Sunday, October 13, 2019
Immunization and Violence :: Philosophy Kant
Immunization and Violence 1. In a text dedicated to Kant as interpreter of the Enlightenment, Michel Foucault locates the task of contemporary philosophy in a precise stance. It concerns that taut and acute relation with the present that he names the "ontology of the actual." How are we to understand the phrase? What does it mean to situate philosophy in the point or on the line in which the actual is revealed in the density of its own historical being? What does an ontology of the actual mean, properly speaking? The expression alludes above all to a change in perspective with regard to ourselves. To be in relation ontologically with the actual means to think modernity no longer as an epoch between others, but as a stance, a posture, a will to see one's own present as a task. There is in this choice, something -- let's call it a tension, an impulse -- that Foucault will call an Ã ©thos, which moves even beyond the Hegelian definition of philosophy as the proper time spent in thought, because it makes of thou ght the lever that lifts the present out of a linear continuity with time, keeping it suspended between deciding what we are and what we can become. Already in the case of Kant his support of the Enlightenment didn't signify only remaining faithful to certain ideas, affirming the autonomy of man, but above all in activating a permanent critique of the present, not abandoning it in favor of an unattainable utopia, but inverting the notion of the possible that is contained within it, making it the key for a different reading of reality. This is the task of philosophy as the ontology of the actual: while on the level of analysis, locating the difference between that which is essential and that which is contingent, between superficial effects and profound dynamics that move things, that transform lives and that mark existences. We are concerned here with the moment, the critical threshold, from which today's news [cronaca] takes on the breadth of history. That which is placed in being is an underlying question of the meaning of what we call "today." What does today mean generally? What characterizes it essentially, which is to say, what characterizes its effectivity, its contradictions, its potentialities? But this question doesn't exhaust the task of the ontology of the actual. It isn't anything other than the condition for asking another question, this time that has the form of a choice and a decision.