Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tapping Topic: Consumerism

Tapping Topic: Consumerism

This week we will be at John Harvard's on Wednesday at 7:00. Rides leave from Connelly at 6:30.

This topic is dedicated to John Veit, who suggested I write it way back in the beginning of the year. Godspeed you, John Veit. Godspeed.


So consumerism, you are a sly one, aren’t you? Are you an ideology? Are you an economic state of affairs? Both perhaps? Possibly more? What is the role of the consumer within your context if you are an ideology? Does the consumer attain some sort of personal fulfillment basking in the glory of your shiny objects? Does a consumer equate the choices he or she makes regarding these shiny things with some abstract philosophical sense of freedom? Does this abstract freedom really manifest itself through the purchase of consumer goods and private property? Does the consumer form an identity based on these objects? Do we like buying shiny things?


Some, however, find ideologies in general to be overblown. That’s okay. So what if you, consumerism, are an economic state of affairs that evolved out of capitalism? Are you the economic cousin of liberal democracy? I hear liberal democracy is a pretty laid back dude, allowing people to have their voices heard through representatives that they’ve voted for directly. So if you were liberal democracy’s cousin, would you allow people to express themselves through the way they spend their money, which would in turn support the economic institutions that they patronize? So then, does this economic state of affairs derive from a narrative concerning the consumer’s personal responsibility to find out if the corporations they support make a shoddy product, or participate in illicit activities?


Maybe then, consumerism, you’re straddling both these definitions. How scandalous! But are you really as naughty as they say you are, consumerism, or are you nice sometimes? Who are you nice to consumerism, and who are you a little bit naughty towards? If you’re an ideology, what is your effect on philosophy, art, culture, and attention spans, and what criteria are we going to use to evaluate you? If you’re an economic state of affairs, are there any other alternatives to your presence, or are you working just fine? If you’re both, does your proliferation as an ideology benefit certain individuals in the economic state of affairs at the expense of others?


The best quote ever:

What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again)

Tapping Summary: Promises

Tapping Highlights: Promises

  • Definition: A few different things were suggested as constituting the promise as such. One necessary component to the promise was a sincere intention, in other words that the promising party means to fulfill his promise. We determined that if someone makes a promise lacking in sincerity, that they would be guilty of dishonesty, and therefore a liar. We also talked about the shared context necessary in order for a promise to occur as a communicative act, and that part of this shared context would be some system that allows for determining the judgments true and false.
  • Contracts: We also compared contracts and promises, and I wanted to posit the notion that contracts are simply a written version of promises backed up by the shared context of the government as law. The promise, in my interpretation, is the more foundational act than the contract, as it provides essentially the same structure. There was some dissension regarding the status of a contract as related to a promise, as promises seem to lack that specifically legal character, but I would argue that is a question of content, and not of structure or function.
  • Speech acts: I wanted to argue for the semantic content of a promise being inseparable from the particular event of the promise itself, its utterance as a promise, especially due to the notion of shared context. In this way the promise differs from a statement such as “The cup is on the table,” which is something that is empirically verifiable at that given moment, whereas a statement such as “I promise this topic will be good,” can really only be answered ex post facto, which occurs AFTER the promise is made.
  • Impossibility: Bracketing questions of intentionality, we can talk about unforeseen events influencing the outcome of a promise, also then asserting a certain futural character to the act of promising. Impossibility itself actually came about because Rory suggested art as a sort of completed promise within itself. Art does not fit within the model of an intelligible communicable speech act, and therefore it also is not going to fit within the shared context of being able to judge statements as true or false. So then the hermeneutic question would be, what then does this art mean? Rory wanted to attribute a certain ambiguity to the art’s meaning, not so much that a SPECIFIC meaning was UNCLEAR, but rather that the ambiguity suggests an overabundance of meaning that points towards the infinite. Rory and I both seem to subscribe to this ideology of art (very broad definition of art) in a way being the definitive foundation of human existence, and so I took it a step further in saying that this ambiguity of art’s fulfilled promise extends to all promises as such.
  • Faith: So how does one cope with this fundamental impossibility of a promise, at the moment of its utterance? We already determined that the promise is not empirically verifiable at that point, which is a fairly acceptable model for making truth claims, so how does one accept a promise? It seems then there has to be a shared context of good faith with both parties, in order for the promise to perform its function. Examples in which there might be this shared context of good faith, or trust, would be instances where friendship or love is present between the two parties.
  • Everydayness: Separate from all this speech act business, are the way promises function in everyday life. I wanted to argue that throughout the day people are implicitly participating in promises with their government and their fellow citizens in order to maintain civil society as such. The notion of money specifically came up as a promise that carried a lot of weight today in society. Therefore if someone considers themselves to be a reasonable human being today there are many promises that they have to implicitly accept, and if these promises have the character of futural acts of faith that are fundamentally impossible, there is a certain extent to which the domains of faith and reason are co constitutive.
I love content. Don't you?
Love and Peace,
FP