Language, Desire, and Theology: A Genealogy of the Will to Speak

Language, Desire, and Theology: A Genealogy of the Will to Speak

Language, Desire, and Theology: A Genealogy of the Will to Speak

Language, Desire, and Theology: A Genealogy of the Will to Speak

Excerpt

Language, Desire, and Theology looks at the life of the mind through the lenses of an author whose awareness of her being is invariably an awareness of coming to be and ceasing to be.

For the intellectual, the philosopher, or the scholar, the life of the mind becomes the instrument, if not also the matter, for a life’s work. But the notion of a life’s work requires a view of time as something linear, with a single beginning and a final end, where one’s work is either in progress or completed. Instead of linking the creative or philosophic mind to the work of one life span, this book likens the life of the mind to a life of labor. There is an insistence to thoughts, and if a train can be followed, then good work ensues, but thoughts do not necessarily follow as does the intended effect of a freely determined cause. Thoughts wander. Focus is lost, or, in any case, it is never permanent. Hence, a mind labors if it is going to work.

If it yields a life’s work, then the life of the mind is a life of labor. Yet, not many think of a philosopher’s life as a life of labor, and not many think of a philosopher’s work as a useful product for consumption. Already in early Greek philosophy, contemplation or theoretical study are most noble because they are least useful for staying alive.

By comparison, guarding the cavemen’s campfire, while labor intensive, useful for survival, and a primordial responsibility, is far from being as useful and primordial as knowing how to start a fire. Labor is not of necessity useful, efficient, or productive, but it is always hard. Furthermore, the labor derived from children chained to the hand loom is not necessary to human welfare, though it is efficient and economic for the production of fine Persian rugs. It is the same with the labor produced by an illegal immigrant enslaved in a back alley sweat shop. Labor, even if it is productive, is not always necessary, though sometimes it is compulsory. When labor is not a choice, but . . .

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