Micro Essay

PREFACE

16 May , 2016  

[viii, 12-14] could I use a conversational, dramatic form, a form I had developed through my own studies – the single most important question, raised also in the body of the text itself, is in the use of conversation. Why write in a conversational method? And to what extend does this method support the ambitions of the author or impede engagement? The conversational method not only has philosophical precedents (Plato, 1993) but is also linked to a philosophical project I have been pursuing for just under 30 years. Since 1988 I have been working on a philosophical project which attempts to formulate a (mathematical) notation, method and grammar for a philosophical science. In the earlier stages of this project I studied phenomenology, critical theory, structuralism and hermeneutics alongside Sufi thought (see Lewisohn (1999a, 1999b)) and classical literature. In the last ten years of work I began to distil an ultraconceptual (or ultratheoretical) symbolism with its own operating grammar, topological structures and a fixed lexical set. A key thinker in this work was Wittgenstein (2001). In order to carry out unearthing of metaphysical skeletal structures I read across theoretical boundaries, mixing conceptions and ideas from incommensurable conceptual systems – for example, the school of traditional metaphysics under Frithjof Schuon (Schuon and Smith (1996)) and structuralist psychoanalytical thought (Lacan and Fink (2007)). With the inevitable difficulties of reading across theoretical boundaries I needed a thinking and writing method that allowed me to document and enumerate the complexities and multiple perspectives without settling on one conceptual system. The method I developed finds its most articulate presentation in Bakhtin (1984) and his discussions of the dialogic and polyphonic novels – especially the writing of Dostoevsky. A brief paraphrase of his approach, from the foreword to Dostoevsky’s Demons (1988) reads: “Dostoevsky suppresses narrative commentary on his characters’ words and feelings, explanations of their motives, examination of their thoughts, the broad ‘painting’ of descriptive realism. All commentary comes from other characters, among whom is the narrator-chronicler himself”. My own intellectual practices were dialogic both in the various studies I carried out and in the method of formulating and distilling a conceptual symbolism to articulate primordial theoretical relations. An early discovery through this method was the discovery of the structural isomorphism between Diotima’s discussion of the lack in Eros in The Symposium (Plato, 1993) and Kojève’s discussion of the lack of Desire in Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (1980). A persistent question that constantly emerged out of this conceptual and symbolic work was: how would I teach someone this new symbolism, the post-metaphysical skeletal form that existed in the intersection of mathematics, language and art? What education system would approach these innovative ultra-theoretical developments?  This led me to the decision that the conversational method, if crafted correctly would support the ambition.


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