Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Philosopher's Corner in the Collapsnik Zone

The other day the denizens of "The Automatic Earth" took a moment out of there normal work of arguing about the details of the upcoming economic collapse of America and the world, to argue about the proper way to interpret Laozi's great work the Daodejing, how to summarize his insights, and what translations to use. But, well, taking about Laozi, isn't really what the Automatic Earth is for.

At Casaubon's Book, the magnificent Sharon Asytk argued that beauty must be an element of proper household economics, even in a collapsing society, but that we must reach for a beauty beyond the sterile elegance of a wealthy home that hides its toasters for the Town and Country photo spread. And I argued that the proper aesthetic goals of a home, should be other relatives of beauty rather than beauty itself, and that the conflation of aesthetics with beauty was a bad side-effect of 18th century reflection on aesthetics from Kant and Hogarth. And Astyk replied, roughly "get your own blog!"

And she is right. If you want to explore the role of energy policy on our collapsing society, and the role of societal collapse on energy policy, well, there are plenty of places in the blogosphere to do that. If you want to step back and look at the big picture of our collapsing society, I recommend the blogs of Kunstler and Orlov. If you want news on the emerging realities of collapse, and first rate commentary on economics, then read The Automatic Earth. If you want advice on adapting your lifestyle to the realities of a collapsing society, the home economics of collapse, then read my wife's Adapting in Place, or Astyk's Casaubon's book. If you poke, you can find blogs of people who are already well-adapted, of foodies, of environmentalists, of optimistic political organizers, of psychologists, and so on.

But I know of no particularly good place to argue about Laozi or the relation between aesthetics and beauty, or the ethics of triage, or the metaphysics of single-etiology causation as it relates to health care, or ... well a thousand little philosophical topics hiding around the edges of the big issues of a collapsing society. So I am creating one. The goal of this blog is to be a place for philosophical discussion of issues related to our ongoing societal collapse. I have quite a number of things to say myself, but I want to make a space for discussions to take place, at least as much as I want to push my own positions. Next time there is an argument about whether despair can ever be a virtue, or whether it is always a vice, I hope that Stoneleigh and Ilargi can say in good conscience, HEY take that discussion over to Self-Referential Collapse, our blog is for economics commentary!

Because philosophy DOES have a role to play in our collapse and our coping with it. Philosophy played a role in letting things get out of hand, and it ought to play a role in helping to cope with the mess were in as well.

Laozi said "little self minimal desires" and therein lies our problem in a nutshell. A strong sense of individual selfhood in the West led to ever expanding desires, and a growth economy that saw minimal desires, or even happiness and contentment as opposed to the need for ever expanding growth.

But Laozi also said "greatest eloquence seems like stammering" and therein lies a warning for all bloggers and blog readers.

So let us inaugurate this little corner for philosophizing in the collapsnik zone of the Blogosphere.
Any thoughts?

[P.S. I didn't really write this in 2010, that is just a trick to keep the introductory post at the top until I fix it]


  1. I'm glad you started a blog where I can discuss/argue beauty and aesthetics with you.

    I am inclined to agree that with Sharon "that beauty must be an element of proper household economics, even in a collapsing society" - except that beauty doesn't have to cost anything. An Ikebana arrangement can be made with a wildflower and a stick. Beauty does require intention.

    Of course there are the Kant/semantic arguments - but that's just running around the question.

  2. I think that perhaps a balance between the philosophy that believes that attachment to nothing, that in essence promotes passive acceptance of whatever and the ultimate immolation of self within the Nirvana of nothingness, and the rabid individualism that Western culture has come to promote at the expense of humanity as a whole, is absolutely necessary. My husband insists that balance is the key to everything in the universe; I both agree and disagree.

    I look forward to your future posts.

  3. Actually, what I replied wasn't quite "get your own blog" which implies that I wanted you to go away ;-), but "you should get a blog" which implies that I want you to have a larger platform than the comments section of my blog.

    Just noting the distinction. And I'm glad you do have a blog.