Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fragments on Immanence

If the basic question of metaphysics is "Why is there something rather than nothing?" then the basic question of anthropology is "Why am I someone rather than no one?"

From the first question we can derive an ontological one: "What are all these things?" From the second we get an ethnographic one: "Who are all these people?"

In both cases, the answer to the first lies in the second. You are someone and not no one because of the culture of the people around you. There is something rather than nothing because of the nature of things.

There is the world of things and the history of peoples.

But the "nothing" and "no one" indicates a radical alternative to how things and people are, what and who they are: that they could be nothing and no one at all.

If the soul is "not" a thing, then it becomes something im-material. If animals are "not" people, they become anti-social.

There is no escape from the world of things except into the history of people. And vice versa. It is not possible that there could be nothing, nor no one.

There is no escape from existence except into inspiration. And vice versa.

We cannot transcend our existence. But we can be inspired.

This is immanence. Always partly learning what you are and who you should become.


Presskorn said...

If Durkheim treats the second question in terms of the first (considérer les faits sociaux comme des choses), then Heidegger perhaps does the opposite (the worldliness of the world is constituted through Dasein)... Durkheim and Heidegger are perhaps then pangrammatical opposites: Durkheim, an anthropologist with an ambivalent relationship to neo-kantian philosophy. And Heidegger, a neo-kantian philosopher with an ambivalent relationsship to anthropology...

Thomas said...

Perhaps. Durkheim's ambivalence would then ultimately be an ambivalence about whether his anthropology is a scientific pursuit or a political one. Heidegger's would be an ambivalence about whether his metaphysics is philosophy or poetry. (I.e, antropology : metaphysics :: politics : science :: poetry : philosophy.) I'm sure that a close reading of their work could support this conjecture.