Monday, April 11, 2011

Levin on politics

In the IPS thread on religion and politics Balder brought up David Michael Levin's book The Listening Self, which has a section on politics. He scanned the section and stored it at this link.

Balder said:

He's talking about Merleau-Ponty's intertwining in relation to the body politic, schemas, Marcuse, Foucault (whom he praises for his inclusion of the "body" in political thinking, but criticizes for having too narrow a vision of body and not adequately conceiving of the "lived body"), Lacan, Habermas (whose communicative praxis he embraces, but whom he criticizes for too shallow a conception of self).

He is discussing what he calls "Stage III" work or practices of the Self.  He's basing his work here primarily on Merleau Ponty's notion of intertwining, and is appealing to a deepened embodied sensibility as a basis for a more empathic, participatory political order.  In relation to Dawid's recent thread on the role of brain structure in political ideology, he's suggesting that the body's "primordial" schemas, when reclaimed via Stage III work, can be seen to support certain (empathic) forms of political order over others.  Like Rifkin, he rejects as inadequate those earlier psychoanalytic views that saw the body as a "riot of drives."  His approach, here, for cultivating (empathic) sensibility of intertwining and reversibility is "Listening" as a Practice of the Self and an important complement to Habermas' communicative praxis.

I replied:

A couple of things stood out. He argues for a new form of subjectivity, much like we're seeing in other posts above. And that narcissism is a necessary stage in development but that we need to now go beyond it into empathy, another common theme.

I like the Foucault quote in the beginning about not choosing a predetermined political position but imagining and enacting new ones, like we get with Rifkin’s and Bauwens’ P2P.

I also like the idea that we have inherent, pre-rational, embodied schemas (apparently much akin to L&J’s image schemas) to which we must return so as to “appropriately cultivate” (171), in which process we become trans-rational (if trans is the right prefix).

And of course one of my common themes is herein reiterated:

“Only some forms of social organization, only some bodies politic, represent genuinely harmonious developments of the reversibility-structure already schematized in and by the flesh. Since this reversibility-structure inherently deconstructs and contests the ultimacy of the ego-logical identity, and since bourgeois capitalism, more than any other social system, honors and promotes the rule of the ego…it may be fairly concluded that capitalism cannot be counted among those ideal bodies politic most favorable to the harmonious development of the sociability and rationality-potential inherent in our initial corporeal schematism” (180).

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