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Saturday, August 26, 2017


Having managed to complete the NY TIMES crossword puzzle this morning, I idled some time away watching the third lecture on Ideological Critique that I recorded some time ago and put up on YouTube.  In that lecture, as a wrap-up to my exposition of Karl Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia, I went through his account of the ideology of time-consciousness, which I think is the most brilliant bit of ideological analysis I have ever read.  Then, in the lecture, I offer my own analysis of the ideology of space-consciousness, a natural extension of Mannheim's theory for a Kant scholar like me.  Needless to say, my bit of analysis cannot hold a candle to Mannheim’s but it isn’t bad, and I watched myself with that innocent narcissistic pleasure that an infant gets from contemplating his own feces.

I had totally forgotten the conclusion of the lecture, however.  Without warning, I cut at the very end of the lecture to a clip of the immortal Pete Seeger singing that old union song, “Which Side Are You On?”  I have to tell you, it brought tears to my eyes.  Those were better days, when I was young, despite the evils of segregation, the oppression of women, and the criminalization of gay Americans.


s. wallerstein said...

I suppose that your last sentence about those being better days, in spite of segregation, etc., evinces a subtle irony, undecipherable to those under 65, which reflects on how for us old people the best days are those when we had the energy to struggle against social evils with the illusion of youth that we would soon triumph, when a simple song could sum up our youthful state of mind, etc.

Hearing Seeger sing "Which side are you on?" or Dylan sing "Chimes of Freedom" also brings tears to my eyes. Just the other day trying to explain the battle of Dunkirk (there's a movie about it) and the British resistance to the Nazis to a young man who had no idea of what they were about also choked me up with tears.

I was not a sentimental young man nor, I would bet, were you. What is the mechanism by which non-sentimental young men get transformed into sentimental old ones? That is a genuine question for me.

decessero said...

here is the lecture:

Carl said...

"Managed to"? I thought you had good luck with Saturdays while Fridays were your bane.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

For some mysterious reason, Friday's paper was delivered without the section containing the puzzle!

Unknown said...

So I read the blog daily/weekly, but I rarely comment. However I've been thinking of doing so for a few weeks so here goes...

I rewatched all the Ideological Critique Lectures a couple weeks ago (I initially watched them over last summer while doing landscaping work-- mixing some good mental labor with the physical). Last week after I finished the lectures I decided to get Mannheim's book and sink my teeth into it. I got the 1936 edition with the preface by Louis Wirth, also translated by Wirth and Shils. I found so many bits just in that preface that are applicable to today's sociopolitical climate:

"Whereas the intellectual world in earlier periods had at least a common frame of reference which offered a measure of certainty to the participants in that world and gave them a sense of mutual respect and trust, the contemporary intellectual world is no longer a cosmos but presents the spectacle of a battlefield of warring parties and conflicting doctrines. Not only does each of the conflicting factions have its own set of interests and purposes, but each has its picture of the world in which the same objects are accorded quite different meanings and values. In such a world the possibilities of intelligible communication and a fortiori of agreement are reduced to a minimum" (pp. xxv-xxvi)

I assume that most of the men on this blog are well educated (in the university sense) and somewhere on the left side of the political spectrum (probably more than a few on the far left, and I would position myself somewhere in between the left and far left). But save for my dad, whose open mindedness allowed him to take in all the things I learned in college and during grad school that I relayed to him, thus moving him from being a Right-ish Libertarian to a left leaning Bernie supporter at age 58, my entire family and effectively everyone in my hometown county/community (Union County/Monroe, roughly 45-50 minutes outside of Charlotte, NC) is a Trump supporter to the full extent (They're also just heavily conservative and religious generally, so 'they' all usually go to whoever is on the right). So one of my foundational questions is, how does one most effectively get the ideas written by Wirth, and those of Mannheim, yourself, etc, to people in my hometown (or people LIKE the people in my hometown)?

It took me graduating college, taking a gap year, going back to graduate school, getting up the courage to take Michael Pendlebury's 400/500 Kant CPR course (supposedly the hardest humanities course offered at NCState), have him reference your book, then after talking about it, he gave the class (only five-six people) your blog, me reading the blog from January of 2016 to last summer when I listened to the YouTube lectures, to come into contact with these ideas that explain so much and make sense of so many things. I like to THINK that had I been introduced to them earlier I would have taken to them earlier-- a counterfactual no doubt, but still, the idea that I could have taken to them earlier motivates and inspires me.

Unknown said...

(continued from my above comment as I had hit the character limit)

I appreciate all of the commentary you give, and comments all of the normal contributors give. It truly is stimulating. But it seems (to my complete and utter disdain) futile, when I go 'back home' and talk to anyone. They have no regard to hear philosophy or sociology, much less epistemology or sociology of knowledge. So does anyone try to think about how best to communicate and engage the people that they least agree with and MORE SO don't even share the same conceptualization of objects and their meanings with? I know we all can have a tendency to write off conservatives, evangelicals, Trump supporters as uncanny, stupid, backwards, immoral, regressive, etc, but being from the southern rural areas I am from, I see and know the good mixed up with all the bad in these peoples' lives and ideologies. There has to be a way to reach them and it be effective in SOME way.

I'd love to hear your and anyone else's thoughts on whatever you can discern from my babbling.

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