Karatani’s Non-Cartesian Cogito Part Two

Post
Modern Japan


Earl
Jackson, Jr.


talkingcure2000@aol.com

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Study Guide Four

On
Karatani Kojin’s „Non-Cartesian Cogito.“ Part II.

Our
reading  of Karatani continues into the final of the three essays,
On
the 
Thing-in-itself“. 
This builds on the Cartesian meditations and Kantian analytics of the previous
two essays,


Introduction
to the Non-Cartesian Cogito
„;
Non-Cartesian
cogito or the Cogito as Difference“:.

In
the table below, I rearrange portions of Karatani’s text for specific focus.


 

 

Earl Jackson Jr.s‘ Extrapolations of Main Points in „On
the Thing-in-itself“


Karatani Kojin.

 
The Three types of „subjext“ Karatani’s Terms for the Three Types of Subject.
In contemporary Japanese, for instance, the grammatical
subject, subject as „theoretical reason,“ and subject as „practical reason“
are distinguished, and called shugo, shukan, and shutai,
respectively. 
shugo The grammatical subject of the
sentence.
The grammatical subject
shukan The epistemological subject. The subject as „theoretical reason“
shutai The subject in relation to others. The subject as „practical reason.“
Karatani attributes these distinctions to Nishida Kitaro.

Naoki Sakai discusses the differences between shukan
and shutai in terms of the philosophy of Watsuji Tetsujiro.
Let’s leave this aside for now.
[Karatani’s Text is in Blue-Violet. Nietzsche that Karatani
quotes is in Clover Green.]
Nietzsche’s Text not quoted
in Karatani is in Red.
Karatani turns to Nietzsche’s view of grammar
Nietzsche claimed that the Cartesian
cogito ergo sum was merely an inference automatically driven by the grammatical
custom of the Western languages. He continues:
Let’s look at Nietzsche in context:.
P]hilosophizing is to this extent
a kind of atavism of the highest order. The strange family resemblance
of all Indian, Greek, and German philosophizing is explained easily enough.
Where there is affinity of languages, it cannot fail, owing to the common
philosophy of grammar-I mean, owing to the unconscious domination and guidance
by similar grammatical functions-that everything is prepared at the outset
for a similar development and sequence of philosophical systems; just as
the way seems barred against certain other possibilities of world-interpretation.
It is highly probable that philosophers within the domain of the Ural-Altaic
languages (where the concept of the subject is least developed) look otherwise
„into the world,“ and will be found on paths of thought different from
those of the Indo-Germanic peoples and the Muslims: the spell of certain
grammatical functions is ultimately also the spell of physiological valuations
and racial conditions. (217)
17.With
regard to the superstitions of logicians, I shall never tire of emphasizing
a small terse fact, which these superstitious minds hate to concede – namely,
that a thought comes when „it“ wishes. and not when „I“ wish, so that it
is a falsification of the facts of the case to say that the subject „I“
is the condition of the predicate „think.“ It thinks; but that this „it“
is precisely the famous old „ego“ is, to put it mildly, only a supposition,
an assertion. and assuredly not an „immediate certainty.“ After all, one
has even gone too far with this „it thinks“ – even the „it“ contains an
interpretation of the process, and does not belong to the process itself.
0ne infers here according to the grammatical habit: „Thinking is an activity;
every activity requires an agent; consequently…“


It was pretty much according
to the same schema that the older atomism sought, besides the operating
„power,“ that lump of matter in which it resides and out of which it operates
– the atom. More rigorous minds, however, learned at last to get along
without this „earth-residuum,“ and perhaps some day we shall accustom ourselves,
including the logicians, to get along without the little „it“ (which is
all that is left of the honest little old ego).

18 It is certainly not the least
charm of a theory that it is refutable; it is precisely thereby that it
attracts subtler minds. It seems that the hundred-times-refuted theory
of a „free will“ owes its persistence to this charm alone; again and again
someone comes along who feels he is strong enough to refute it.

19 Philosophers are accustomed
to speak of the will as if it were the best-known thing in the world; indeed,
Schopenhauer has given us to understand that the will alone is really known
to us, absolutely and completely known, without subtraction or addition.
But again and again it seems to me that in this case, too, Schopenhauer
only did what philosophers are in the habit of doing – he adopted a popular
prejudice and exaggerated it. Willing seems to me to be above all something
complicated, something that is a unit only as a word – and it is precisely
in this one word that the popular prejudice lurks, which has defeated the
always inadequate caution of philosophers. So let us for once be more cautious,
let us be „unphilosophical“: let us say that in all willing there is, first,
a plurality of sensations, namely, the sensation of the state „away from
which“ the sensation of the state „towards which,“ the sensation of this
„from and towards“ themselves, and then also an accompanying muscular sensation,
which, even without our putting into motion „arms and legs,“ begins its
action by force of habit as soon as we „will“ anything.


Therefore just as sensations
(and indeed many kinds of sensation) are to be recognized as ingredients
of the will, so, secondly, should thinking also: in every act of the will
there is a ruling thought – let us not imagine it possible to sever this
thought from the „willing,“ as if any will would then remain over!


Third, the will is not only
a complex of sensation and thinking, but it is above all an affect, and
specifically the affect of the command. That which is termed „freedom of
the will“ is essentially the affect of superiority in relation to him who
must obey: „I am free, ‚he‘ must obey“ – this consciousness is inherent
in every will; and equally so the straining of the attention, the straight
look that fixes itself exclusively on one aim, the unconditional evaluation
that „this and nothing else is necessary now,“ the inward certainty that
obedience will be rendered – and whatever else belongs to the position
of the commander. A man who wills commands something within himself that
renders obedience, or that he believes renders obedience.


But now let us notice what is
strangest about the will – this manifold thing for which the people have
only one word: inasmuch as in the given circumstances we are at the same
time the commanding and the obeying parties, and as the obeying party we
know the sensations of constraint, impulsion, pressure, resistance and
motion, which usually begin immediately after the act of will, inasmuch
as, on the other hand, we are accustomed to disregard this duality, and
to deceive ourselves about it by means of the synthetic concept „I,“ a
whole series of erroneous conclusions, and consequently of false evaluations
of the will itself, has become attached to the act of willing – to such
a degree that he who wills believes sincerely that willing suffices for
action. Since in the great majority of cases there has been exercise of
will only when the effect of the command – that is, obedience; that is,
the action – was to be expected, the appearance has translated itself into
the feeling, as if there were a necessity of effect. In short, he who wills
believes with a fair amount of certainty that will and action are somehow
one; he ascribes the success, the carrying out of the willing, to the will
itself, and thereby enjoys an increase of the sensation of power which
accompanies all success.


„Freedom of the will“ – that
is the expression for the complex state of delight of the person exercising
volition, who commands and at the same time identifies himself with the
executor of the order – who, as such, enjoys also the triumph over obstacles,
but thinks within himself that it was really his will itself that overcame
them. In this way the person exercising volition adds the feeling of delight
of his successful executive instruments, the useful „under-wills“ or under-souls
– indeed, our body is but a social structure composed of many souls – to
his feelings of delight as commander L’effet c’est moi: what happens
here is what happens in every well-constructed and happy commonwealth;
namely, the governing class identifies itself with the successes of the
commonwealth. In all willing it is absolutely a question of commanding
and obeying, on the basis, as already said, of a social structure composed
of many „souls.“ Hence a philosopher should claim the right to include
willimg as such within the sphere of morals – morals being understood as
the doctrine of the relations of supremacy under which the phenomenon of
„life“ comes to be.

20 That individual philosophical
concepts are not anything capricious or autonomously evolving, but grow
up in connection and relationship with each other; that, however suddenly
and arbitrarily they seem to appear in the history of thought, they nevertheless
belong just as much to a system as all the members of the fauna of a continent
– is betrayed in the end also by the fact that the most diverse philosophers
keep filling in a definite fundamental scheme of possible philosophies.
Under an invisible spell, they always revolve once more in the same orbit;
however independent of each other they may feel themselves with their critical
or systematic wills, something within them leads them, something impels
them in a definite order, one after the other – to wit, the innate systematic
structure and relationship of their concepts. Their thinking is, in fact,
far less a discovery than a recognition, a remembering, a return and a
homecoming to a remote, primordial, an inclusive household of the soul,
out of which those concepts grew originally: philosophizing is to this
extent a kind of atavism of the highest order.


The strange family resemblance
of all lndian, Greek, and German philosophizing is explained easily enough.
Where there is affinity of languages, it cannot fail, owing to the common
philosophy of grammar – I mean, owing to the unconscious domination and
guidance by similar grammatical functions – that everything is prepared
at the outset for a similar development and sequence of philosophical systems;
just as the way seems barred against certain other possibilities of world-interpretation.
It is highly probable that philosophers within the domain of the Ural-Altaic
languages (where the concept of the subject is least developed) look otherwise
„into the world,“ and will be found on paths of thought different from
those of the Indo-Germanic peoples and the Muslims: the spell of certain
grammatical functions is ultimately also the spell of physiological valuations
and racial conditions.


So much by way of rejecting
Locke’s superficiality regarding the origin of ideas.

 

From Beyond Good and Evil, Chapter One, „The
Prejudice of the Philosophers“ Helen Zimmern, Trans. (1974).
But today this sense of transcendental
critique concerning language is long lost and it is widely believed that
language, as empirically grasped, determines consciousness. If the paragraph
of Nietzsche quoted above were read without this sense of transcendental
positionality, it would be disastrous. Japanese, for instance, is one of
the Ural-Altaic languages. But, is it possible to say that Japan has its
own philosophy different from that of the West because of its language?
There are many philosophers in Japan who literally believe so. But one
point should be clarified: there is a vagueness in Nietzsche’s assessment
of the Ural-Altaic languages that in them „the concept of the subject is
least developed.“ In an agglutinative language such as Japanese, subject
is neither absent nor omitted. It is simply that there is no subject equivalent
to that in the Western languages. This point is misunderstood in Japan,
too, because when modern linguists in Japan produced Japanese grammar,
they did so by directly introducing Western syntax. No wonder the syntax
does not adequately explain the language, and the idiotic question whether
or not there is a subject in Japanese has flourished ever since. In Japan,
there are even cultural essentialists who want to ascribe the sense that
Japanese lack independency and individuality in their actions and decision-making,
or that they tend to coexist in one harmonious community, to the lack of
subject in the national language. Needless to mention, they have never
referred to other Ural-Altaic languages.
Moving to Nishida, Karatani needs the copula and its
„lack“

It was a linguist, Motoki Tokieda,
who offered the most successful theoretical account of this issue in Japanese.
According to him, in the Indo-European languages, subject and predicate
are connected by the copula, while in the Ural-Altaic languages such as
Japanese, the predicate/verb that comes at the end of the sentence synthesizes
the whole. It follows that the subject-particularly the person, which can
be judged by the conjugation of the predicate-is often unnecessary. It
is somewhat similar to Latin: i.e.,
cogito
already contains the sign of the first person in its inflection, therefore
the independent subject, je in French, is omitted. Furthermore,
in Japanese, the person also alters according to the relationship between
speaker and listener (their age, gender, class, etc.), so that the subject
is far from the „I“ or Ich that assumes a substance in and of itself
beyond relationalities.
NOT at all similar.
OUR NEXT TASK WILL BE TO SCRUTINIZE KARATANI’S CLAIMS WITH THE AID
OF LINGUISTICS AND SEMIOTICS. THE SECTIONS OF HIS ESSAY I ARRANGE IN THE
FINAL PART OF THIS TABLE WILL FACILITATE THIS ENCOUNTER.
And what Nietzsche’s account of
language really points out is that the new subjectivity tends to be confused
with the old one if one’s thinking remains in the domain of Western grammar.
For instance, Emile Benveniste writes, „It is in and through language that
man constitutes himself as a subject. . . . ‚Ego‚ is he who says
ego‚.“ (224) In the West, this sort of recognition itself was sensational.
Cogito
exists in the very position that makes it possible for him to vocate the
above statement, but passes by immediately after-which is transcendental
par excellence. The position, however, can never be encoded in a common
language. And certainly, in Japanese, where the first person pronoun alters
according to its relationship with the receiver of the message, the firstperson
is never confused with subject. The epistemological and grammatical subject
never form a concrete unity as in Western languages. But this convention
does not necessarily prevent Japanese from composing their psychological
self/subject, while at the same time neither does this grammatical condition
allow Japanese to go beyond modern subjectivity.
And certainly, in Japanese, where
the first person pronoun alters according to its relationship with the
receiver of the message, the firstperson is never confused with subject.
The epistemological and grammatical subject never form a concrete unity
as in Western languages. But this convention does not necessarily prevent
Japanese from composing their psychological self/subject, while at the
same time neither does this grammatical condition allow Japanese to go
beyond modern subjectivity.


Post-Modern
Japan Forum One
Post-Modern
Japan Forum Two
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Study Guide One Study Guide Two Study Guide Three
Study Guide Four

Post
Modern Japan


Earl
Jackson, Jr.


talkingcure2000@aol.com

Yen
Economies


Variations
Without A Theme


Another
Scene