One-Dimensional Man


"Wittgenstein's endless language game with building stones, or the conversing Joe Doe and Dick Roe may again serve as examples. In spite of the simple clarity of the example, the speakers and their situation remain unidentified. They are x and y, no matter how chummily they talk. But in the real universe of discourse, x and y are "ghosts." They don't exist; they are the product of the analytic philosopher. To be sure, the talk of x and y is perfectly understandable, and the linguistic analyst appeals righteously to the normal understanding of ordinary people. But in reality, we under stand each other only through whole areas of misunderstanding and contradiction. The real universe of ordinary language is that of the struggle for existence. It is indeed an ambiguous, vague, obscure universe, and is certainly in need of clarification. Moreover. such clarification may well fulfill a therapeutic function, and if philosophy would become therapeutic, it would really come into its own."

"Philosophy approaches this goal to the degree to which it frees thought from its enslavement by the established universe of discourse and behavior, elucidates the negativity of the Establishment (its positive aspects are abundantly publicized anyway) and projects its alternatives. To be sure, philosophy contradicts and projects in thought only. It is ideology, and this ideological character is the very rate of philosophy which no scientism and positivism can overcome. Still, its ideological effort may be truly therapeutic-to show reality as that which it really is, and to show that which this reality prevents from being."

"In the totalitarian era, the therapeutic task of philosophy would be a political task, since the established universe of ordinary language tends to coagulate into a tota1ly manipulated and indoctrinated universe. Then politics would appeal in philosophy, not as a special discipline or object of analysis, nor as a special political philosophy, but as the intent of its concepts to comprehend the unmutilated reality. If linguistic analysis does not contribute to such understanding; if, instead, it contributes to enclosing thought in the circle of the mutilated universe of ordinary discourse, it is at best entirely inconsequential. And, at worst, it is an escape into the non-controversial, the unreal, into that which is only academically controversial."

Chapter 7: The Triumph of Positive Thinking: One-Dimensional Philosophy 

Leave a comment