Sunday, 9 July 2017
A Way To Understand 64 Genders
Certainly one of the most underestimated consequences of Nietzsche's assertion that "God is dead" is the effect that it had on language as meaning-conveyor, in the West.
God used to be the Proto-Signifier-Signified. As signifier, He was directly connected to His signified, the Universe/Creation. In short; the Truth in and for itself. From this it follows that once He was declared "dead", meaning was left with no signifier reference/foundation. The Universe became a "signified" orphan, so to speak - a meaning only onto itself. This was not unlike when, e.g., Thomas Kuhn enthroned Einstein as proto-signifier of the signified Science. Ditto Darwin as proto-signifier
of the signified Life.
Flesh and blood humans are obviously not words... just ask Robinson Crusoe, but, with the passing of time, they, the paradigmatic ones, do become symbols. And language is a system of symbols - comprising signifiers and signifieds, be it in normal language - as in the word 'apple' signifying the crunchy red fruit - or in Morse code, or 2D QR codes.
Back to God; His "death" caused many meaning-giving locales to be questioned in earnest. The first sphere it hit home the hardest was the discipline of Philosophy, obviously.
Enter Ludwig Wittgenstein; a man described by the brilliant Cambridge mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russel as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating". (source)
Despite having no undergraduate degree, Wittgenstein's 75-page book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, plus a few years of (previous) residency, was accepted by Cambridge as a PhD. He was subsequently appointed as a lecturer and was made a fellow of Trinity College.
Wittgenstein sums his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus up as;
"... the theory of what can be expressed (gesagt) by prop[osition]s—i.e.
by language—(and, which comes to the same thing, what can be thought) and what can not be expressed by pro[position]s,
but only shown (gezeigt); which, I believe, is the cardinal problem of philosophy." (source)
His second and final book, Philosophical Investigations, was, basically the decentralisation of Philosophy per se.
"In 1999 a survey among American university and college teachers ranked the Investigations as the most important book of 20th-century philosophy"
Back to the Tractatus; for Wittgenstein, the limits of language are the limits of philosophy. This is all fine and dandy were it not for the fact that Wittgenstein - in true Progressive fashion - conflated language (in general) and (the logic of) mathematics. He was a Padawan of the Zeitgeist of Frege, Russel and Gödel afterall. Formal Logic, a discipline within Philosophy, is simply too mechanistic, too Positivist, to fully express the vast scope of the symbolism language comprises. In short; Wittgenstein is guilty of anthropological reductionism... just like e.g. Al Gore implicitly blames all past, present and future wars on Climate Change. The latter's signifier obviously being CO2.
Back in the real world; Wittgenstein's Tractatus caused the decentralisation of language per se. In the Bible it is written that 'In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was God'. In short; If truth is enthroned, so is language.
All signifiers, in (normal) language, became "floaters" - absent fathers, so to speak. This resulted in all signifieds becoming orphans. E.g. 'there is not love, only evidence of love'.
This adultery of language gave rise to post-modernist philosophers like Derrida who made a career out of this overt linguistic promiscuity. His method of wrecking age-old genetically and culturally-determined signifier-signified marriages was deconstruction. It simply glorifies the grey zone within
dichotomies like, e.g. 'man' and 'women'... both genetically (as in penis and vagina) as well as culturally (as in traditional roles within a marriage).
Derrida, like Nietzsche and all other humans in the Universe, was born to a man and a woman. And yes, he is dead... snuffed by the indestructible signifier-signified marriage made in Heaven, Death.