Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mahathirism & Schopenhauerism

As I was reading Malik Imtiaz's article Our Malaysia Our Folly my thought process lead me to a cognitive journey through Mahathir's Dilemma passing by Ian Chin's Imploration, back South to Lingham's declaration and the subsequent Haidar's Commission of Inquiry's imputation, and returning back to Malik's poser: "The question is what do we do about it now?".

Suddenly, I read a poser in Arthur Schopenhauer's note which he writes: "Ho! Ho! What a pity this was not found out sooner!" (page 147, On the Principle of Sufficient Reason; Prometheus Books, 1891 4th Edition; 2006)

Reading through the various pages which I did not take much notice of his criticism of Kant, it then suddenly manifested in me the essential nature and meanings to the doctrine of Mahathirism in his ancient Dilemma and the observable รก posteriori (empirical knowledge) of the present predicaments. By means of an amplification which only needed a little audacity, a theoretical oracle had been added to the practical oracle with which Mahathir had wrongly endowed his Reasons and we have this historical professor, Schopenhauer, who was actually writing a critique to express the straits to which Mahathir had deduced them. Let me share that passage here:

"All that distinguishes human life so forcibly from that of animals and confers so great a superiority on man, is, as we have shown, based upon his faculty for these representations, this faculty evidently and unquestionably constitutes that Reason, which from time to time immemorial has been the prerogative of mankind.

It cannot be denied that "he" first gave rise to the distorted view which followed in his principal work about the true nature of Reason, as opposed to the distorted conceptions for which we have to thank the "professors" of this century. Our "professor" decided that this faculty should henceforth be called 'Understanding' instead of 'Reason', and that all that is derived from it should be named 'Intelligent' instead of 'Rational', which of course had a strange awkward ring and a discordant tone.

The Good, The True, and the Beautiful, were made to stand high in favor with the sentimental and tender-hearted as pretended ideas, though they are really only abstract conceptions; wherefore, like many other such abstracta, they are exceedingly empty. As regards their content, I have shown that Truth is a quality belonging exclusively to judgments: that is, a logical quality. Young people had easily be induced to believe that something peculiar and inexpressive lies behind them, which entitles them to be called ideas, and harnessed to the triumphal car of this would-be Reason.

Reason supplies material knowledge from its own resources and conveys positive information transcending the sphere of possible experience; a Reason which, in order to do this, must necessarily contain innate ideas, is a pure fiction, invented by our "professional philosophers" and a product of the terror with which the Critique of Pure Reason (Mahathir's Dilemma?) has inspired them.

I wonder now whether this gentleman know a certain Locke and whether he has ever read his work? Perhaps he may have done so in times long gone by, cursorily and superficially, while looking down complacently on this great thinker from the heights of their own conscious superiority; may be, too, in some inferior translation; for I do not yet see that the knowledge of his modern languages has increased in proportion to the deplorable decrease in that of ancient ones.

Alas! Alas! the great mischief in the hero-worship of this sort, and in the glorification of this celebrity by his colleagues in office or hopeful aspirants to it, is precisely, that ordinary intellects are presented to honest credulous youths of immature judgment, as master minds, exceptions and ornaments of mankind. The celebrators forthwith throw all their energies into the barren study of the endless, insipid scribblings of such mediocrities, thus wasting the short, invaluable period allotted to them for higher education, instead of using it to attain the sound information they might have found in the works of those extremely rare, genuine, truly exceptional thinkers.

For this generation also those great minds might have had life, had our youth not been cheated out of its share in their wisdom by these exceedingly pernicious extoller of mediocrity, members of the vast league and brotherhood of mediocrities, which is as flourishing today as it ever was and still hoists its flag as high as it can in persistent antagonism to all that is great and genuine, as humiliating to its members. Thanks to them, our age has declined to so low an ebb.

But where was this falsehood originally hatched? How did the fiction first come into our world? I am bound to confess that it was first originated by his Categorical Imperative; for when this had once been admitted, nothing further was needed than the addition of a second, no less sovereign reason as its counterpart, or twin-sister.

Now, although I grant that he first gave rise to this false assumption, I am nevertheless bound to add, that those who want to dance are not long in finding a piper.

For it is surely as though a curse lay on mankind, causing them, in virtue of a natural affinity for all that is corrupt and bad, to prefer and hold up to admiration the inferior, not to say downright defective, portions of the works of eminent minds, while the really admirable parts are tolerated as merely necessary.

We soon perceived therefore, that in spite of all their talk, these people really know nothing of it but the husk, the mere outer envelope, and that if perchance they may here or there have caught up of it, they have never penetrated to the depths of its meaning and spirit.

We may at last perhaps discover that these heroic act upon the same principle as that idealistic bird, the ostrich, which imagines that by closing its eyes it does away with the huntsman. Ah well! we must bide our time; if the public can only be brought to take up meantime with the barren twaddle, the unbearably tiresome repetitions, the arbitrary constructions, and the infant-school morality of this gentleman - say, till I am dead and they can trim up my works as they like - we shall then see.

But do this gentleman know what time of day it is? A long predicted epoch has set in; we have evident signs in the general diffusion of that shallow rationalism which is showing its bulldog face daily more and more overtly. It quietly sets to work to measure those profound mysteries over which decades have brooded and disputed with its draper's ell, and thinks itself wondrous wise withal.

Just as in times of prevailing poverty and neglect, wolves begin to make their appearances in villages; so does Materialism, ever lying in wait, under these circumstances lift up its head and come to the front hand in hand with Bestialism, its companion, which some call Humanism.

There comes a boiling-point in the scale of all intellectual development, at which all revelation and all authority evaporate, and man claims the right to judge for himself; the right, not only to be taught, but to be convinced. The leading-strings of his infancy have fallen off, and henceforth he demands leave to walk alone.

Then it is that the desire for philosophy becomes serious and that mankind invokes the spirit of all the genuine thinkers who have issued from its ranks. Then, too, empty verbiage and the impotent endeavors of emasculated intellects no longer suffice; the want of a serious philosophy is felt, having other aims in view than fees and salaries, and caring little therefore whether it meets the approbation of cabinet-ministers, or councillors, whether it serves the purposes of this or that faction, or not; a philosophy which, on the contrary clearly shows that it has a very different mission in view from that of procuring a livelihood for the poor in spirit.

Reason had for ages vainly argued and contended; and it is on such a mere product of imagination, such a completely fictitious reason as this, that the sham philosophy has been based for the last forty odd years; first, as a free construction and projection of the absolute ego and the emanation from it of the non-ego; then, as the intellectual intuition of absolute identity or indifference, and its evolutions to nature; or again, as the rising of god out of his dark-depths or bottomless pit.

So this is the Reason, is it? Oh, no, it is simply a farce! Ho! Ho! What a pity this was not found out sooner!"

1 comment:

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