Philosophy criticism

In a video lecture by Graham Harman he predicts that in the future there will be something called Philosophy criticism. Philosophy criticism will not be disagreements with philosophies but aesthetic criticism of philosophy itself. Now it is unclear if he means...

1: Literary criticism of philosophical writing,

or 2: criticism and aesthetic appreciation of philosophy as an art form in itself, separate from writing, like a wine critic, but for philosophical ideas?

Because the first choice is a real craft, I will choose to look at the second in this essay/dialogue. But also I will ramble off path a fair amount.

What does this definition even mean? No seriously, tell me: A short dialogue.

The Voice: Philosophy criticism cannot exist. This second thesis implies that you can have criticism of an artform without a medium of presentation. An Aesthetics of pure ideas is too abstract and ungrounded. This is similar to the idea that worldbuilding is an independent artform. It’s hard to argue that worldbuilding is an artform on its own. Worldbuilding is always presented through a medium (writing, maps, movies, music, ect). Setting is a literary device or a genre not an artform. Philosophy likewise is always communicated. Philosophy is a type of writing. You can’t give criticism of ideas directly. Whatever that means.

The Paracosmonaut: No. I could invent a philosophy in my head. And experience the ideas as beautiful. Furthermore, I feel the ideas that I read. Successful communication results in a transfer of ideas, so I can then criticize them. I would even go as far as to say that your position is somewhat ridiculous. To believe in what you say you must claim that literary critics only talk about language and never about themes, plot, character, or worldbuilding. Criticism of philosophy is just as possible as criticism of worldbuilding. The Voice: You betrayer! Aren’t you undermining the distinction this essay is premised on. You’re arguing against the distinction between options (1) and (2). I can’t expect to hold good faith debate if you are disagreeing with our agreed subject of debate. Everything just breaks down.

The Monocosmonaut(the pair of cosmonauts broke down): Yeah I am. I guess I have to to fight for truth, or something…Like I do disagree with the distinction. I don’t think pure solipsistic idea criticism is very useful. It’s more interesting if you communicate with other people. I don’t care about the criticism of something only you have acess to! Like an idea in your head!

Other Monocosmonaut: I do agree with the distinction. I want to ideally sit and navel gaze all of my days. Concern myself wholly with beauty and not with pathetic things like truth. Ruminate on pain and death. Useless stuff like that. Tasty tasty tasty. Each idea I have tastes like honey and feels like god. Just think of how good sitting around feels.

The First Monocosmonaut: okay. That’s cool. I do that sometimes too. But I don’t think other people care that I think that “God is an illiterate dragon made of Mountain Dew and asphalt” but I think too much of that is bad for my brain.

The Voice: Y’all are so lame. Argue for the criteria of the debate next time.

The First Monocosmonaut: Sure. You could do literary criticism of philosophy that never once mentions the medium itself. Also i keep saying literary, you could have a philosophical movie, or piece of music.

The Voice: it would still be tainted by the impurity of the medium.

The First Monocosmonaut: If the only copy of The Great Gatsby that existed and could ever exist was one embroidered onto a piece of fabric with massive text. Some people would still read it. Sure, the medium gets in the way, but ultimately some people will care enough to escape the high Mountains of the medium.

The Voice: why would you avoid talking about plot, and language while practicing literary criticism? What is the point of escaping the rocky hills, instead of embracing and loving the medium?

The First Monocosmonaut: none really. The philosophy enthusiast would love philosophy to the point of forgetting discussion of language. This is more of a thought exercise meant to bring to light what one is doing. Isn’t it nice to have a fresh idea like aesthetically based philosophy criticism? Maybe many literary critics wish they did not have to speak about metaphors and plots. Maybe they instead preferred monologues of ideas to and descriptions.

The Voice: No! This stuff will just remain speculative nonsense.people care about truth!

The First Monocosmonaut: but like it exists already. I saw something like Karl Marx as literature as a course title once.

The Voice: grumble grumble I am interested in the idea of philosophy criticism. I am very interested in art criticism in general. The idea that ideas are beautiful and can be cultivated for aesthetic effects, is endlessly intriguing.


There is of course beauty in non-philosophical ideas. Art is everywhere, so are ideas. Think about how much of popular discourse and politics is based on the demagogic aesthetics and beauty of ideas rather then reason. Ideas can be captivating, seductive, and pretty.

You can in fact have an aesthetic reaction to an idea. The idea has nothing to do with the method of communication. Though it can be influenced by it. Really ideas can be experienced by an open mind, separately from their communication.