Thursday, May 18, 2006

Faculty Follies - Plain Speaking from Professor Elizabeth Grosz

The full text of this interview with professor Elizabeth Grosz may be found here. But the extract below is representative. She obviously wishes to be considered deep. Too deep perhaps for orginary plebs to understand. But in fact her pontifications are merely gibberish - flatus dressed up as afflatus. I also think it likely that she is the type of person who likes to smell her own.

The university is an institution designed to produce epistemology, yet I think it is contested precisely because what’s at stake is always a certain ontology. It remains political precisely because it is about ontology, about a real. Now, I don’t think we can or should abandon epistemology. We can’t have any access to ontology except through epistemology. Epistemic questions always mediates our relationship to ontology. The solution for the last 50 or 100 years–since logical positivism if not before–has been to pretend we’re not really making ontological claims, we can’t really invest ourselves in any project apparently linked to metaphysics. We cannot continue that pretense anymore because we make ontological commitments every time we make epistemological ones. We need to have a fantasy of the representation of the world in order to act in the world. And, following this, knowledge is our way of acting in the world. Its not just simply conceptual. It’s always pragmatic. It is our way of living off the non-living, of being in the world, which is an ontological existence, basically rendering this real, the world, to our own needs. It is not as if we can act differently: one of the very purposes of knowledges and of sciences is their ability to generate reliable practices in the world. But we must at some political level understand that that knowledges, epistemologies, are a kind of theft from ontology, from the real. We have to take from the world what our knowledge of it allows us to. This is really hard to think in political terms precisely because politics is always trying to fight itself out over epistemology, but it is in fact ultimately grounded in ontology and what I would call an ontological debt. The first person to do this in a really comprehensive way is Derrida. He made it clear that whenever we think that we are setting up an opposition, we’re actually buying into the very terms we’re trying to eliminate.