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Intersecting Philosophical Planes

Philosophical Essays

Bert Olivier

The philosophical essays collected here are predicated on the conviction that we live in a time when all-encompassing philosophical systems can no longer be seriously entertained as a true reflection of extant reality. Instead, an indefinite number of perspectives on – or discursive appropriations of – what is thought of as ‘reality’ are possible. Sometimes they diverge and sometimes they intersect in surprising ways, as these essays show. While the belief in an all-inclusive philosophical system is rejected, the author shows that every perspective displays a coherence and illuminating power of its own.
The collection is divided into two parts. The first considers philosophy, the individual and society, covering themes including the deleterious effects of capitalism on natural ecosystems, the modern conception of ‘immortality’ in Nietzsche’s thought, Lacan’s provocative interpretation of capitalist discourse, the current status of the humanities in universities, individual autonomy, the meaning of ‘identification’, global ‘terrorism’, and Plato’s philosophical self-subversion. The second part gathers together perspectives on the arts and society, with the author arguing that reflections on cinema, architecture and music never isolate these arts from social concerns, but demonstrate their interconnectedness.


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Part 1 Philosophy, the individual, and society 1


PART 1 Philosophy, the individual, and society Chapter 1 Nature, capitalism, and the future of humankind1 What a paradox it would be if the creatures which arguably represent the ‘highest’ point of evolutionary development – humans2 – could be shown to be in the process of undermining the very matrix or natural ground that, over millions of years’ development of organisms from simple to increas- ingly complex ones, first gave rise to humanity, namely nature. How could this be possible? Suf fice it to say, at this point, that it is becoming increas- ingly clear that humanity faces, at present, what is probably the greatest crisis in its – and nature’s – history and existence on earth: the global ecological crisis, and that humans themselves are largely responsible for this sorry state of af fairs. 1 I wish to thank my students and friends who have contributed, in dif ferent ways, to the fact that I set out to write this paper. The enthusiasm with which they have engaged with me in the reading and discussion of (especially philosophical) texts pertaining to the present ecological crisis has strengthened my own resolve to con- tribute to the debate immeasurably. Moreover, the term papers that some of them submitted, have helped me sharpen my own focus. In particular, I would like to thank graduate students David Pittaway, Kerry Wright, Namhla Tshisela, Janelle Vermaak and Marco Olivier for their valuable insights. 2 While it may be claimed – by some social biologists, for instance – that this statement is...

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