7.14.2002

This is not meant to be ironic, but I guess I have not thought deeply enough about "appearance." As I thought through your recent entry comparing acquaintance and appearance I began to unravel. When I speak of appearance, I do so within the traditional opposition with reality. Even here, however, it causes trouble. What I want to say in coming down in favor of appearances is there is only this world. We cannot step beyond it to find a deeper source of unity and truth that this world of surfaces and change merely partakes in. This is pretty much a repeat of Aristotle's criticism of Plato with some ecology thrown in.

The reason for the difficulty is that there is another appearance v. reality dualism that is central to political theory. The Marxian variant is the most clear: what we take for appearances is actually a veil of ideology. An effect of the capitalist superstructure composed of education, religion, popular media, etc. is that these activities combine to shape our perception in a way that affirms the justness or happiness of capitalism. The reality is, of course, that capitalism is most unjust and alienating. If we do manage to feel the pains of capitalism, then ideological appearances direct our analysis away from the actual or real source and toward ourselves. Our corrupt natures make us unhappy, and not this system for production and consumption.

In the context of philosophical discourse, the critique of appearance and reality is cogent. In political theory the whole purpose of the enterprise is to cut through appearances and see something we are not supposed to see. Plato is the first teacher of this. What is it that we are not supposed to see? That our political existence and governments are not natural, a gift from the gods, or an extension of our (flawed) natures. Rather, they are conventions that come into being and can go out of being with a simple change of agreement. This reality is protected by a veil of illusion, a noble lie.

Thanks. I needed to map this out for myself. I mentioned a few weeks ago in reference to the question of race that I confronted a similar problem when moving from a philosophical language game to a political language game.

Thanks also for alerting me to Steve Himmer's response to something I wrote. I'll seek out your help to try to respond. I tried the link but came up with something from Amazon. I think his site is "One Pot Meal." I really like his writing.

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