“What Philosophy Does to the Mind”
Tuesday, April 22, 7–9pm
By approaching the game of truths—that is, making sense of what is true and making it true—as a rule-based game of navigation, philosophy opens up a new evolutionary vista for the mind’s development. Within this evolutionary landscape, the mind is understood as a set of activities or practices required to navigate a terrain which lacks a given map and a given compass—a desert bereft of natural landmarks, with a perpetually shifting scenery and furnished with transitory mirages. The mind is forced to adapt to an environment where generic trajectories replace specific trajectories, and where the consequences of making one single move unfold as future ramifying paths that not only uproot the current position in the landscape but also fundamentally change the travel history and the address of the past itinerary. It is within this environment that philosophy instigates an epochal development of yet unexplored possibilities. By simulating the truth of the mind and forcing it to interact with its own navigational horizon, philosophy sets out the conditions for the emancipation of the mind from its contingently posited settings and limits of constructability. In liberating itself from its illusions of uniqueness and ineffability, and by conceiving itself as an upgradable armamentarium of practices or abilities, the mind self-realizes itself as an expanding, constructible edifice that effectuates a mind-only system. But this is a system that is no longer comprehensible within the traditional ambit of idealism, for it involves “mind” not as a theoretical object but rather as a practical project of socio-historical wisdom.
Throughout this presentation, we will lay out the minimal characteristics and procedures of the game of navigation by drawing on the works of Gilles Châtelet (the construction of a horizon), Guerino Mazzola (a dynamic theory of addresses), and Robert Brandom (the procedural system of commitments). We will subsequently unpack the consequences of playing this game in terms of the transition from self-conception to self-transformation of the mind, as outlined by the New Confucian philosophers Xiong Shili and Mou Zongsan.