Re: humanising post humanism (was Re: In defence of humans)

>> They must of, mostly they have been avoided, while respondends have picked
>> over the more marginal and peripheral of my comments. Also, when in doubt,
>> use the obscurant pomo language, to problematize understanding.
>I think this last bit gets to the root of the misunderstanding (which is
>now almost becoming ritualistic).

Unfortunately, I think you are right about the ritualism of the debate over
the past few posts.
I have found the discussion highly useful, but also challenging. It is easy
to argue that my want/need to "do" is a part of the job I hold. I have very
complex feelings about the very very (in Australia, small-l) liberal agenda
the Government pursues, and which the opposition would also pursue if it
were in government. I readily acknowledge that we (policy people) always
simplify (as opposed to problematize) the social problems we choose to
solve. Even the process of deciding that some domain, is a social problem
and another is not, is problematic. I acknowledge that in the past our
actions have always imposed a way of thinking on others (by definitiuon). I
am dumbfounded to think that my worldview has been socially constructed,
that it is constantly contested, and that I am both a witness to and a
participant in the processes of contest. As you can see, in all this I am
absolutely fascinated by postmodernist modes of thinking.

However, I am not an academic; and my mortgage keeps me trapped in my
current employment (more structures). I was serious when I asked what would
a postmodernist do in my job (assuming he/she would accept). I am also
interested in the *why* of their response to larger "ethical" issues, such
as rape, genocide or ecological vandalism. I agree there is a dialectic to
be found. And that makes me uncomfortable.

If this all seems a little rambling and unfocused, I am sorry, I am
struggling to find plainer language in which to express the anguish I feel.
Unfortunately, I suspect I am being accused of wasting your (plural) time;
and as our interactions have become a little ritualistic, I will withdraw to
think more about the kind of dialectic that allows me to move forward.

>Speaking as one of the "pomo" people,
>what you see as the marginal and peripheral can also be seen from "our"
>perspective as the very heart of the issue, especially when it is a
>battle over concepts (which is where "we" do much of our cultural work).

>As Nancy Fraser has argued in her wonderful UNRULY PRACTICES a lot of
>contemporary political theory and ACTION is a matter of arguing over what
>is important and what marginal.

Can you post me a more detailed refernce, this sounds like it is very
relevant to my thesis.

>Bryan, I think you keep on ignoring that
>this is the heart of the pomo argument. We are not neglectful of the
>important issues, obscuring it behind jargon--we are arguing that the
>important issues are different than the ones you think are important.
>(And as Richard Rorty would argue, there is no neutral vocabulary to decide
which is more important; there are only the two or more competing vocabularies).

I know it sounds very liberl/pluralist, but in Western liberal democracies,
governments act as arbitrators in these contests (and not for one minute do
I think they are impartial or conscious of this process). Their actions and
decision shift power balances, legitimise some discourse, discredit others.
I am not saying this is good, but I am grappling to see the alternative.
The post structuralist critique is very interesting but ultimately not much

>On the other hand, I think I can understand your frustration. The sort
>of cultural work that poststructuralists do (subverting concepts,
>performing revaluations) isn't the only kind of work to be done (as "we"
>sometimes suggest--but mind you, it is still work, very hard work at
>times). And this sort of work, I imagine, often seems irrelevant, even
>unhelpful to the sort of work that you want to do.

Erik, there is a glimmer of hope that there is some way I can (at least for
myself) appropriate some of what I find in the rich land of postmodernism,
to achieve (again for myself at least) the dialectical understanding you
speak of at the end of your note.

>I would agree that it can be unhelpful (if expediency, pragmatic
>efficiency, even a feeling of basic agency) is what you are after (I
>don't understand these terms pejoratively), but I would strongly disagree
>that "our" interjections and underminings are irrelevant or marginal.

>Their job, in
>my mind, is to subltly alter (not, to be sure, determine) the course of
>the sort of work you want to do.

Why "subltly alter" but not "determine"? Why change at all? I feel I am
being teased (no insult implied). You have said elsewhere that
poststructuralism is reformist.

> I guess what I am trying to move toward
>is some sort of dialectical understanding. Any dialectic does not leave
>the initial sides intact. But you know what, THAT'S OKAY. My
>Foucauldianism can use some growth (Foucault would approve); social
>policy can use some redirection, even if preceeded by the disorienation
>that an encounter with a Foucauldian might bring.

I can heartily agree with you here.

By the way, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and
discuss my difficulties.

Bryan Palmer
Canberra - Australia's National Capital


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