I deliberately used in the header of this post the title of Al-Ghazali's famous 11th century treatise which, effectively, shut down any legitimacy of deterministic causality in Islam, promoted by early Islamic philosophers such as Avicenna, and ensured the victory of Asharite school of thought. It also is in the foundation of overall backwardness of contemporary Ummah the scale of which most Western so called "scholars" simply fail to grasp. Yet, as much as The Incoherence Of The Philosophers cuts contrary to every single experience of modern West (Russia including in this case), the title itself is perfect. Here is why.
In times of Greek philosophers such as Plato it was, not taking away genius and incisiveness of their views and thoughts (Republic, anyone), truth is--life was primitive. Anyone with even average intelligence could, if he (she) would put some effort into it, grasp how the stone masonry was done, how the sword or spear were made, how sail worked--in all, with the exception of more advanced math, people would see and understand how things worked. Philosophers would know this too and then they will generalize what they saw and develop their own abstracts to describe what they saw. Great! We owe them a lot, to say the least--we owe them one of the major pillars of our culture.
Then, later on, things got a little dicey, more complex in terms of philosophy and Christian theology interacting with each-other but, in general, things remained pretty much the same as they were in Greece and Rome with Byzantine. Pretty much same sail ships, same swords, same masonry etc. The world for the most part remained in material sense very much unchanged. That is until Renaissance hits the fan, we get people of the immense scale such as Leonardo, and voila'--the world begins to progress really fast and is becoming increasingly complex in its material expressions, from printing press to powder and muskets with artillery. Suddenly, it stops being that simple for a laymen. The world outside begins to require for philosophers a grasp of very many complex things. Yes, ballistics required people of mathematical mind of Nicollo Tartaglia to describe. Algebra, physics, astronomy, mechanics became much much more complex and all this ends with Sir Isaak who invents calculus (real one, not the stone of the same name in ancient Roman empire). No wonder that most middle-age philosophers were primarily men of precise sciences, such as Rene Descartes. Make a note for yourself--people of Science, from Galileo to Copernicus, to already mentioned Descartes, to well, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. From there we get what Marx considered in Das Capital a key development--steam powered machines and belt transmission. Welcome to the dawn of the industrial capitalism and everything it brought us--it changed the face of the world, both in positive and negative ways, and made this world in the 20th century immensely complex. Complex as in laymen NOT being able anymore to grasp all laws and patterns behind increasingly complex material world.
Here we are, today, in the world of global communications, space travel, signal processing, mind-boggling weapons and warfare, robots, multi-axis CNC machining centers, nuclear energy, commercial airspace, lasers, computers etc. It is the world in which knowledge of how things work becomes crucial but it also becomes immensely difficult to obtain--because the way things work became immensely more complex than in the times of Aristotle and Descartes. Greek philosophers could get their minds wrapped around how Athenian economy worked or how Spartans fought, today, however, explaining to a modern philosopher what modern war is or how modern aircraft are created will be the waste of time. Unless a "philosopher" is a product of a comprehensive fundamental precise sciences or engineer background--any venturing into the actual workings of modern world for contemporary philosopher will be extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible. The spread is very simple--good level engineer, or scientist, can become a philosopher (in fact, many do--again, Carl Sagan, Hawking, Michio Kaku etc.), the opposite is usually impossible. Specially trained philosophers make very bad engineers, worse scientists, lousy military leaders and, not always good, electricians. That is why we had such things as The End Of History and Iraq War, and suicidal concept of multiculturalism--all products of modern "philosophers" who got simply lost in complexities of a modern world and are not capable to distinguish between information and knowledge.
Contemporary philosophy today is akin to a local jazz music festival where audience is hard pressed to recognize whether the band is really good or if it pretends to be good and hides behind complexities of jazz music.
In the end, BS can always pass as an incredible insight or some truth not "understandable" by mere mortals. And here is one such example, which fits perfectly my point (on Russia). In the magazine Questions (Issues) Of Philosophy, no less, real Ph.D in Philosophy, Boris Mezhuev waxes "intellectual" and comes up with this of ever so important question if Russia has her own civilizational code (in Russian). Here is English summary:
The analyses of the arguments and discussion of many conservative Russian publicists on the presence and existence of our country’s special “civilizational code”, which differs it from the West, is presented in the article. An attempt to rationally understand, what can be the sense of such type of thoughts, is conducted, as also the attempt to understand why does this topic earns to be considered by politologists and sociologists. The latter should in any case answer the question, if the newest western sociocultural innovations would be mastered and accepted by Russia, and if not, how can the resistance to changes be explained. The author bases on the intellectual conceptualization of the “Russian idea” in the history of Russian philosophy, on the school of Russian civilizational analyses from N.Ya. Danilevsky to V.L. Tsymbursky. He makes an assumption that “civilizational apartness” of Russia has its own spiritual prerequisites and tries to define, what they can be. The author’s main assumption presupposes, that Russian culture resists the common European trend of patriarchal decline in family, church and state. By itself this resistance can have both positive and negative consequences. However, it is obvious that exactly this indicates now, for which extent Russia’s claims for special civilizational status can be considered as real.
Unlike unhinged illiterate dumbfvck such as Egor Kholmogorov, who passes as "conservative thinker" (the guy dropped out of the first year of history in MSU--shows the level of "intellect") among some confused people, Mezhuev is bona fide philosopher with a lot of "scientific" credentials to back him up, including teaching position in Moscow State in the department of History of Russian Philosophy. So, Mezhuev goes full philosophical "retard" in the issue which is, indeed, important for Russia but while doing so, invoking all those great ghosts of important Russian thinkers such as Chaadaev, Kluchevsky--you name it. He arrives to this "philosophical" conclusion:
Если у России и существует некий особый «цивилизационный код», то он состоит в явном сопротивлении тренду на дискредитацию фигуры Отца-Царя-Бога, то есть в спасении основ патриархальной цивилизации, но в рамках христианства.
Translation: If Russia has any unique civilizational code, then it is in resistance to the trend on discrediting of Father-Czar-God figure, that is in saving of fundamentals of patriarchal civilization in Christian framework. Well, it is all fine and dandy and I actually agree here, but Mezhuev immediately makes this remark:
Собственно, сейчас, в эти годы, даже месяцы Россия тестируется на всамделишность ее многовековых претензий на «цивилизационную особость» – нельзя исключать, что идущие с Запада социокультурные инновации рано или поздно будут приняты и у нас, тем более что ресурсная база «внутреннего Запада» в России более значительна, чем материальные возможности всех потенциальных изоляционистов. Однако нельзя исключить, что в ближайшие уже годы мы увидим медленный дрейф российского общества в сторону принятия европейских стандартов: и в плане культурной открытости трансгендерам и сексуальной меньшинствам, и в виде изживания следов патриархальности в политике, культуре и религии. Это будет означать только одно: что Россия откажется быть цивилизацией, выбрав путь конформного приспособления к нормам Евро-Атлантики. Никто не поручится, что, в конце концов, Россия не изберет именно этот конформистский путь, который «внутренний Запад» назовет передовым, а агентура цивилизационной самобытности, соответственно, пораженческим.
Translation: Actually, now, these years and even months, Russia is being tested on realness of her centuries' old claim to civilizational uniqueness--one can not exclude that socio-cultural innovations coming from the West, sooner or later, will be accepted in Russia, especially because resource base of "internal West" in Russia is more substantial than material capabilities of all potential isolationists. However, we can not discount the possibility, in the nearest years, of witnessing a slow drift of Russian society towards acceptance of European standards: in both cultural openness to transgender and other sexual minorities, also in terms of purging the traces of patriarchy in politics, culture and religion. That would mean only one thing: Russia's refusal of being a civilization, instead choosing the way of conformance to the norms of Euro-Atlanticism, the way which "internal West" will call progressive, while agents of civilizational uniqueness will call it defeatist.
You see, what I am talking about? I just wrote and published one book on that, and writing another--that allowing all kinds of ignoramuses waxing philosophical and geopolitical without knowing that Russian civilizational code IS warfare on unprecedented scale and her Armed Forces, in the words of Prokhanov, is Second Church... Well, you know--that is what one gets from people who have no knowledge of both West and Russia, especially her history which IS the history of wars and survival. I do not want to continue dragging this for much longer but here is one reason why those "European standards" will not be accepted--Russian society is, using Western parlance, "militaristic one", it has to be--it is the culture which extols warrior--it is environment where Moscow hipsters (a precise environment of Mezhuev's academic activity) and their behavioral matrices can not survive. While bunch of Moscow douche-bags try to get into Timathy's Burger Place on new Arbat, 30 000 people of Voronezh lined up for the last goodbye to Major Roman Filipov. In the end, Mezhuev better watch this:
And ask himself a question: will the society which marches in tens of millions to commemorate their heroes accept gender neutrality and debilitating culture of mostly large urban centers Russian "internal West". But here is the point--for me to explain to philosopher WHAT and HOW goes into Russia's defense on material, economic, scientific, cultural and spiritual level will be impossible--philosophers are simply incoherent and not educated enough to get it in this immensely complex and confusing world of ours. As per Russia, she always was:
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