon describes blackness as a social uniform which functions as a means to set apart & ultimately alienate blacks o He characterizes this phenomenon as the fact of blackness Ontological concerns 2.16.16 Ontological concerns II 2.18.16 A black man isn’t a slave of an idea that people have of him, but of his own appearance He argues that blackness is a constructed identity that exists for the purpose of distinguishing between black & white o Fixed image Fanon was born in Martinique (19251961) o Trained as a psychiatrist in Paris o Joined Algerian side of the Algerian war for independence from France o Black skins, white masks (1952) Ontology doesn’t permit us to understand the being of a black man. o Must be black in relation to white man
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