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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


In the past decade I haven't read as much academic criticism as I did in previous decades.  However, I suspect that not much has changed; that most literary theorists still stick close to what I've called "those well-traveled titans of tedium, Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx." It's not surprising, then, that most comic-book critics follow the lead of reflective philosophy, given that Freud and Marx offer reductive paradigms which boast the rock-solid integrity of the physical sciences.-- me, THE DEAD-ALIVE HAND OF THE PAST.
My continued reading of Skidelsky's ERNST CASSIRER brought to mind my earlier, somewhat-Hegel-inspired judgment on the majority of those who attempt to practice comics-criticism.  The author reveals that some of the early contacts between Cassirer and the Vienna Circle were surprisingly cordial-- surprising, given that the Circle seems to me largely opposed to Cassirer's way of thinking.  Skidelsky writes of the Vienna Circle:

Their ambition was to establish a rule separating sentences of science from sentences of metaphysics or pseudoscience... Only thus could knowledge be purged of all subjective ideological elements...

However, Skidelsky adds that the Circle played favorites, which is the element that most reminds me of contemporary comics-critics ranging from Groth to Berlatksy:

Standing squarely in the progressivist tradition of Comte and Mach, [the Circle] applied its semantic razor only to ideologues of the Right. Marx and Freud it accepted at face value as genuine scientists. It would have to wait for [Karl] Popper, not himself a member of the circle, to question the credentials of these heroes of the Left.

Cassirer's philosophy of symbolic forms, of course, was one devoted to showing a continuity between all the cultural forms: science, myth, religion, and art. His type of philosophy, then, should be deemed "speculative" while those of the Vienna Circle would be "reflective," as Hegel used those terms, both explicated in my essay referenced above.

I may have more to write on this subject, but for now I'll close by noting Skidelsky's aside that Cassirer also had little use for a similar outlook expressed by phenomenologist Edmund Husserl:

Husserl's idea of philosophy as a "rigorous science" with its own clearly defined remit, technical language, and trained practitioners... was anathema to Cassirer.  Philosophy, in his view, is not something to be sequestered from the life of the mind in general. It is the critique of culture in all its myriad forms.

In this early essay I considered the possibility that Husserl's concept of "objective validity" might apply to finding "constancy" in the world of subjective emotions.  However, as I mention here,  I found that even a quick reading of Husserl's work convinced me that his "hyper-rational approach" was not to my tastes.  The concept of "intersubjectivity" at present has tended to better suit my needs with regard to gauging the "inconstant constancy" of the subjective.

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