by Rachel Wolfe
There are spaces disciplines of varying thought and practice point toward. Academics call the space critical discourse. Physics refers to dark matter. Spiritualists title the space divinity. Religions name it God. And skeptics call the thread woven between these discourses the very thing to be wary of. We are then, at best, left at uncertainty. Uncertainty positions itself as the friction we revolve around, in our daily lives, economic structures, militaristic ambitions and endeavors, social practices and governmental bodies. The endless schemas individuals and societies develop around these differences has unfolded in a myriad ways, favorable and often detrimental. One could call to question the accelerated rate at which humanity forges on-as if the rate were proportional to a profound delight in the drama of discourse.
For all the advancements in technology, shifts in standards of living, people and nations have allowed a marked increase of violence toward each other and against their selves. Each generation of thinking postulates an exciting, or revolutionary mode of thinking, with little resolution in the reach for the peace or freedom, so many are willing fight and work their entire lives for. So I must pose some questions in this area of concern: Can methodological rigor give rise to superior knowledge? And if such realization is attainable, can knowledge facilitate the transcendence of the struggles articulated by Structuralist theory, particularly Marxism?
German born philosopher, Karl Marx, developed a structure of thinking about society based on economics. He worked alongside Friedrich Engels in the mid 1800’s. Marx is famous for such quotes such as, “ Workers of the world unite-you have nothing to lose but your chains,” (freedom) and “Philosophers have tried to interpret the world but the point is to change it” (action). The interesting points I would like to draw attention to are located just outside articulations, as Marx’s statements gain meaning in the exclusion of these points. To understand the world from a framework of a need to unite to lose chains, is to understand that people or things are deeply separate and of a burden to each other. Boiled down further, this can be explained as a pursuit for freedom. The latter point behaves as a call to action, directly stating the point of being in the world is to change it. To negate an interest in interpretation, which can be related to the question previously posed about methodical rigor giving rise to superior knowledge, leads me to be suspect of such emotive statements. These quotes by Marx stir a visceral response, one could argue is necessary to adopt an ideology without further methodical rigor.
Before applying the query posed for critical discourse, I shall entertain the exploration of Marx’s materialist views, which are quite positivist in nature. Materialists are concerned with things in the context of which they exist, and this stance offers a possible objective viewpoint for methodical discussion. Using tactile examples and understandings of the current state of affairs is in the world, such as the mechanics of agriculture and production of goods for commercial sale, utilizes what I shall call the Frontal Approach to Structuralist thinking. To expand upon the notion of a Frontal Approach in which situations and conditions are articulated via the information available in plain sight, is also reflective of the physical manner in which the eyes predominate the information used to construct several Marxist structures of thinking and understanding. The allure of such a seemingly plain sight approach does not make it exempt from the dangerousness of ideology, in that information lying on the periphery is excluded from the arena of discourse.
Marx’s early career is marked by overtones of the humanistic nature but later was led toward more deterministic, historic and scientific modes of thinking. Arguably his latter life, and what he is most noted for, would seem more appropriate for methodical inquisitiveness and possible transcendence of structure via thinking and attainment of knowledge through said thought work. Marx framed much of his thinking around the notion of the “class struggle.” This structure views history as a history of the clash and out of the clash of class struggle comes something new. This type of discourse leads exactly to the drama at which this essay looks to examine. While Marx’s contributions to the Enlightenment (or making more aware) of man can be attributed to uncovering some mythological structures and archetypes operating via religion and through the dominant class being defined as owning the means of production, such lines of thinking leads toward a violence toward ourselves and toward other individuals.
While Marx argues the violence of the owners of the means of production, what may be considered the 1% today, is enacted upon all classes beneath including the bourgeois and working class, what strikes me as more violent is the compliance that has been internalized from such staid theorists. In other words, the words and ideas of viewing history and present day through the Structuralism of Marxism is not only an act of dancing around methodological rigor, but also that of deep violence toward the self, which becomes outwardly expressed in the masses. Often this violence is enacted through what can be considered covert operation, for example through fetishism or the fetish of commodity. The complex systems that instate behaviors around fetish can be attributed to multiple sources, but it is the thought impaired by the means of viewing the world through the means of production or of class that contribute to the growth of its own belief system. Marixm is a self-perpetuating system that is perfect in itself, but when challenged outside of its definitive confines not only unravels but in the unraveling causes those adhered to such modes of thinking to behave in ways that become destructive to their sense of selfhood, their sense of meaning in life and their mode of being in the world.
My sincere concern for those who are limited by such structured ways of thought is the arrested ability to methodically think in an independent manner, lest they be only the product of their conditions as stated by Marx. To reduce the quality of a human to the product of their conditions, enables a stage for more drama to transpire, that drama being the reification of life and life forms. Regarding life in this manner, and in this case human life, enables behavior that has unfolded to the detriment of developing the ability to engage in more holistic methods of methodical rigor. Without the strengthening of ones ability to engage in a holistic pursuit of superior knowledge, how can one reach the transcendence Structuralist thought? Marxism may offer certain footholds to step onto, to logically wrap ones mind around a set of conditions that materially exists in the world, but it does little to offer action beyond its own system, and so perhaps the intent was to attain superior knowledge via the methodological rigors of Marxism, but it has dead ended as an ideology that functions within itself, and therefore reaches its own limits before it has started.
There is a pervasive belief amongst humans that we are the superior species, and that this superiority comes in part from the ability to engage in critical thought and discourse. Let us methodically inquire about this ability to think and develop meaning and reason from that thinking for the interest of exploring transcendence of such structures. We are fed information through a myriad of sensory organs, which are taken into the nervous system, which is attached to the brain that does the thinking. Let us consider the optical sensory input into this system by examining how we look and see with our eyes. To be literal, the eyes on a human point outward. As soon as one turns his head to the left or right to gain more information, another blind spot is formed, or in the best-case scenario of great peripheral vision, a warping occurs of the information presented beyond the frontal focal range. A number of responses to the physicality of the human form can arise, perhaps irritation and frustration, befuddlement, deeper inquiry into varying possibilities, or perhaps a quiet chuckle of amusement from the recesses of your interiority. Let us further explore the possibilities that arise from the amusement.
At this point, I see little benefit from the favoritism of Structuralist of Post-Structuralist thinking. I propose we move into the realm of holistic thinking for its abilities to function within the cultivated systems operating today and while remaining open to other modes of awareness, thinking and methodological rigors. To further understand holistic thought, may we compare the Frontal Approach with the modes of establishing thinking that reaches for the transcendence of structured thought and potentially arriving at an endless expansion of superior knowledge. Holistic thought allows for the use of structured thought, and even Marxism itself in development of higher levels of understanding and wisdom. Holistic thinking utilizes knowledge from all parts of experience or knowing experiences, including those within the confines of linguistic thought and infuses them with ways of being within the physical body and using the body’s resources to glean information, potentially from sources that reside in the periphery or blind spots. For example, we can employ the material, or the physicality of the actual methods of taking in sensory information and explore them via cognitive, scientific and social discourses, also referred to as the methodological rigors. From there we can look to the mechanisms of the human body for guidance. This approach accepts certain limitations of where the eyes, ears and other sensory organs are placed, and seeks to ignite the delicate sensory perceptive system within the body to expand beyond where those limitations may actual be, therefore exercising the realization that is beyond, or superior, to rigors strictly limited to cognition. This avenue requires the acquiescence of removing barriers that structured thought and modes of being have established and enacted upon for so long. This avenue also requires the acquiescence of responsibility that may impair the function of cognition or sensory systems at the beginning, but as developed, will allow for greater cognitive and sensory capability. Perhaps this may sound as if we must add technology to the human function, but this holistic methodology asks we employ the technology that already resides within the body. The body is connected to a complex circuitry, ample enough to satisfy those who continue to seek out Structuralist understanding, and also satisfies those who seek transcendence of such understandings. In this way, the box of Marx or other Structuralist and even Post-Structuralist theories can exist, along with the all others. The Holistic approach to using methodical thinking to achieve superior knowledge allows for all differences to be expressed, requiring no pursuit of freedom or quest for action, but to seek that which is already available to us, at all times, we simply have to learn to turn these modes of thinking and experiencing on. Consequently the drama we are so accustomed to unfolding is likely to shift, for it must. Nothing is constant, and holistic thinking may provide the resources to the life that realizes our greatest human potential.