Analysis of Baudrillard’s Philosophy

Baudrillard is a postmodern, post-structural philosopher known for his unique contributions to the world. His contextualizing concepts rule many concepts like technology, fuzzy logic, functionality, hyper-functionality, end of the symbolic, hypermarket, simulacra and simulation.

Most notable is Baudrillard’s reading into technology. Technology in the postmodern world is structured on the grand narratives of opposition and contrast. There is a debate going on in the world whether should resort to eco-farming or farming with genetically engineered seeds. The environmentalists and the technologists are on warpath with each other. Does technology invade the privacy of the self? Yes, in a way it does. Cyber firms like Google and Yahoo collect personal information and pass it on to generate advertisements. In a technological society we are not free from surveillance. There are also positive impacts of technology like the spread of social media and its use by individuals. Twitter, Facebook and blogs like WordPress and Blogger help to generate public opinion and they also help to report news that has been ignored by the mainstream media.

For Baudrillard there are three levels of simulation and they are the first, second and the third. The first level of simulation is an obvious copy of reality. This can be exemplified by the reporting of news on current events like for example: the coup d’ etat in Zimbabwe. The second level of simulation blurs the boundary between reality and representation. An example that could be used is a model depicting the structure of the DNA model. The third type of reality is the one that is produced in virtual space. To illustrate with an example: let us take the Blue Whale game, a virtual game that leads teenagers into suicide. Another example: would be the editorial comment in a newspaper. For Baudrillard all these simulations work together to create a hyper-technological society.

Next concept used by Baudrillard is fuzzy logic. This could be explained with an example; for example air-conditioning in cars can be set up to function in an auto-mode. Pilots can set flight patterns into an auto-driven mode. These are examples of fuzzy logic. Another example would be war simulated games operated with a computer.

The next concept used by Baudrillard is hyper-functionality. A classic example of hyper-functionality is hypermarkets. In a hypermarket we get to buy all sorts of consumer goods. Today’s postmodern societies are fond of using gizmos. A gizmo is a technological construct made to provide pleasure and utility to consumers.

The next concept used by Baudrillard is the end of the symbolic. I would like to disagree with Baudrillard. As an example I would like to use language. Language is a symbolic construct of signs and signs are made up of the signifier and the signified. A signified is an abstract idea and a signifier is a concrete sensible thing and belongs to the sensate realm. Editorials of a newspaper are symbolic as they belong to the realm of ideas. All our communication through the process of using language is symbolic.

The next concept used by Baudrillard is the simulacra. A simulacra is defined as an original for which no copies exist. An example would be that of the media giving an opinion on current affairs. Depending on whether the media is right or left opinions as a simulacra would vary.

Analysis of Julia Kristeva’s Philosophy

Julia Kristeva is a postmodern, post-structural philosopher, a radical feminist known for introducing many new terms into Philosophical jargon.

Her first concept is subjectivity. Individuals are people who feel, think and will. Subjectivity is process of semantic signification. Subjectivity is closely linked to the ontological concept of being. Philosophy asks questions like what is being, what it means to be a being. Every individual is subjective.

Next comes Kristeva’s concepts like Semiotic and the Symbolic. The semiotic is a realm where the normal rules of language do not apply. The semiotic overthrows the syntax of language. Examples of the Semiotic can be taken from streams of consciousness narrative, poetry, dance and music. The symbolic realm is one which follows the traditional structure of language. Grammar and rules of the syntax are strictly adhered to. Legalistic, political, linguistic and medicinal texts operate on Symbolic norms. Kristeva distinguishes between two types of texts the Geno text and the Pheno text. The Geno text belongs to the semiotic realm and the pheno text belongs to symbolic realm.

Kristeva says that structuralism is synchronic and post-structuralism is diachronic. A synchronic approach begins from a point of time and does not take into account the history of many periods. A diachronic effort takes into account the meaning of a term from different historical epochs. For example: let’s take into account the meaning of the word temple diachronically. Temple as found in the Biblical Old Testament refers to synagogue or place of worship. Temple found in the New Testament refers to the body of Christ and also we have the saying: ‘your body is the temple of God: so don’t desecrate it’.

Next of Kristeva’s concepts is inter-textuality. Language is interwoven simultaneously from many texts. For example a work of fiction might contain idioms and allusions. Reading too is a process of inter-textuality.

Kristeva makes a foray into the Freudian concept of dreams. Freud described dreams as being one of condensation and displacement. A condensed dream shows many symbolic images that can be interpreted. A displaced dream is a dream where the dreamer wants escape from reality. Let’s illustrate it with examples. In a dream I saw I am making love to my significant other in granddad’s house. This is an example of a condensed dream. An interpretation of it would be, I am doing an act where I am desecrating the sanctity of marriage. The house of my grandfather can mean sanctity. Another example is I am seeing my father constantly in a dream. This is an example of displacement. Do I want to shirk my responsibilities of being a father?

Kristeva also questions the stability of the self. The self has to do a tight-rope-walking act between the Id, Ego and Super Ego. A postmodern interpretation would be deify the ID, glorify the Ego and subvert the Super Ego.

Kristeva has also introduced the concept of abjection. Abjection is a process through which one expels what one dislikes. Examples of abjection are feces, vomit and wee-wee. Kristeva uses the concept of abjection for the Nazi hatred of Jews. Hitler felt abject when he was denied of paternity by his own father. And his father being a Jew, Hitler became a tyrant in decimating them.

Kristeva mentions of three generations of feminism, the first wave, the second wave and the third wave. The first wave feminists wanted to be just like men. The second wave feminists imitated the archetypal role of the lover and the mother. The third wave feminists on the other hand balance themselves between alternating roles of being a wife, mother and worker. For the third wave feminists, feminism is glorified and deified.

Analysis of the Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

Appearance and Reality

Russell questions the absoluteness of knowledge and the discernment of the problem in Philosophy.

What is the distinction between appearance and reality? Things which are known by perception are labeled as sense data. The collection of all physical objects is called matter.

Russell quotes the Philosopher Berkeley who said objects do not exist outside the senses. This I think is a deception. Objects exist independently of the senses and come into purview if we are cognizing or perceiving them.

Russell describes the problem of appearance as being philosophical. Is the reality of seeing a thing real? What happens to appearance when we approach its microscopic or macroscopic composition? For example: the size and heat of the sun increases as we go closer to it.

The Existence of Matter

The author introduces Descartes who used to systematically doubt and through his doubting came to the conclusion-I think therefore I exist. Philosophically he asks the question of objects exist outside our senses. I would like to affirmatively: they do.

The Nature of Matter

Physical Science has reduced all objects to motions. For example: light has waves and particles called wavicles.

Idealism

The first advocate of idealism was Berkeley. According to him everything exists in the mind. Here I think there’s a misinterpretation of Berkeley’s thinking. We have to cognize or perceive and that we do with our senses.

The word Know is used in the sense of two things. First of all it means the absence of error. The second aspect of it is knowledge gained by the senses. This is called by knowing through acquaintance. For knowledge by acquaintance we come to knowing of things by our senses. For example when I see a table, I perceive that it is a table.

Russell is not clear by what he means by knowledge through description.

There is an acquaintance with universals that is ideas like whiteness, brotherhood and justice and so on. Nouns and verbs according to Russell use descriptive content.

On Induction

What is induction? Inductive knowledge proceeds from the general to the particular. A syllogism is an induction. For example: All Men are Mortal; Socrates is a man: therefore Socrates is mortal.

There are three laws of thought. The Law of identity: what is: the law of contradiction: nothing can be and not be: the law of the excluded middle: everything must be and not be.

One of the historic controversies is between the empiricists and the rationalists. Empiricists maintain that knowledge comes from experience. Is knowledge a priori or a posteriori that is existing before the known or after the known?

Russell assumes that all mathematical knowledge is a priori. I would like to say that cognizing the verifiability of mathematical truths is a posteriori.

The World of Universals

Do Universals, ideas like justice, truth, brotherhood exist in form or as ideas or are they to put in practice. Plato was wrong to assume that they exist in an ideal form.