Emergency ventilation of the topic in the face of the post-reality era

In his new work, philosopher Marcus Gabriel explains why we humans and our stories are “fantasies” and why the claim to reality remains.

Written by Stephen Woolting

Book review / references

The innovative outburst of the new work of the philosopher Marcus Gabriel of Bonn, once celebrated as a “shooting star in German philosophy” or a “speculative child prodigy”, consists in the irony of developing a “realistic philosophy of imagination” while at the same time laying the foundation for Objective theory of the human sciences. In this way, he occupies a position different from the positivist understanding of science (“the scientist”, as he calls it) on the one hand, and at the same time from post-structuralist positions on the other.

It’s called fantasies non-social constructions “Exposed”. In this way, Gabriel dialectically arrives at a new realistic understanding of the world, which appears in affirmations such as: “The world is not a fantasy” or “Our mental states are an irreducible part of reality (…)”. He asserts that this view is “rooted in the fabric of reality”. As in many of his earlier works, Gabriel also combines ontological descriptions (me-) with epistemological approaches, which in turn leads to the ethical conclusions he published in his work, which appeared around the same time. Moral progress in dark times Definitely follow up. in imagination It shows (human) deterministic reality in the sense of “human imagination” and “human capacity for self-portrait”. This is expressed in the field of sensory ontology (SFO) already revealed in earlier works, by which Gabriel became known, the “zoon politikon” who searches for meaning and wants to survive.

Already with the first sentence, he reverses a school of thought of the past decades, particularly French structuralism and phenomenology in the wake of Nietzsche, Hauserl and Heidegger, where it says: “Appearance is Being” (not: “Being is appearance”). This type of appearance is expressed, for example, in the human capacity for imagination or “self-teaching”: people cannot imagine what is directly represented, but imagine or imagine it. In this context, the author distinguishes between fictitious and fictional.

These two terms refer to different (non-) levels of existence, according to Plato’s judgment in PoliteaThat poets lie does not refer to the imaginary level, but to the imaginary level, i.e. not to what is understood (imaginary), but to how something is constituted by our perception (in this case aesthetic experience). Imaginary (unreal) things are, according to Gabriel, as “subtypes of imaginary things” (imagined). It is mainly concerned with imaginary things that we can refer to in its “absence pattern”. Perhaps one could formulate it somewhat simplistically in such a way that imaginary things tend to be “things that do not really exist”, while fiction in a broader sense means the patterns of what is imagined.

This can be illustrated particularly well in relation to literature: this is how Gabriel calls “the fictitious Paris” like the Paris in Michel Welbeck. Map and RegionEach has a different way of being or not. To prevent misunderstandings: Gabriel is not actually concerned with the aesthetics related to works of art, for example in the sense of narrative investigations: even when he talks about the external and internal world, he thinks of anaesthesia in the general sense. global perception.

In doing so, he builds his work on a “realistic premise of inescapable reality”, which “cannot be vanished by the act of any thought or activity”. In this way, it highlights any kind of philosophy that wants to trace reality back to (de) constructions or structural language games. We cannot ignore this fact of our own, which is why Gabriel’s position is called neorealism.

In addition, Gabriel asserts that we humans would not exist as spiritual beings “if we did not constantly repeat the conditions of our survival, which in a social creature like humans can only be achieved through cooperation.” This cooperation is expressed in “It is in our nature to be sociable”. However, this very social nature is not “socially productive,” from which Gabriel concluded: “We do not make ourselves social beings in social ways, we are in fact social.”

In this way, as already mentioned, he opposes a common position, which regards everything as a “social construction”, so that there is no difference between reality and fantasy, and from which, according to Gabriel, the false conclusion of the post-reality age will be completed. At the same time, however, he argues vehemently against leaving the field to the empirical sciences or the natural sciences, in fact going so far as to say that “scientific-technical progress is based on a coherent ontology and epistemology, on which anthropology and philosophy of mind are based” if they are not sooner or later going to lead to Complete self-destruction of our way of life. In this regard, Gabriel takes an unambitious position between these two extreme views, which he also understands as a concrete field of application of his “practical philosophy”.

Before that, Gabriel had gained notoriety by breaking cherished intellectual positions, which is why he is approached by John Searle, who takes positions close to Gabriel (of whom Gabriel spoke). imagination However take off), who was currently called “the best philosopher in Germany”. On the other hand, with such a high esteem, his positions are strongly criticized (which he then quotes by name in the work discussed and certainly makes concessions, for example to James Hill, who wrote an article entitled Expressive. Marcus Gabriel vs the world, later writing against Jürgen Habermas’ concept of the public sphere), also identifies him as a well-known and controversial public figure. Pronouncing phrases such as “the world does not exist”, “minds cannot think” (and neither do computers) or “the post-truth age is absurd nonsense”, which are also included in imagination It fueled the emergence of this trend. Gabriel once described what was important to him in general as: “To heal one’s time from one’s faults so that we may work better together.”

But what is the best way to approach Gabriel’s new work, in which he has already set the direction with the title: imagination To determine According to Gabriel, in contrast to everyday understanding, an existential intermediate state; They mean “mental events in the gaps of our reference to things in the scenes of our lives”. In doing so, Gabriel – and this is indeed part of his main thesis and explains the inventive force of his work – tries to save the severely battered or partially destroyed subject, which, however, shapes the world in and with his imaginative power. Aesthetic experience and precisely because of this, in its relation to reality – stability of reality remains. The primary intent is the sentence: “Self-harm to the subject, whether naturalistic or postmodern, must be overcome.” (Originally printed in italics, plus SW). According to Gabriel, there is a form of reality that cannot be avoided. This is revealed only to man in the sense of his “deterministic humanistic treatise” in his “Imaginations of Consciousness,” which are conceived in almost classic Kantian fashion: reality itself is beyond the reach of man. The source of imagination lies in the mind, in consciousness, in intent, subjectivity, etc. The things that appear through our perception and actions may be something imaginary, and the perception itself is real, even if it contains a moment of illusion, which Gabriel Imaginary Names.

With regard to the function of the human self-image, the aesthetic experience becomes central. Here one can think of Schiller’s letters aesthetic education He thinks, although Gabriel thinks beyond the educational process. However, perhaps because of his friendship with Daniel Kellman, from whom he quoted before his work, he brings up many examples of dramatic characters from literature such as Faust, Gretchen, Anna Karenina, Macbeth, Jed Martin (from Holbeck Map and Region), which is why some passages may be of interest to the reader interested in literature. In addition, after Gadamer, reference should be made to the concept of man as an interpretive being and to the distinction between interpretation and interpretation, since works of art “exist in the method of interpretation/reception”, while interpretation is “a theoretically articulated analysis of a particular sign”.

In short, Gabriel’s theses can be expressed dialectically as follows: since we as human beings can only think and act on fantasies, no matter what we do, this does not mean that reality will “end” with it, quite the contrary: we can only in imagination He lives, but that’s reason enough for the facts to exist. Because human beings are meaning-creating beings and use their power of imagination based on aesthetic experience to create a reality that is not constructed, but socially constituted. The “human determinism thesis” means the consciousness part of reality.

What is this Makes Gabriel’s work worth reading in every sense of the word It tries very meticulously to deal with these terms. Although some reviews have accused the volume of being too geared towards a niche audience, despite or perhaps because of the strict language, a comparison of certain terms helps a lot in making Gabriel’s thinking power transparent.

Despite objections to the form, presentation, or scope of the work, relatively all critics agree that readers get their money’s worth in terms of cognitive value. At the same time, reading it does not make you stand in a void somewhere, but something like today Zeitgeist Indicated if one wants to accept this term. Gabriel calls for a new engagement with the humanities in the sense of the “end of humility” in the humanities. At the same time, it gives philosophy a mandate to act to save oneself in agony and, through greater conceptual differentiation, to save the world “from the specter of the post-realist.”

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