ISSO – International Summer School in Ontology (some comments)

I respect Terrence Blake. He has a capacity for thinking upon things that I do not. I am limited in my thinking.

Here is a small query essay that I posted as a comment on his post. I respect what I would call ‘the common humanity’ effort, that is based in and seeks to help the most people as possible. I respect that route.

But I am more about those who cannot be helped, or rather, those who are outside the purview of the proposed effort that addresses everyone.

Here is my comment that addresses this issue as it seems non-philosophy can be concerned.
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I wonder if you are familiar with the theoretical-theological basis of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Without getting into the issue of the specific problem of alcoholism and any proposals of solution, I will offer you a synopsis of the foundation of AA as it appears to relate to your issue. I hope you might be able to see the correlation I see.


AA began upon the General Christian notion of saving grace and the idea that one must get admit the issues of oneself in order to gain this grace. AA can be said to be a direct descendent of the Oxford Group, that arose in the late 19th century; it proposed to deal with the overwhelming and unsolvable problems of individual people.


There are 2 recognized founders of AA: Bill Wison and Doctor Bob Smith. The Book of AA, and thus its solution, says that alcoholism may be relieved by the grace of a higher power (God).


The relevance to your essay is with the experiences of each of these men and how AA came to endure as the program we know today.


Bill Wilson, who wrote the book 20 years after its founding, who was encouraged by the other members to do so, had a sudden spiritual experience that relieved him of his alcoholism.


Dr. Bob, as he is called, did not have such a sudden experience but instead had to struggle with the desire to drink, as he admits, for 2 and a half years, during which time, as he reports, he worked what will become the ‘program’ of AA, the 12 Steps that he and Bill had taken and adapted from the Oxford Group’s 6steps, but at the time, they just had ideas and the Bible. I will list these just as a curiosity (the 12 steps are well known):


1) complete deflation
2) get honest with self
3) get honest with another
4) make amends
5) help others without expectation of return
6) pray


The significance of these steps and AA in general to your idea that non-Phil may be a process rather than a state is similar to the foundation of AA.


The message of AA as Bill Wilson would have it, as noticed in their book, is that the alcoholic condition can be removed. It is clear that Bill did get the idea of ‘coming clean to God’ from a friend of his who was an Oxford Group member, but there is no real indication that his alcoholic condition had been removed because of any Steps. Bill reports that he was in the hospital and had an experience that removed his desire to drink, a condition that had never existed before, i.e. he would always end up drinking.


Bill met Bob on his first business trip after he got sober. He was bored one evening and alone, and was worried that he would drink and so decided to use the Oxford Group’s idea of helping someone in order to not drink. He found Bob by calling church directories and asking if anyone knew an alcoholic he could talk to.


They met. They talked at length. Doc Bob though Bill had some good ideas but that’s all. It was not until he drank again that he real considered the Bill might have something. Then the two of them stuck together and went to hospitals to find alcoholics that needed help and read the Bible.


The point I am trying to make is that AA is founded upon 2 apparently different types of experience. Bill who’s condition (state) had been fundamentally altered, and that no method or process was responsible. Doc Bob had no sudden relief of his alcoholism; he had to trudge daily in a struggle not to drink, but that in doing their thing, he emerged over time having the urge to drink removed.


It is the Doc Bob experience that the overwhelming preponderance of alcoholics in the program know and adhere to as the ‘program’ of AA, and it is really the Doc Bob idea, experience and application that is responsible for the appeal and continuance and endurance of AA.


Hence, there is a simmering but ongoing issue within AA. On one hand, there is the ‘God of your own understanding’ idea, where basically ‘all is good’ so song as you want to stay sober and are trying to. This amounts to the entirety of the ‘self help’ reduction common to the whole meeting-recovery-psychology process.


On the other hand, there is the “fundamentalist” ideal that sees the point of the steps as a spiritual awakening of the type that suddenly removes the condition of alcoholism. And that the Steps just need be applied correctly and rigorously.


Of course, I hope you can see how each of these approaches lend themselves to a general confusion that inevitably leads back to the ‘it’s all good’ premise.


The point I intend to enlighten is that the state is not the method, but it is the method that always wants to include, explain or otherwise reduces the state to its, the method’s, domain. This is such that case that even those who might have an inkling of the state, still attempt to methodologically reduce the state to a proper methodological situation.

AGENT SWARM

International Summer School in Ontology coming soon: 24-29 August 2015, Grado, Italy: “Six days course with six leading philosophers addressing the contemporary debate on ontology”.

There is a very interesting line up: Giorgio Agamben, Francesco Berto, Ray Brassier, François Laruelle, Paul Livingston, Davide Tarizzo. Some pdf summaries of lectures are already available on the academia.edu page.

The titles of Laruelle’s lectures are:

1) Introduction to Non-standard philosophy

2) Marx with Planck. For a quantum Marxism

Some people might be puzzled at the very idea of François Laruelle participating in a Summer School on “ontology”. After all, he is known for a position that sharply limits the utility of traditional philosophical vocabulary, and that seeks to propose more satisfactory vocabularies. I argue that this concern is more semantic than substantial, an instance of a new logophobia,. This context-blind attachment to words would impede cross-continental understanding if allowed to flourish unchallenged.

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