Saturday, December 31, 2011

The very idea of Filipino philosophy 2

[This is the second part. The first part is here. My comments or annotations in square brackets.]
The possible rejoinder is that Mercado is speaking of diwa, referring to Filipinos and their worldview. From what I gather this is Mercado’s conception: He thinks Filipino philosophy is different from what he supposes Western philosophy is and what he supposes other Eastern philosophies are. Both his suppositions include the idea that each - Western and Eastern except Filipino - has individual philosophers and none of diwa. So now I can take this rejoinder into account as (c) Every Filipino is a philosopher. That is, Filipino philosophy, conceived of as the worldview of the Filipinos also conceives of all Filipinos as philosophers by virtue of having a Filipino worldview.  
Mercado’s conception, however, does not exclude the possibility that there may be other places wherein one may say there is a “philosophy of the people.” Of course, that would also mean that there does not seem to be any identifiable individual philosopher. But then again, this is just another way of stating that whatever that place might be; all the inhabitants of that place are philosophers.
Another characteristic of Filipino philosophy according to Mercado (1974: 67) is that

Negatively, the Filipino’s world view is nondualistic. This should not be taken to mean monism, for monism can mean either an emphasis on the subject (idealism) or an emphasis on the object. The nondualistic world view or horizon acknowledges the distinction between object and subject. Positively, the Filipino wants to harmonize the object and subject

Before this passage, Mercado introduces this as the “underlying principle” or “leitmotif” of Filipino philosophy. But how did Mercado determine this? What were his methods? How did he justify it? In the next section I discuss Mercado’s method in order to deal with these questions.

            To speak of a “philosophy of the people” as Mercado does, one may readily think of anthropology, sociology and the other social sciences in determining such. For again, Mercado’s conception of Filipino philosophy is diwa, the worldview of the Filipinos. One must use these social sciences in order at the very least record the worldview of the Filipinos. I will not touch upon the methodological problems in determining what a significant sample of Filipinos is for determining what a “philosophy of the people” would be. But this is an issue that cannot really be ignored for what if there are significantly different worldviews for Filipinos as a whole? How can one say that such a sample is a representative sample of the “philosophy of the people”? 
Mercado (1977: 6-9; 1985: 63-4) contends that it is in analyzing the language that one finds the worldview of the native speakers of such a language. Mercado justifies his use of “metalinguistic” analysis in this view of language. His analogy and justification with this view of language is by claiming that Aristotle would have had different categories if he used a different language. This is highly problematic4.
Mercado’s work is therefore, replete with examples culled from the dialects of the Philippines and his analyzing them. Mercado, perhaps aware of the problem of what a significant sample is, further qualifies that he used this kind of analysis with the three largest spoken Philippine languages.  Mercado (1985: 64) adds further support for his method of analysis by writing that:

The reports received were positive. For instance, one professor from the University of the Philippines intentionally did not read my writings, but tried a statistical approach to discovering the Filipino psyche. After reading my works later, she wrote that the facts obtained through the metalinguistic approach had paralleled her findings through the statistical approach.

I do not know in what way this professor’s work “paralleled” Mercado’s work. Mercado simply states that it does. 
            In a reworking of his 1985 article Mercado5 (n.d.) writes that

the meanings of words are not sufficiently reflected in a dictionary: the nuances of terms have to be verified in a people's practices and beliefs. That is why the phenomenology of behavior is a complementary method which may confirm the findings of the first method.

So what is a phenomenology of behavior? One may well remember that phenomenology deals with the first person point of view (subjective)[Maybe I should have put starts from. But Mercado is trying to drive at the first person point of view.] .  One may also add that the behavior here might refer to the third person point of view (objective) or more strongly as the denial of the subjective by Skinnerian behaviorism. In this view there is a problem of reconciling subjective and objective with this kind of analysis6. But what does Mercado (1977: 11-2; 1985: 64-66) mean by “phenomenology of behavior”? Basically, it is the use of phenomenology (in the typical first person point of view) on the results gathered by social scientists. This may very well translate as: the personal insights of the inquirer (thoughts about the data) and the results of the social scientists (data). Mercado (n.d.)7 justifies his approach by saying that:

However, one philosopher cannot have the first-hand experience of everything. Where such data is wanting, s/he therefore has to rely on the findings of other social scientists. The use of anthropological data is by no means to equate them with philosophy (or theology), as some critics may imply. Phenomenology is a methodology, while philosophy is the result of the methodology used.

The problem here is that just about anyone can have some insights about such data. The issue skirted here is how such insights are valid and philosophical. To say, against critics who think Mercado is doing anthropology, that “philosophy is the result of the methodology used” is either a truism or presumes that anyone with insights developed from anthropological data has philosophical insights.
This presumption is problematic because practictioners of the disciplines in the social sciences, for examples, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists etc., do provide insights with the data that they have gathered. Social scientists do this at conferences, seminars and dissertations. So does that make the social scientists’ insights automatically philosophical? But then again, on Mercado’s terms, if these were Filipino social scientists then they would be philosophical. So why not just have any Filipino look into anthropological data? Mercado (n.d.) in the next sentence implicitly and perhaps unwittingly answers this by writing that, “One check of its validity is its consistency of explanation as well its ability to predict future phenomena.” Is it not the job of social scientists to validate the “consistency of explanation” and to determine the “ability to predict future phenomena”? 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!

   Before the web gets clogged up. Decided to post this. Thanks for everyone who has visited It appears Facebook is not cooperative in sharing from Blogger without some of their specifications. Maybe I'll figure that out.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Guardian article on Less Than Zero (by Bret Easton Ellis)

In Less Than Zero (Bret Easton Ellis)
I saw the above as a link on Bret Easton Ellis's Facebook page. Holloway writes:

Less Than Zero is as slippery as the characters that haunt it. It draws us in only and precisely to the extent that we share its inability to care about anyone within its pages. We both identify with Clay's disgust and find ourselves disgusted by him in turn. But maybe his slow realisation is one of self-loathing? No, there is nothing noble, no sense of discovery, about Clay's repulsion. It is purely the product of an existential laziness; an accumulation of holographic detritus that results from not being bothered to dial out. As the book closes, images play over and over in his head of the thoughtless, causeless, affectless brutality he has left behind. Only they aren't even real images, they're the words of a song playing on the radio, an echo of a world that itself is a shabby echo of reality. And while Clay slips away into who knows what (only, of course, thanks to the recent Imperial Bedrooms, we do know what) with those echoes playing like the last tracking glitches slowly tuning themselves out of his head, we know that both he and Los Angeles remain fundamentally the same.
 Only for us it's slightly different. Our "images so violent and malicious that they seemed to be [our] only point of reference" don't fade. They are a cold condensation running down the inside of our skull. The frictionless chill of Clay's world does touch us, planting a small seed of winter inside us that refuses to leave. Because Less Than Zero is not about Los Angeles, or the 80s, or drugs, or hipsters. It is fundamentally true. It's every time we turn on the news. It's every time we pass splintered glass on the road. It's every time we walk down the street with our headphones on. It's every time we close our eyes and go to sleep leaving the world behind. Maybe that's Less Than Zero's redeeming feature. As the shard of ice, the frozen mirror that embeds itself inside us and pricks our conscience with our blank reflection at each of these moments, maybe it is a bud of hope, of change, of spring. But I can't help thinking, I hope it isn't.
"Disappear here."
"This is not an exit."

Goodbye Michael Dummett (1925-2011)

Guardian Obituary