Monday, January 28, 2008

Tapping Philosophy: Limits

Hello Tapping,
Thanks for everyone who came out last time, we had a really good discussion on practice, which I unfortunately have not had time to summarize on the blog. However, I have had time to come up with this topic. Again, we will be meeting on Thursday night at Yeats' pub at 8:00, and at Connelly at 7:30. Ideas for future topics are welcome, as well as submissions. Hopefully I'll see you there.

Tapping topic: Limits

Since Immanuel Kant, philosophy has concerned itself with limits, and European philosophy has not really departed drastically from this critical mode of philosophy. Kant concerned himself with the limits of reason, Wittgenstein with the limits of language, Nietzsche with the limits of morality, and Heidegger and Derrida with the limits of metaphysics. What are these limits then? Do limits simply exist as a boundary outside of a given structure or system, such as language, beyond which impossibility or unintelligibility are situated? Are limits the conditions for the possibility of an intelligible system? Do limits play a central role in understanding things, or are they simply peripheral boundaries demarcating things that are not worth addressing? If someone attempts to express themselves outside of the limits, is that expressive action a demonstration of the limit itself, or are they simply spouting nonsense?

Let’s take a phrase, or an idea that seems limitless and put it into questioning. Let’s use the phrase “infinite possibilities.” What might this phrase mean? Is it a sort of tautology, like “I think I am in pain,” because no one could logically recognize how it might be the case otherwise (if you were actually in pain)? In other words, does the phrase “infinite possibilities” actually SAY anything, or does it simply show something abstract about the already defined nature of possibilities as such? Is the notion of infinite possibilities actually the demonstration of a limit?

Philosophy is nice, but religious dialogue has traditionally grappled with ideas of limits as well. Is there any difference between a limit demonstrated by philosophy and a limit revealed by religion, or are they addressing the same sorts of problems? What sorts of things are often demonstrated as limited by religion? Does a concept like God demonstrate a radical finitude for all things that are not God, or is it a psychological reflection of its creators, or perhaps both? Does the idea of God used to demonstrate limitations of human understanding run counter to an egalitarian enlightenment project where humans take responsibility for their own destiny, or is there some way these two narratives can be reconciled?

What might constitute no limit thinking then, or would such a phrase simply be a reflection of a structural impossibility?

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