Sunday, 21 February 2010

19 February PFLF: Proceedings

Dear all,

Follow the proceedings from the 42nd meeting of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance seminar, on Being and Finance

1) Honour to our group of philosophers: Roman, Alexey, Galo, Fiona, Rezarte, Omar, Slim, Daniela, Zhu, Marco, Francisco, and Laura. Impressively proactive to the loaded philosophical agenda of this Friday.

2) Before introducing us to Heidegger, Joe presented the metrology of knowledge. Metrology identifies a scale of knowledge. Simplifying, at the ‘nominal scale’, knowing is naming; at the ‘interval scale’ knowing is distinguishing entities, incorporating the nominal with greater and less than relations; at the ‘ordinal scale’ knowing incorporating both the nominal and interval scale with the addition of ‘order’ or ‘sequence’; at the ‘ratio-nal’ or ‘ratio-scale’ knowing is based on a perfect description of a real fact, such as, absolute zero being the absolute fact that underpins all temperature. In typical Joe’s style, the theme of the prologue shall re-emerge in all its meaning later on…

3) We consequently turned to a close reading of Martin Heidegger’s “Introduction to Metaphysics”. Heidegger’s metaphysics centre a big haunting idea: “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?”. Heidegger is philosophically sublime in posing his question: “What is put into question comes into relation with a ground. But because we are questioning, it remains an open question whether the ground is truly grounding, foundation-effecting, originary ground; whether the ground refuses to provide a foundation, and so is an abyss; or whether the ground is neither one nor the other, but merely offers the perhaps necessary illusion of a foundation and is thus an unground”.

4) But Heidegger’s affection for Being is not abstract. His yearning is – I’d say – moralist, aesthetic and political: “This Europe, in its unholy blindness always on the point of cutting its own throat This Europe, in its unholy blindness always on the point of cutting its own throat, lies today in the great pincers between Russia on the one side and America on the other. Russia and America, seen metaphysically, are both the same: the same hopeless frenzy of unchained technology and of the rootless organization of the average man. When the farthest corner of the globe has been conquered technologically and can be exploited economically; when any incident you like, at any time you like, becomes as fast as you like; when you can simultaneously ‘experience’ an assassination attempt against a king in France and a symphony concert in Tokyo; when time is nothing but rapidity, instantaneity and simultaneity, and time as history has vanished from all Dasein [Being] of all people; when a boxer counts as the great man of a people; when the tallies of millions at mass meetings are a triumph, yes then, there still looms like a spectre over all this uproar the question: what for – where to – and what then?''. Is the previous passage, ceteris paribus, not familiar to you perchance? Fiona and Daniela read in it the very contemporary critique from globalisation and media studies…

5) Thus Heidegger seems to oppose Nietzsche’s critique to the ‘decadent’ as too decadent itself. According to Nietzsche, the highest concepts such as Being are “the final wisp of evaporating reality”. Heidegger instead investigates whether “Is ‘Being’ a mere word and its meaning vapour, or is it the spiritual fate of the West”? Thence he wishes to “repeat and retrieve the inception of our historical-spiritual Dasein”… “Introduction to Metaphysics” is based on lectures delivered in Freiburg in 1935. We all know where the fetish for history and identity led Germany in the 1930s and 1940s…

6) What has it all to do with finance? Is finance Being? Moving from ontology to epistemology (and consequently back from epistemology to ontology…): What can you know about finance? Recalling the metrology scale of knowledge, can you name ‘finance’ (nominal scale)? Perhaps it depends on what do you mean with finance, which in fact has multiple manifestations. So is there such a thing as finance? Can you classify finance and its concepts (interval scale)? Can you quantify finance (ordinal scale)? This is the state in which most of the advanced financial models are today – it’s about the quants’ job namely… And finally, can you know with absolute precision about finance (rational scale)? There is no rational scale in finance – there are no apparent invariances – and the technical patches are very badly applied. For example, the use of copulas for asset backed securities pre-credit crisis contributed to their disastrous mis-valuation. If you knew finance at the rational scale, as Joe quipped, you would make a trillion, probably not sit in the classroom or if you did you’d keep quiet and be sympathetic.

7) Thus Joe has drawn the following autograph conclusion: “The ultimate tension being individual (trivial) daseins and the great Dasein is the movement between the extremes of Nominalism (nominal--mere naming prattle scale) and the perfect convergence of mind-thought-word-reality in the actions-summa-intentions-of-all-that-is. Because of this universalistic generality, those not party to Philosophy tend to over-estimate its ability to do. Heiddegger, rather, sees genuine philosophy as recessive, moody-broody, in the background, profoundly stirring up the potential of Dasein across the centuries. Scholars beware that their work is less than superficial--it does not even meet the criteria of Nietzche's ‘wisps evaporating into reality’ because scholarship, unfortunately, does not aim at Dasein, of the absolute facticity, of that which imbues our thoughts, but merely catalogues and models dead objects. Philosophy supports the entire movement of Dasein through historicity, through facticity, skimming the appearances of every dimension, and then diving by pure selection to the originary meanings--disappearing below the waves of the day.”

8) More on Heidegger, Spinoza, Wittgenstein, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche and others to come – the group has tested with success, I believe, the weaning from the classic philosophers encountered in the first 40-classes cycle of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance

9) A serious thank to Joe for taking us throughout the metaphysics of finance – Joe is talent…

See you next Friday!

Best, Laura

1 comment:

John Flood said...

Sounds a serious tour de force. I'd wish I'd been there.