I am not at a partial loss but a complete loss to comprehend a long letter written by diaspora WPA official, Rohit Kanhai (‘What is Kissoon’s philosophical standing?’ SN, April 19). If Mr Kanhai could kindly respond and point out the areas of his letter that he would like me to respond to I would gladly do so. In fact his missive is not about me in the real sense. There are no questions directed at me except the caption of his correspondence. I am barely mentioned in his discourse. The entire publication is about Mr Kanhai quoting philosophers.
Can I ask Kanhai’s colleagues in his group, WPA Overseas Associates, if they could send me an email and point out for me the areas of dissatisfaction in his letter that Kanhai has with me so we can continue the polemic. But in my heart I do not understand the contents of his April 19 publication.
We start with his rejection of my assertion that he is Marxist. All he had to say was that he is not. But in rebuttal, he goes on to explain the theories of some philosophers that have no bearing on whether he is a Marxist or not. And the philosophers he quotes still do not lead to an understanding of why he is not a Marxist. There is no discussion as to why he would not want to be a Marxist. I assumed all this time he was a believer from reading the huge outpourings of his defence over the past ten to fifteen years of Marxism-Leninism in his New York paper, Caribbean Daylight.
Mr Kanhai observes that: “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.” That is true, and I also wrote it was the best philosophy book I read. Having cited my choice for Heidegger, Kanhai doesn’t explain why he referenced Heidegger, but goes on to explain briefly the philosophy of Heidegger. You can clearly see here that Kanhai is using his missive to tell readers he knows a philosopher named Heidegger.
It is not in my nature to belittle people’s limited education because I grew up in dirt poverty. But there are times you have to let people know that they need to think twice before they show off and they need to quickly know who they are showing off in front of. I didn’t read up on philosophy as a layman. I was taught the works of the great philosophers by philosopher professors at MacMaster University and the University of Toronto. If Mr Kanhai wants to impress people in Guyana that he knows some philosophy, I would humbly urge he does not use me to deceive others.
This man’s entire letter is an inelegant rambling about philosophers rather than a critique of my politics. The entire letter appears comical because it is not a rebuttal of anything I wrote. Mr Kanhai informs readers that I contextualize dialectics wrongly by confusing the dialectics of Hegel and Sartre. This is nonsense and shows Kanhai is pretending to know about philosophy. I will not respond to him on that score. I don’t have time for such egregious pretence.
What is amazing is that in telling me about my misplaced dialectics, he went off explaining Newton, Einstein and the laws of gravity. What a crazy letter! I do know Mr Kanhai, never saw him or spoke to him by phone, etc, but after reading this April 19 letter, I think I will pass up the opportunity it if it ever comes to trying to get to know him. If he speaks on behalf of the WPA overseas group then it explains why the WPA has reached the sad stage that it is in at the moment.
Mr Kanhai ends his very long letter on me with some criticism of the philosophy of Ernest Mach. There is absolutely no relevance of these final paragraphs to any point in his adumbration. How Mach came to be mentioned remains a mystery. But it is the last three lines of his letter that are weird. He tells us how Lenin read philosophy to formulate government policies. Where did that come from? It has no bearing at all on all the arguments in his letter.