What is Kissoon’s philosophical standing?

Dear Editor,

Not all those who shout “dialectics, dialectics,” shall enter into the kingdom of philosophy.

Mr Kissoon revealed the dialectical interconnection with his observation on Mr Deon Abrams, asking the question, “Was Freud at work there, Mr Kanhai?”

Absolutely, Mr Kissoon. Freud was at work, here, there, and everywhere, even though he is no longer physically present. That is the nature of the dialectic, which also is at work, here, there, and everywhere. Like gravity, nothing escapes its grip, even when we are free-floating in outer space, imagining ourselves to be weightless, we are still caught in the iron grip of gravity, despite gravity being the weakest of the fundamental forces of nature.

Albert Einstein gave us an explanation for gravity as being the geometry of space in his General Theory of Relativity. It is not an external force as propounded in Newtonian physics, but manifests itself in the nature of matter. It cannot be separated from matter, being part of the definition of matter itself. As Einstein claimed, Space, Time, and Matter were a Holy Trinity.

I make this fundamental point in response to Mr Kissoon’s quote: “If Mr Kanhai claims to understand Marxism then he must be familiar with how Hegelian dialectics work. Thus, he would know the dialectics have left his idol, Roopnaraine behind, or to put it another way, Roopnaraine chose to leave the dialect behind. After all as a Marxist, Kanhai should remember one of the most profound observations by one of history’s most profound Marxists, Jean Paul Sarte: “Man makes the dialectic just as the dialectic makes him.”

Mr Kissoon treats philosophy as ahistorical or supra-historical, raising himself above the crowd. He ties in “Hegelian dialectics” to Sarte’s dialectic, oblivious that the two dialectical moments cannot be the same, because one is historically located within the other, sublimating it. Secondly, to claim that anyone can choose to leave dialectics behind is similar to the claim that one can escape the effects of gravity.

Several years ago, Mr Kissoon had a eureka moment when he claimed that he had found a fundamental flaw in Marx’s thesis that “being determines consciousness.” Mr Kissoon claimed that it was “consciousness that determines being,” standing Marx on his head. Mr Kissoon had confused the “ontological being” with the “epistemological consciousness,” an error in his argument to which he remains oblivious.

Mr Kissoon in recent times, claimed that the German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s book, Being and Time, was one of the greatest works of philosophy, a view shared by many philosophers. Heidegger is accredited with restoring the human content of philosophy, as compared to the philosophy of Marx and Hegel which dealt with world systems, supposedly reducing the individual to the will of the world spirit. Heidegger’s philosophy had its root in Edmund Husserl, his teacher, and is closely linked to Phenomenology and Existentialism. Sartre is located somewhere between the Marxian/Hegelian camp and the Phenomenological/Existentialist one, having written his philosophical treatise, Being and Nothingness in response to Heidegger’s Being and Time. The role of the individual is given primacy over the system. I would leave it to Kissoon to locate himself in the realm of philosophy.

Mr Kissoon’s attempt to label me is sterile, since he displays a profound ignorance of my philosophical groundings. His attempt to brand me a Marxist/Leninist reveals a dogmatic understanding of the word on his part. For his elucidation, let me “Ponty-ficate” on one ‘adventure of the dialectic’ (Merleau-Ponty), taken from a Marxist web-site.

“Lenin’s work Materialism and Empirio-criticism played a decisive part in combating the Machist revision of Marxism. It enabled the philosophical ideas of Marxism to spread widely among the mass of party members and helped the party activists and progressive workers to master dialectical and historical materialism.”

Ernst Mach was a brilliant scientist, whose name is immortalized in the ‘Mach’s Principle.’ The term Mach speed/number is named after him. To ascribe to me an ideological label that does not grasp the immense scholarship noted above is rather misleading on the part of Mr Kissoon. Furthermore, it was Lenin who read Hegel during the revolutionary days to grasp the meaning of events unfolding around him, in order to formulate government policies.

Henri Poincaré’s name is associated with Einstein’s theories of relativity. Professor Peter Galison noted that Poincaré never understood his own theory, even though it was explained by Einstein with greater clarity. Poincaré treated relativity as a quirk of nature, unlike Einstein who treated it as a fundamental law of nature, and this proved to be the critical difference.

Einstein did the same with Max Planck who studied black body radiation, a stumbling block in physics, which was resolved with ‘Planck’s law.’ Einstein convinced Planck that the constant was a fundamental law of nature, enabling it to usher in the era of Quantum Dynamics.

My point is that sometimes even the founders of scientific knowledge do not grasp their own theories. It is amusing when lesser mortals claim to understand them, casting names of philosophers and theories around like pearls to swine, with the intent not to enlighten but to obfuscate.

Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth.” He was defining the law of the lever. In philosophy, where we stand defines the view of the world that we see. A slave sees the world very differently from that of the master, a point Hegel noted in his chapter on the master/slave dialectic. Both views describe the realities as experienced by each individual. Like a chess game, objectivity is defined not from any single player’s point of view, but from a point of view that encompasses both players, defined as a god’s eye view. The problem is that it is an individual who claims this role of being the embodiment of a trinity.

Hegel noted that just as the possession of hands does not make us artists, likewise having a brain does not make us thinkers. He also informed us that the man and the boy both utter the same prayers to god, the former on the basis of his life’s experience, the other mere rote. This was not a condemnation of the boy, but an understanding of the stages of development, of both individuals and society. It is a natural law that “nature abhors a vacuum.” The human mind is not an empty vessel to be filled by knowledge. It is always filled with one set of knowledge, only to be replaced by another set in an ever-recurring process.

The movies, The Time Machine, Back To The Future, The Butterfly Effect, Sound of Thunder, etc, remind us that time is irreversible. Were we able to make one change with the past, the future would be fundamentally altered, sometimes beyond recognition. The problem is that we have no way of knowing it. The ‘What If’ scenario is speculative in a meaningful sense of the word, in that it makes us conscious of the immense power we have in the present to determine the future. Use it or lose it!

Mr Kissoon only understands the present because it is the direct result of actions taken in the past. This is how life unfolds, even though we try to “reverse engineer” things. We are the architects of our destiny. To quote Marx, “men make history, not as they please, but dependent upon historical circumstances directly transmitted from the past… we wear the costume of the past…the dead weighs like a nightmare upon the living…” etc. We fail to recognize our handiwork when confronted by it.

Let me close by asking Mr Kissoon which event in the history of the WPA helped or hindered the removal of the PNC in 1992? Which event in the history of the WPA helped or hindered the removal of the PPP in 2015?

Finally, would Mr Kissoon kindly tell us what is his philosophical standing?

Yours faithfully,

Rohit Kanhai

Around the Web

Comments