phatic/tacit knowledge

February 11, 2009 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

A bit off topic in terms of the readings but, bear with me as I think it gets us somewhere interesting:

Art is reason that makes reason ridiculous

This from the recent Paul Chan lecture at UC Berkeley. He was quoting Theodor Adorno, one of the leading philosophers of the Frankfurt school. In any case, I take Adorno to mean that the kinds of knowledge that have been institutionally sanctioned in the West are empirical in nature: forms of totalizing knowledge in which the world is objectified, rational and measurable; a world that can be taken hold of and understood through cognitive means. Granted, on its face Adorno’s statement seems to resonate with the Kantian notion of the aesthetic experience outlined in the Critique of Pure Judgment as a disinterested one that sets an individual’s reason in to a kind of free play with their imagination and thus indicative of our ontological condition of freedom. However, the distinction should be made between the aesthetic (which, we should keep in mind, has nothing to do with art per se, especially as it is currently understood) and the arts (which are for Adorno seen more as a technical skill or way of making, what the Greeks understood to be poiesis). As such, the arts, for Adorno represent a peculiar kind of knowledge production that lay outside of an epistemology rooted in pure cognition; these ways of making, these engagements with the material world produce another kind of aesthetic knowledge… one rooted in an engagement with the senses; a phatic/tacit and poetic knowledge. Why, then does reason become ridiculous? Because reason and its institutions posit an authority rooted in a knowledge that is as  inadequate as it is incomplete. 



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apologists. what it is, what it do

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