One of these days, I want to write something about intellectualism and madness, particularly paranoia. Some initial points:
- The phantasmal nature of intellectual abstraction (how in proposing to give an account of the absolute, intellect introduces something otherworldly and with a life of its own into the world).
- The paradox that suspiciously simple abstractions (right, law, soul, sin, cause, evil) cannot be shaken because of their utility and naturalness while efforts at giving more concrete accounts (through various characterizations of the so-called absolute) result in seemingly bizarre concepts and ever-more difficult prose, thus reducing the practical utility and, somehow, worldliness, of the supposedly concrete accounts. See, for example, Being and Nothingness as an attempt to express an astonishingly commonsensical proposition in just about the most convoluted and dizzying way possible.
- How the pursuit of the “concrete abstraction” (or the dream of complete conceptual represenation) lead, in the 20th century, to various forms of aphorism, parable and symbolic speech intended to influence intellectual thought. How the resultant difficulties in interpretation created confusion for intellectuals split between their inability to directly assess the arguments in texts and the difficulty of choosing between schools of thought resposible for presenting modes of interpretation.
- The paradox restated: how the direct utility of theory decreased in inverse proportion as its ability to describe the fullness of ethical and social realities (e.g., Foucault’s crystalline matrices).
- The unhealthy habits of intellectuals (reading, isolation, writing and perhaps stimulated inwardness).
- The problem of knowledge complexity generally
- Let me stop here. Is anyone interested in this, or is it boooring?