Philosophy: From Necessity to Freedom Through Art

14 Jan 2005, Posted by Alexandros in Writings

If putting order into chaos is art, then philosophy is putting an order into the chaos of our minds. If the world can only be presented through our minds then philosophy is putting order on the world itself as it presents itself in our minds.

If art is partly guided by the conscious structuring of chaotic elements then philosophy is not only the tool through which we gain this self-consciousness but also the artwork that emerges from its use.

People talk their minds, and in talking their minds they talk in whatever structure at least survives in common discourse and accomplishes certain communal goals (communication, co-operation, obedience etc.). This structure however, is hardly something fascinating. This structure is both content and form, taking shape not only in what is said, but the way that it is being said.

Philosophy is all about disrupting the common structure of thought. It is in playing with forms, in creating and re-creating concepts. Philosophy is essentially artistic. We could even say that philosophy is even more disruptive than art, for in art the creation of really new forms is not necessitated by the nature of the discipline. Philosophy is war by nature, art is not. Since “war is the father of all things”, need we say that it also brings forth change, novelty?

Regular, instrumental thinking, thinking in which the ends are fixed, is not radical thinking but resembles an effort by an engineer to improve a device with a fixed end, like improving a washing machine. Philosophy on the other hand is a radical activity in which the improvement is not merely in the means but also in the ends. It is an activity that might start by wanting to make a better washing machine and end up with a spaceship. Is therefore, philosophy a practical, worthwhile activity?

But don’t you see that what is practical is necessarily enmeshed with what goals you consider achievable and desirable? If philosophy is an activity that makes you transform both ends and means, then it is by definition an activity which cannot easily accept a predicate like “practical” in its everyday use.

This is why Nietzsche thought philosophy was primarily legislation. What does legislation presuppose? A legislator. And does a legislator depend on someone else in order to make the laws of his life? No. So we see that Nietzsche’s conception of philosophy is necessarily connected with freedom and autonomy. The legislator is free and autonomous. Could a legislator be heteronomous? Then he wouldn’t really be a legislator – he would be a lawyer. Assuming that the legislators are not the ones who simply write down the laws, but the ones responsible for creating them. If the latter, then a heteronomous legislator would be a contradiction in terms.

Is self-awareness implied by autonomy? No. A population may enact the laws that it creates yet be unaware of its autonomous nature. In fact, that is the history of mankind – till ancient Greece.

Philosophy is a process of ever expanding self-awareness by which we liberate ourselves from contingencies posing as necessities by virtue of ignorance.

It is an expansion of our realm of action and possibility. It is the arduous path from necessity to freedom.

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