This topic is already a question about the within – the subjective presupposition of an outward or outwarding. Prepositionally one has an attitude “about” or “toward” something or someone – a subject as object. Here this is further complicated by the qualifier “philosophical”. The qualification implies a setting “philosophical” apart from some other attitude. This qualification already implies philosophy. And it is just here that a hard problematic arises. To have a “philosophical” attitude already indicates even demands content. Attitudes do not arise or take place in a vacuum. They are not simply immediately given – or even as immediate they are mediated. Attitudes vary as greatly as phenomena – be it psychological or sociological – if they are seen just as describable. But then here again the problematic occurs. Attitudes interact with what forms them and forms what forms them! There is always a dynamic between attitude and its content. But then this is a circular situation which as such is without attitude or is undifferentiated – which would undetermine both “attitude” and “philosophical”.
The difficulty would seem easy to get out of if it were allowed that philosophy is just objective and without subjectivity – in other words an impersonal object – a kind of thing to be grasped. Then one could say that philosophical pertained to that as content and that attitude as philosophical was a depersonalized subjectivity. This is in fact what would commonly be meant by the term philosophical attitude. But to ask about this term without already giving the philosophy a definite content – this is harder; maybe too hard – for it is to suggest that without the right attitude there is and can be no philosophy – that it is not independent of attitude. But then is attitude independent of philosophy – maybe it is in a sense; namely, that it is independent of it strictly. But the problematic is: firstly, all attitudes are attitudes in that they have a point of view; and secondly, every point of view is just such in that it is at least implicitly philosophical. But then that is to give “philosophical” a very wide definition – so wide that if left simply so wide it would have no meaning. It would be better to say “widest”. This would give it a needed distinction. Philosophical is widest because it is inclusive of all exclusivity. This is the genuine character of philosophical exclusivity – that it is not such as such. And the attitude that would be philosophical would be such a widest but determinate attitude.
Now to give this “philosophical attitude” content is to argue both that it is not other attitudes (since we have already exclusively included the impossibility of no attitude) and that it is. And to finally reflect on this attitude as not just itself as one among many but all of them together including the last.
More specifically – that is philosophically – the fullest and therefore philosophical would be a view that in being caring is also detached – detached not only from self but from otherness as well or to put it more fully still – it is detached from detachment. For the problem with detachment is that it always has a negative assumption – namely, that from which it is detached. But non-detachment also has an assumption – itself as immediate – that is, for such a position there is no otherness – but then there is no attitude – not even a self-attitude. But to have both kinds of detachment would be to assume both assumptions at once – a kind of double detachment. But this still is a position within positions. To give it up as being within, as being single, would be to detach from detachment as result. This is a fourth dimension as a containment for triadicity – for the maintaining of negated positions as overcome but continually so while at the same time seeing the overcoming as a distinction that is only relatively final.
This fourth detached self-detachment as result-ing and so also free and non-detached would be as attitude “philosophical” in the sense of giving the ground for completeness. To use more historical terminology: this attitude would be neither dogmatic nor skeptical but both as neither and either. Thus it would be speculative but detached from the detachment of speculation without falling back into dogmatism or skepticism. If the language of wisdom and love were used relative to the position of the embodier it would be said that a love which is wise has a position which is positive in its negativity without embracing everything as undifferentiated. Or the subjective openness to caring by making negativity relative would be a loving which includes the excluding and hence is wise. But the two together, loving and wisdom, are a position which finally encompasses possibility positively. As attitude it is the possibility of possibility – as philosophical it is already actualized and simultaneously a possibility realizable while realizing.
At this point we are able to treat various attitudes which purport to be philosophical. The two most persistent are the “non-traditionalist” and the “traditionalist”. The first claims to neither have nor need antecedents – like Aphrodite it arises fullborn from the waves of the sea. The second makes no claims of its own but like a mushroom grows out of soil of another’s making.
Both the traditionalist and the non-traditionalist positions are involved unawares in a contradiction which is rooted in the suppression of the one by the other. The one has the weight of accumulation and the clearing of debris on its side while the other has the freedom of flotsam and jetsam which has neither accumulated nor been cleared away. The traditionalist forgets that the accretions of the past while hard-won and distilled were once each post traditional – that the distillation was made possible by the original freed activity which was later incorporated into what it was the accretion of. The historical process when looked at as already present has as its assumption that it was not always there – that it had to appear. And it is just that appearing which was not always apparent that cannot be grasped in its inception – in its state as flotsam and jetsam – by the traditionalist. For him there is only history as accounted for not as accounting. For him the future is past in a present that cannot be. The non-traditionalist has only a presentless present with no ties to past or future. For him there is no history and no process but an endless succession of stillbirths. The traditionalist forgets that the content he is enamored of is originally nontraditional while the non-traditionalist forgets that his content is the stuff of tradition. Both think to put the other to rest unless each recollects the problems and advantages of the other.
The traditionalist position pawns off the uncertainty of discontinuity for the anxiety for a past that will not present itself. Its continuity is hard-won with the purity of distillation but at the expense of the very history it purports to represent. The mediation of its content through the process of refinement takes the form of an historicism in which each step is the result of the previous one with the untoward result that the later step is no step at all. What appears to be the concrete content of accretion becomes the illusion of any present present with the result that the very history to be preserved has not the character of history and so no character at all. In self-protection it discounts the psychological aspect of its grasping a phantom and becomes only the empty repetition of its internal contradiction with the terms of its roots. What appeared to be its great advantage of freedom from the disease of whim and fancy, from the windy curse of anachronistic creativity, of freedom in the stress of oneness and the unchangingness of truth is finally only a sober dissipation of a frenzy without Bacchus.
Now the wine of the God the non-traditionalist, thinking to be outside the pale, assumes he can supply. But in the drunken dissipation that ensues the continuity of the feast is broken into psychological events which repeat not knowing repetition; this is their great advantage as well – that in the frenzy of a wineful feast something future will possibly occur. The newness which an historicism cannot fathom and must suppress can open to the break of day and the phenomenology of truth as not yet full can pass into awful day. But not in its discontinuity as a truth appearing – this is the tribute which a non-tradition cannot pay and so it must lapse into itself unrecognized.
The stuff of tradition is nontraditional – it is in this paradox that the possibility of either side is possible; and it is with this paradox that a philosophical attitude must deal without being drawn into the one side or the other. It is possible to escape only from the point of view of a detached detachment as described above in which the historical process is seen itself to have a history. This statement must be able to be understood as neither historicist nor as outside cause-and-effect relation. To do so it is necessary to be able to have a past present and future as distinguishable. Such distinguishment the tradition can no more do than the non-tradition. Both are too caught up in the exclusion of the other to unsuppress the opposite assumptions. And indeed on the basis of their view to do so would be their own destruction. But it is precisely in the reciprocity of their destruction as preserved that they exist at all. And it is the attitude, which is detached from their exclusion, that can be termed philosophical.
For this attitude is widest in containing the contraries of the tradition and its genesis while at the same time it is tolerant of the necessity of both. But its detachment is the revelation of a third position which as such leads to the detachment from this detachment or the suppression of the result independing itself from what has resulted. This is just what happens in the traditionalist position which to the non-traditionalist becomes purely detached. To simply put the two together is to lapse back into one of them unless a further step of perspective is achieved. At such a point neither historicism nor contingency nor their abstract unity can be free – With the result that their triadic unity is freedom itself or philosophical attitude as also one – as actually wise.