Republicans Unfair to Lessing!

by John Holbo on July 21, 2006

I’m late to the party, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed it. Chris "Day by Day" Muir has been mocked round the blogs on account of an incandescently ignorant pair of strips he perpetrated about ‘Kantian nihilism’. Muir made it worse with an egregious, homophobic follow-up. (Honestly, you’d think someone who had just been so roundly spanked could come up with a better a posteriori proof joke.) Then, bless him, he tried to figure out some way to mock Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings. I think: "Way to miss the entire point, cretin," was his most devastating jab. People started to feel a bit sorry for him.

Ouch.  This is getting to be like watching a cat toying with a still-living mouse. – Gromit

No, it’s like watching a still-living mouse pretend to be a cat and kill itself. – Hilzoy

Back to ‘Kantian nihilism’. A few commenters – starting at Yglesias’ site, I think – have scrupulously noted that ‘nihilism’ was a charge first lodged against Kant by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi. There’s quite an extensive entry on the man at the Stanford Encyclopedia. I happen to have just read Andrew Bowie, From Romanticism to Critical Theory [amazon]. I’ll quote a few bits about Jacobi, because who doesn’t love a bit of esoteric piquancy with their transcendent absurdity?

It is too often forgotten that the perception of Kant by many of his contemporaries was of a dangerous iconoclast. Indeed, Jacobi linked consequences which he saw in Kant’s philosophy to the wider danger of what he termed ‘nihilism’. As we shall see, Jacobi regarded nihilism as the inevitable result of the failure of philosophy to explain the fact that the world exists or is manifest at all. Kant, who himself avowedly believed in God, was regarded as a threat in his own time because he rejected the idea that philosophy can have access to the (theologically) inbuilt structure of reality. However this aspect of Kant’s thought is understood, it evidently puts into question the idea that the ultimate truth of the world is accessible and therefore constitutes the knowable goal of philosophy or natural science. (p. 31)

Or as Muir would put it: ‘teh knowable goal.’

Jacobi’s main claim to fame was his report that Lessing had confided in him that he (Lessing) was a Spinozist, which led to the Pantheism controversy, the United States declaring independence, and possibly the premature demise of Moses Mendelssohn, due to nervous exhaustion brought on by over-strenuous Spinozistic apologetics (a young man’s game, if ever there was one.) Perhaps the most significant twist in the controversy came when Jacobi wrote a highly adverse defense of Fichte against charges of atheism, in which he made clear the grounds of his own disagreement with Fichte (who, like Kant, is bound to end up a nihilist.)

Jacobi was convinced that Fichte reproduced the difficulties we have already encountered in Kant and Spinoza. Like some of the later critics of metaphysics, such as the later Heidegger, or Rorty, Jacobi thinks the problem lies in the philosophical enterprise itself. He goes so far as to say that his own position is no longer philosophy – he terms it: ‘Unphilosophie’ – because it has renounced the idea that knowledge can be finally grounded within a system. Any such grounding, of the kind suggested by Fichte’s ‘I’, will entail a narcissism on the part of reason:

“In everything and from everything (In Allem und aus Allem) the human mind, by making concepts, only seeks itself to find itself again; continually tearing itself away from the momentary, determined existence which, so to speak, wants to swallow it, in order to save its being-itself and being-in-itself, in order to carry on this being via its own activity and to do so with freedom.” (Jacobi 1799 pp. 10-11)

He agrees with Fichte that the ‘science of knowledge’ should strive to be complete, but thinks the completion of the science of knowledge will reveal that what really matters lies outside the domain of ‘knowledge’, the realm of the ‘conditioned’. How, then, does one arrive at what is outside ‘knowledge’?

Jacobi’s formulations concerning the grounding of reason have been echoed almost verbatim in some of the contemporary critiques of foundational philosophy which are so essential to literary theory. Consider the following, which should now make the direction of my broader argument much clearer. Jacobi’s case against Fichte begins from the following view of ‘philosophy’ in Fichte’s sense, meaning a self-supporting system based on the autonomy of reason:

“A pure, that is a thoroughly immanent philosophy; a philosophy made only of One piece; a true system of reason is only possibnle in the Fichtean manner. Obviously everything must only be given in and through reason, in the I as I, as egoity, and already be contained in it, if pure reason alone should be able to deduce everything form out of itself alone.

The root of reason (Vernunft) is listening (Vernehmen). – Pure reason is a listening which only listens to itself. Or: Pure reason listens only to itself.” (Jacobi 1799, p. 14) (p. 42-3)

Obviously what we are seeing here is a brilliant anticipation of the right-wing critique of the MSM echo-chamber. The NY Times and Bill Keller as pure reason, incapable of listening to anything but their own spin.

Jacobi was the first South Park Conservative.

Alternatively, all this might be a proof that Muir is a closet post-modern relativist. His contempt for the reality-based community shows through.

Moving right along:

Kant has to appeal to an aspect of the world of appearances which cannot be finally subsumed into concpetual judgements. The vital question is how the awareness that systems of relations can both repress and articulate leads to the revaluation of that which cannot be understood in terms of those relations.

A classic example of this awareness occurs in Concluding Unscientific Postscript of 1846, when Kierkegaard, in the guise of Johannes Climacus, maintains in a discussion of Pantheism and Hegelian philosophy, based precisely on Jacobi’s Letters, that:

“every such system fantastically dissipates the concept existence. But we ought to say this not merely of pantheistic systems; it would be more to the point to show that every system must be pantheistic precisely on account of its finality. Existence must be revoked in the eternal before the system can round itself out.” (Kierkegaard 1968 p. 111) (p. 50-1)

This is self-evidently applicable to the Liebermann/Lamont line-up. A vote for Lamont is objectively pro-Pantheist. (As Ann Coulter says: "If Americans knew that all liberals are pantheists, they would boil them in oil.")

In the spirit of Hegelian negative judgment – lowest meets highest – we need a Photoshop contest to turn a set of "Day by Day" strips into erudite commentary on the Pantheism controversy.

Of course, since Muir knows nothing of philosophy, this sort of interpretive embroidery might itself constitute nihilistic, deconstructive excess. (If you want to stick with authorial intent, just rewrite that last frame: "Try, Mr. Muir. One of these is the adult John Locke. The other is a baby picture of Arthur Schopenhauer." "I Kant.") But to dismiss the exercise as deconstructive would be precisely to fall into the Fichtean trap, whence Muir is so subtly attempting to extricate us. I quote again from Bowie:

Jacques Derrida contrasts ‘two interpretations of interpretation’: one ‘seeks to decipher, dreams of deciphering a truth or an origin fthat escapes the play and the order of the sign, and lives the necessity of interpretation like an exile’; the other ‘affirms play and tries to go beyond man and humanism’ (Derrida 1967b, p. 427). The contrast which concerns Derrida emerges from a fundamental metaphysical conflict of the kind we have observed between Fichte and Jacobi. In ‘Fichtean’ terms the transparent truth or origin is the self-positing subject, conceived of as that which freely intends and produces the textual meanings which the interpret tries to reproduce.

Plainly, this way lies Kantian nihilism. The Jacobian alternative beckons. But wait!

Although such a position is clearly indefensible, its inversion, in which the subject has no serious control over the meaning of the ‘discourse of the Other’, because that discourse is always already prior to the subject who is ‘inserted’ into it, will turn out to be equally indefensible. Derrida’s move beyond ‘man and humanism’ is a move beyond the idea of the self-present spontaneous subject that is invoked to explain the realm of meaning behind the ‘play’ of the text. The potential for this move is already latent – albeit only if one subtracts the theological let-out – in Jacobi’s sense of ‘alterity’, ‘otherness’, in the undermining of the certainties of self-consciousness and the revelation of the dependence of human reason on the ‘truth’, thus on an origin which cannot be discursively explicated. (p. 47)

All of which casts Chris Muir’s most decisive contribution to the Pantheism debate in a fresh light:

Note to hilzoy: Don’t believe the philosopher in the mirror.

What a tool you are.

y’all need a life.

The Kierkegaardian irony of it. Treating others as ends in themselves can only end in oneself being a ‘tool’ –  quintessential means to an end. And yet: is it not clear that Muir himself needs to ask himself whether he should believe the Unphilosopher who is not in the mirror? (As it were.)

(Dave Maier and Russell Fox recommended the Bowie book in this thread. Thanks!)

{ 61 comments }

1

FL 07.22.06 at 1:05 am

Thank Christ I’ve had several drinks; yet I resist the compulsion to make bad jokes about David Bowie. We were the young Hegelians– all night! For fuck’s sake, Muir.

2

A White Bear 07.22.06 at 2:22 am

This is simply unfair. You’ve read Kant! Clearly only people who have not read Kant are invited to respond to Muir’s comic strips. The rest of us are meant to rue the day we wandered into the philosophy section at Barnes & Noble, for it hath made tools of us all.

3

eb 07.22.06 at 3:28 am

How long until one of the characters from the strip explains that Kant’s moral philosophy is structured around the idea of the categorical denial?

4

Uncle Kvetch 07.22.06 at 9:02 am

“Incandescently ignorant.” I like it.

Blinded by the absence of light, as it were.

5

abb1 07.22.06 at 9:27 am

The guy in the first section of the comic – who says ‘Kantian nihilism’ – seem to be talking out of his ass. Maybe it’s a significant detail.

6

Anderson 07.22.06 at 9:31 am

Hey, credit where it’s due: I believe that I am the cretin.

At least, according to a bad cartoonist with serious reading-comprehension issues.

7

Patrick Banks 07.22.06 at 10:02 am

How dumb is Chris Muir? Well, last December a blog called All Things Beautiful challenged its readers to submit their list of 10 worst Americans of all time. This is what Mr. Muir submitted:

#1-Bill Clinton-turned the Presidential office into a whorehouse, special favors department for China, the list goes on and on…

#2-Hillary Clinton-Anti-Human power-obsessed Harpy intent on remaking people to suit her needs.

#3-Trent Lott-Opportunist for himself only.

#4-MSM-propaganda arm for leftists

#5-George Bush the Elder-Opportunist for himself only.

#6-Jimmy Carter-Pathetic Human Being

#7-Jacques Chirac-Enabler Extraordinaire

#8-Schroeder-see above

#9-Randy Cunningham-Sold himself and his service down the pike

#10-Oprah-Mass Distraction and Propaganda for anti-male diatribes

Posted by: chris Muir | Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 03:24 PM

(LINK: http://www.allthingsbeautiful.com/all_things_beautiful/2005/12/a_challenge_to_.html#comment-12415517 )

Yeah, Chris Muir is Dee Yoo Em Bee as a box of hair.

8

Patrick Banks 07.22.06 at 10:03 am

Oh, and I only meant to bold Cirac & Schroeder. I guess I’m too Dee You Em Bee to figure out HTML.

9

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 10:22 am

Well, as I pointed out on the thread, Adolf Eichmann was a driven by a Kantian sense of duty. (Hilzoy claimed that Eichmann recanted, but Eichmann was obviously just trying to get a lighter sentence that way.)

It’s telling that a liberal like Hilzoy spends her time making excuses for a monster like Kant, when she could be baking cookies, volunteeting in a neighborhood cleanup program,or supporting the troops instead.

10

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 10:22 am

-a, t–>r.

11

hilzoy 07.22.06 at 11:00 am

“Judge Raveh, either out of curiosity or out of indignation at Eichmann’s having dared to invoke Kant’s name in connection with the crimes, decided to question the accused. And, to the surprise of everyone, Eichmann came up with an approximately correct definition of the Categorical Imperative: “I meant by my remark about Kant that the principle of my will must always be such that it can become the principle of general laws.” … Upon further questioning, he added that he had read Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. He then proceeded to explain that from the moment he was charged with carrying out the Final Solution he had ceased to live according to Kantian principles, that he had known it, and that he had consoled himself with the thought that he no longer “was master of his own deeds”, that he “was unable to change anything.” (Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, p. 136.)

Note to self: be sure to emphasize to students that we are always master of our own deeds, and that to say that we “can’t help” what we are doing in any situation short of literal paralysis or something like that is just bad faith.

12

hilzoy 07.22.06 at 11:04 am

And John Emerson: luckily for me, I can bake cookies, support the troops, and defend Kant all at the same time — while simultaneously dusting the glassware, pruning the wisteria, and typing out trenchant blog posts with my toes. Sort of like a one-man band, only less entertaining.

13

Anderson 07.22.06 at 11:16 am

Wait, I thought Emerson was being ironic. Somebody please tell me that he was being ironic …?

14

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 11:26 am

I don’t actually have any knowledge of Eichmann’s motive for his recantation.

Late in life, Marlene Dietrich said that Kant and Hemingway were the two men she most admired, but the only one she regretted not screwing was Hemingway.

15

bill cowper 07.22.06 at 11:55 am

Good thing too considering the shape Kant was in.

16

Doctor Slack 07.22.06 at 12:25 pm

Patrick: It looks like Muir is in good company on that blog. Check out today’s entry, featuring “President Bush as Napoleon Bonaparte, flanked by Foreign Secretary Condoleezza Rice, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as The Angel.” Good Lord.

Anderson: no, Emerson wasn’t being serious.

On the post: I hope I won’t seem like a killjoy here, but with Chris “Fish-in-a-Barrel” Muir well shot, I’d like to ask about this:

Jacobi’s formulations concerning the grounding of reason have been echoed almost verbatim in some of the contemporary critiques of foundational philosophy which are so essential to literary theory.

The question that comes to mind is: “almost verbatim” by whom? Is, say, Rortian pragmatism really concerned that “what really matters lies outside the domain of ‘knowledge'”? Is there a brief way to outline Bowie’s case for this?

Of course, since Muir knows nothing of philosophy, this sort of interpretive embroidery might itself constitute nihilistic, deconstructive excess.

And it’s kind of funny that a post poking fun at various misuses of the term “nihilism” should contain a phrase like “nihilistic, deconstructive excess,” isn’t it?

17

John Holbo 07.22.06 at 12:35 pm

And it’s kind of funny that a post poking fun at various misuses of the term “nihilism” should contain a phrase like “nihilistic, deconstructive excess,” isn’t it?

Well, yes.

That’s why I made sure the post contained the phrase. (Right?)

18

Doctor Slack 07.22.06 at 12:40 pm

Ahhh. Right.

19

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 12:59 pm

Hedy Lamarr, by contrast, said nothing about Hemingway or Kant, but paired with the avant-garde composer George Antheil to invent, and gain a patent, on “frequency hopping” (also called “frequency shifting” or “spread spectrum”). Unfortunately, they were ahead of their time, and their concept was not put into use until three years after the patent ran out in 1959.

She did say, “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”

20

marcel 07.22.06 at 1:18 pm

Note to John Emerson: That’s Hedley Lamarr!

21

Alexandra 07.22.06 at 1:22 pm

Doctor Slack,

Patrick: It looks like Muir is in good company on that blog.

Well that blog, is me. And the link above from which the comment is quoted comes from my blog.

Tell me what does it feel like to be YOU though? Chronically bereft of ideas, imagination, no sense of humor, no understanding for artform of any kind, yet the temerity to knock someone else’s…

You guys make me laugh on this thread. You don’t have even an ounce of talent that Chris Muir has. Pathetic display of intellectual masturbation about the nuances of the term ‘nihilism’. Nothing better to do in this classroom echo chamber?

Do you have any idea how pompous you all sound? It would serve you well to rein in that unwarranted superciliousness and condescension, if any of you are constitutionally capable of doing so.

22

Doctor Slack 07.22.06 at 1:26 pm

Fucking awesome. Thanks for dropping by, Alexandra! Keep it up with those “artforms.”

23

Cala 07.22.06 at 1:28 pm

Dude, it’s not ‘nuances’ of nihilism that you’re misunderstanding. It’s the goddamn definition.

24

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 1:31 pm

Like Hedy, Allexandra is Teh Hott.

25

abb1 07.22.06 at 1:34 pm

Oh yeah.

26

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 1:36 pm

More recently, Skunk Baxter of Steely Dan, and later the Doobie Brothers, has played a role in the development of the missile defense system. (Sort of seems like that, the way it’s working out, right? Skunk is not Teh Hott.)

27

Anderson 07.22.06 at 1:47 pm

Do you have any idea how pompous you all sound?

Very, very difficult to imagine saying that sentence in any non-pompous manner.

–Thanks, Slack; my irony detector’s been acting up lately.

28

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 1:52 pm

Frankly, I personally would renounce Kant in the snap of a finger if I thought it would help me escape the gallows, and I think that Leo Strauss would too. (If you doubt me, read his “Persecution and the Art of Writing”, where Strauss develops the concept of “al-Taqiyya” or dissimulation.)

29

Glenn Bridgman 07.22.06 at 1:58 pm

“Note to self: be sure to emphasize to students that we are always master of our own deeds, and that to say that we “can’t help” what we are doing in any situation short of literal paralysis or something like that is just bad faith.”

Hi2u Sartre!

30

Adam Kotsko 07.22.06 at 2:20 pm

Pomposity now equals “being minimally informed about philosophy.” It would appear that Chris Muir is not pompous by that definition.

I like the mention of Rorty in the same sentence as the later Heidegger.

“Almost verbatim” is, like its close relative “literally,” almost always used in a figurative sense.

31

Carlton 07.22.06 at 2:31 pm

Well, it’s funny because I happen to have Immanuel Kant right here…

32

Immanuel Kant 07.22.06 at 2:32 pm

Sir, you obviously know nothing of my philosophy. You mean my whole fallacy is wrong? How you got to write a cartoon on the Internet or anywhere else for that matter is beyond me.

33

Alexandra 07.22.06 at 2:39 pm

Prof. Dr. Slack,

Keep it up with those “art forms.”

Only if you promise to carry on being intrinsically amusing in your dissection of the philosophical accuracy of an, um, comic strip. I am sure Chris thought very long and hard about how he was going to set up his “I Kant” pun of a punch-line.

I don’t suppose writing a comic strip, with his tongue naturally tending to be firmly in his cheek, it would occur to anyone that he may be deriving inordinate amusement from this very thread, full of earnest analysis of how stupid he is simply because you haven’t realized the whole thing is a joke? Even with the colossal hint that it was presented in, um, a comic strip?

I don’t know whether he meant it seriously or not; but I’m sure that if he knows you guys are spending your time pontificating owlishly over ‘Kantian nihilism’, he is deeply amused out there somewhere, and very curious to see how long you’ll obsess over it.

He’ll be delighted he has the entire University campus and faculty to boot, analyzing the profound meaning of his jokes.

34

Doctor Slack 07.22.06 at 2:43 pm

Oh my God. I can’t breathe.

35

dave heasman 07.22.06 at 2:47 pm

“you haven’t realized the whole thing is a joke? Even with the colossal hint that it was presented in, um, a comic strip?”

Now this is just silly. The medium is not the message. Just because it’s a comic strip doesn’t mean it has to be arrogant, ignorant and flatulent.
“he has the entire University campus and faculty to boot, analyzing the profound meaning of his jokes”
he has about 7 people (perhaps the size of the university you went to?) using his ignorance as a stepping-off point for telling me good stuff I didn’t know, on a topic I was slightly less ignorant of than Muir, or, it appears, you were.

36

Jonathan 07.22.06 at 2:48 pm

Those strips do show considerable cheek, no?

37

Donald Johnson 07.22.06 at 3:00 pm

Good defensible fallback position, Alexandra. A fighting retreat is really difficult to pull off, or so I’ve read somewhere. It would have been better if Chris had a legitimate point to make, but under the circumstances, just saying that his cartoon was stupid and pointless and not worth discussing is probably the right tactic.

38

Uncle Kvetch 07.22.06 at 3:23 pm

you haven’t realized the whole thing is a joke?

Yeah, c’mon all you damn eggheads, where’s your sense of humor?

“The New York Times doesn’t know the difference between the US Army and al-Qaeda!” I don’t care where you are on the political spectrum, that’s fucking hilarious!

“Andrew Sullivan takes it in the butt!” Comedy gold!

39

Alexandra 07.22.06 at 3:33 pm

Dave,

he has about 7 people (perhaps the size of the university you went to?)

Ouch David that was so….umh…hurtful, and umh…personal…and I don’t know if I can recover from such a blow…

As for the “arrogant, ignorant and flatulent”, I would say that you suffer from two out of the three. Attending that tiny little place in England that they tend to call one of the top three Universities in the world, makes me ill equipped to accuse you of being ignorant. After all what would I know?

I do however understand ‘ignorance’ is a derogatory remark which you callously throw in my direction, but I cannot possibly reciprocate whilst being in the throes of what Donald so poetically called “fighting retreat”. I do indeed have to go, it has been a pleasure to have this cozy little chat about the philosophical merits of Chris’ cartoon, which I do not find “stupid and pointless” but simply amusing.

40

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 3:36 pm

Look, guys, isn’t this thread about Skunk Baxter? Don’t let the Serbo-Argentinian princess hijack the thread.

41

dave heasman 07.22.06 at 3:50 pm

Jesus H christ on a unicycle – “I do however understand ‘ignorance’ is a derogatory remark which you callously throw in my direction”

“Just because it’s a comic strip doesn’t mean it has to be arrogant, ignorant and flatulent.”

i.e. in spite of your education you’re identifying yourself as a comic strip. Why? I know it’s Saturday night and all, but I have to be in, I’m paid to be on call, are you making an ass of yourself for *fun*?

42

Doctor Slack 07.22.06 at 3:51 pm

JE says: Don’t let the Serbo-Argentinian princess hijack the thread.

I don’t know, I’m finding her pretty entertaining. I mean, come on:

Attending that tiny little place in England that they tend to call one of the top three Universities in the world

She was complaining about pomposity earlier, wasn’t she? Priceless. You have to admit she’s funnier than Chris Muir… or maybe even Skunk Baxter.

43

Jonathan 07.22.06 at 4:11 pm

There’s a widely available bootleg of a Steely Dan concert in Memphis in the mid-70s where Fagen introduces a song by very nasally asking the audience to guess which song there were going to play by informing them that Jeff “Skunk” Baxter was using D-modal tuning or something. You have to wonder how close the audience was to rioting. And justifably so.

44

Adam Kotsko 07.22.06 at 4:45 pm

Every joke must contain an element of truth in order to be successful as a joke. Therefore, we are judging Chris Muir’s strip precisely on its own terms, as a comic strip that attempts to make a joke. Introducing a nonsense phrase such as “Kantian nihilism” completely kills the joke.

I do like the shot of the woman’s ass in that one strip, though. YOWZA!!!!

45

Walt 07.22.06 at 4:48 pm

Oh my God, this is so funny. The fact that Alexandra showed up, with no awareness that John Holbo’s original post and all of the comments in the thread were jokes is definite proof of the existence of God. Oh Lord, forgive me my many years of apostasy; I see now your wisdom in making not the best of all possible worlds, but the funniest.

46

John Emerson 07.22.06 at 4:52 pm

Walt, I wasn’t kidding about Kant being a monster.

It’s OK with me, though, if Hilzoy doesn’t make cookies, if her feminazi principles prevent her from doing so, because I’m a liberal and I’m tolerant af all nazis, even feminazis.

I’m not tolerant of Kant, though.

47

Benjamin Nelson 07.22.06 at 6:49 pm

48

wage slage 07.22.06 at 10:34 pm

The philosophy-reading, sushi-eating elitist groupthink in this thread is why you guys don’t win elections anymore.

49

Jackmormon 07.22.06 at 10:48 pm

Do you mean that Democrats are going to have to rethink their strategy of nominating philosophy professors for the Presidency?

Damn.

50

washerdreyer 07.22.06 at 11:03 pm

Alexandra, do you think there was any reason at all that Chris Muir had his character say “Kantian Nihilism” rather then “They smell bad” (or some equivalent of this second)? If no, then everything you’ve said in this thread makes sense, you are also likely a radical postmodernist. If yes, then pretty much all the criticism in all the threads about this cartoon has been dead on, I think. But I’d be interested in seeing you defend the view that he had some reason for writing “Kantian Nihilism” and yet all of this criticism is woefully misguided.

51

Malachai M. Nillsai 07.23.06 at 12:00 am

Washer, I realize you’re being charitable. But of course, when one looks like a total moron in front of a lot of people, and all rational defence is impossible, the only tactic left is to say: “it was all a joke!! Joke’s on you, suckers – don’t you see the joke!?! Joke!”

This is to be encouraged. Not only does the person look like a stupid asshole, they look like an unfunny stupid asshole.

52

Doctor Slack 07.23.06 at 10:16 am

wage slage: That’s “Michael Moore-watching, latte-drinking elitist groupthink” to you. Stick with the classics, kid.

53

"Q" the Enchanter 07.23.06 at 1:09 pm

“incandescently ignorant”

Yes, like a lump of coal that bedims in its own nigritude.

54

abb1 07.23.06 at 1:41 pm

May I suggest this philosophical comic: http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war56.html

55

Seth Edenbaum 07.23.06 at 3:09 pm

As Katha Pollitt wrote recently in The Nation, the author of the hoax, Alan Sokal, “cites as ridiculous postmodern ‘dogma’ the argument that the world is real but unknowable, a position put foreword by Kant in 1781…”

56

Benjamin Nelson 07.23.06 at 3:42 pm

Seth: emphasis on “real”. Realism is the opposite of nihilism.

What Sokal is presumably referring to is that Kant tells us we have almost no access to things-in-themselves, or noumena, but have a helluva lot of access to empirical reality, or phenomena.

57

Geezer 07.23.06 at 4:09 pm

I don’t suppose writing a comic strip, with his tongue naturally tending to be firmly in his cheek, it would occur to anyone that he may be deriving inordinate amusement from this very thread, full of earnest analysis of how stupid he is simply because you haven’t realized the whole thing is a joke? Even with the colossal hint that it was presented in, um, a comic strip?

There was a joke?

Who knew?

58

JR 07.23.06 at 7:54 pm

“writing a comic strip, with his tongue naturally tending to be firmly in his cheek..”

Or in someone’s cheek anyway. I never read the words. I just like the bare butts.

59

Helen 07.23.06 at 10:19 pm

Alexandra – I can’t for the life of me see Condolleezza Rice in the picture (the one with Bush, Merkel and Rice). Is it one of these optical-illusion thingies?

60

Alexandra 07.24.06 at 1:56 am

Helen,

The painting is 700 pxls across, and she is standing on the right of the image, directly on Bush’s left dressed in blue. You need to open your window to its maximum.

61

J. Dickenson 07.24.06 at 1:16 pm

Democrats are unfair to Lessing’s son!

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