The Subject

We can always talk about a subject. But then sometimes we talk about the subject. For philosophers the subject is very important, and so it’s generally assumed every time someone starts talking about philosophy. Sometimes, though, I wonder if philosophers are a little loose in using terms, and then assume that philosophy is getting anywhere if we begin to define are terms more definitely.

Interesting that in order for Philosophy to work for a lot of people is that we have to define with more definition. And then it is also really interesting to me that at least a few philosophers have made a career on writing large volumes about how words just lead to more words. lol. I’m wondering how words contain any meaning at all, but then also how definition is then anyway attached to meaning. Why should the definition have a meaning? Does meaning have definition?

Until we come back to the subject. Because it’s a very loose term. And often times I think it’s so loose that if we are really trying to Find something through philosophy that has substance, breadth and depth, we forget that words are just floating around, like being juggled with one another. I wonder when we ever get to some thing substantial. Is it real or is it true? Are we talking about a subject, the subject, a human being, a finger, a brain, a mind, consciousness?

And like I said, this is lead more than a few philosophers to say that Being is like a machine. Like, all things are just processors. It’s amazing how many pages of text we can write about nothing. Because really if language is always just involved with more language, discourse more discourse, then we are leaving something out which is really substantial. The question that comes up for me is how am I able to link what is Substantial, real, significant, whatever term we want to use to attempt to get to this thing that somehow is always laying outside of the eternally referential discourse, to the discourse itself. It’s almost ridiculous. Because in the end we have to admit that philosophy is doing nothing at all. And that it’s involved with nothing. Which is to say, except so much as we believe that there’s something behind it, something underneath it, something outside of it that’s pulling somehow, some sort of black hole of truth around which and into which discourse floats and get sucked into and spewed out and twisted and straightened and flattened out.

So, really what we find is that The subject is something that is embedded into discourse, assumed, but never revealed. And I think that is to say that where we think that discourse is revealing something of the subject, we must be involved with something that is allowing what is ultimately void or nil to pop through the façade of discursive entanglement. The philosopher Alain Badiou really just describes for us this situation, but I don’t think he really ever tells us just, logistically, how this can happen. And Slavoj Zizek — you gotta love Zizek (or hate him) — I love that he just gives up on the whole thing and says that there “must have been some sort of great catastrophe” that occurred somewhere back in pre-history, before time, at the beginning of the universe. 

But I think it’s really simple, and it’s some thing that especially philosophers don’t want to admit because as a philosopher who’s trying to do philosophy as a way to make a living, we definitely can’t cross lines to suggest that philosophy is actually nothing more than any other round of discursive reference, similar, say, to a religious discourse.

Yet , The simple answer is that the only way through which nothing can be referenced in its substance through discourse, or spoken of as the subject, is to have faith, to believe that it is the case. Hence, when we stop believing, when we stop having faith, what we find is the truth.

And then we can get to start with Kierkegaard about how actually a true faith, a functional significant and substantial authenticity, is found in a faith that occurs despite what one would believe. 

8 thoughts on “The Subject

  1. When you do republish it please put up the new date, leave it there without modification. I am taking a “worts-and-all” policy. If it has mistakes don’t be it. We cannot have a discussion when we keep changing the text.

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  2. Lance, If you are writing on your mobile phone (iOS) and publish from there (or on a desktop version after that) the date needs to be reset to “publish immediately” before hitting the publish button (on either iOS or desktop version). Otherwise your post will publish on the date of first editing on your iOS app.

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