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The Test Drive by Avital Ronell.ppt


									Think of how many things are tested.
   Literature tests: Ronell says “Very often literature understands the
    dilemma of tested being on which it bases some of its most harrowing
    narrations” (13).
   Wars over objects and places (21).
   Urine Testing for drugs(21) by corporations and the government.
   School standardized tests (My note: Harvard recently stopped used the
    SAT scores, and other schools have followed.)
   On-line web-sites polls on news stories (Do you or do you not think that
    a Woman has a chance to win this election? Check the box and see what
    others thought.)
   VCU’s own web-site has it’s weekly poll on favorite meeting places,
    parks, events—not fact, just people’s collective opinions.
   You can easily add them to your own blog or web-site.
   Every government job has a test.
   Driving Tests
   Pregnancy Tests
   IQ tests
   Compatibility Tests for relationship
   Personality Tests
   Stress Tests
   Competency to Stand Trial Tests
   Medical Tests
   Game Shows
   Video Games
   Eye tests
   Allergy tests
   What season are you—tests for optimum fashion colors, Spring, Fall,
    Winter, etc.
   Can you think of any other tests?
   The Test Drive
   by Avital Ronell
“Even in its most hallucinatory conditions of
 satisfaction, the ego senses that something
  may be missing: it becomes insecure and
  must start up the machinery of testing.”
First, let’s think about what a
test is. Try to define “test.”
test1 (tĕst)
        A procedure for critical evaluation; a means of determining the
        presence, quality, or truth of something; a trial: a test of one's
        eyesight; subjecting a hypothesis to a test; a test of an
        athlete's endurance.

        A series of questions, problems, or physical responses
        designed to determine knowledge, intelligence, or ability.

        A basis for evaluation or judgment: “A test of democratic
        government is how Congress and the president work
        together” (Haynes Johnson).

              A physical or chemical change by which a substance may be
              detected or its properties ascertained.
              A reagent used to cause or promote such a change.
              A positive result obtained.
Synonyms for “test”
            A procedure that ascertains effectiveness, value, proper function, or otherquality:
            assay, essay, proof, trial, tryout. See investigate.
            An operation employed to resolve an uncertainty: experiment, experimentation,
            trial. See investigate.
            A set of questions or exercises designed to determine knowledge or skill:
            catechism, catechization, exam, examination, quiz. See investigate.
            A means by which individuals are compared and judged: benchmark, criterion,
            gauge, mark, measure, standard, touchstone, yardstick. See usual/unusual.
            Constituting a tentative model for future experiment or development: experimental,
            pilot, trial,, start/end.
            To subject to a procedure that ascertains effectiveness, value, proper function, or
            other quality: assay, check, essay, examine, prove, try, try out. Idioms: bring to the
            test, make trial of, put to the proof test. See investigate.
            To subject to a test of knowledge or skill: check, examine, quiz. See investigate.
            To engage in experiments: experiment. See investigate.
A few of the Oxford English
Dictionaries definitions:
1. orig. The cupel used in treating gold or silver alloys or ore; now esp. the cupel, with the iron frame or basket
which contains it, forming the movable hearth of a reverberatory furnace:

 2. a. That by which the existence, quality, or genuineness of anything is or may be determined; ‘means of trial’
(J.); hence, in phrases to bring or put to the test, to bear or stand the test, the testing or trial of the quality of
anything; examination, trial, proof.

b. A proof, sample, specimen. Obs. rare.

c. Cricket and Rugby Football. Short for test-match: see 7b. In S. Afr., an international match in any of a wide
range of games and sports, including Rugby.

3. That by which beliefs or opinions, esp. in religion, are tested or tried; spec. the oaths or declarations prescribed
by the TEST ACT of 1673; esp. in phrase to take the test; also, either of the test acts.

4. a. Chem. The action or process of examining a substance under known conditions in order to determine its
identity or that of one of its constituents; also, a substance by means of which this may be done.

b. Mechanics, etc. The action by which the physical properties of substances, materials, machines, etc. are
tested, in order to determine their ability to satisfy particular requirements.
Among these are bending test, compressive t., drop t., tensile t., transverse t., etc.; also with n. in objective
relation, as boiler, brake, engine test; also ROAD TEST.

c. The process or an instance of testing the academic, mental, physiological, or other qualities and conditions of
a human subject; in academic and similar contexts usu. implying a simpler, less formal procedure than an
examination; freq. as the second element in a collocation or combination denoting a particular kind of test, or
used contextually to imply one of these.
 A number of other collocations and combinations will be found under the first element, as aptitude, blood,
breath, intelligence, means, mental, performance, pregnancy, screen, skin, spot test.

2. To subject to a test of any kind; to try, put to the proof; to ascertain the existence, genuineness, or quality of. to
test out, to put (a theory, etc.) to a practical test. Phrases: to test (something) to failure or destruction; to test
the water
Consider words that Ronell
suggests could be synonyms for
According to Ronell:
 Examination—as in School
 Experimentation—as in Scientific Method
 Judgment—as in God’s judgment, or in a
  court of law, where innocence or guilt is
  being tested
 Torture—”The link between testing and
  torture is given ample consideration in
  Kafka’s works, relating his passion in more
  ways than one to that of Bacon” (13).
 Question—as in witnesses in court are
  being tested as to their knowledge and
Proving Grounds
   “Dreams and beasts are two keys by which we are
    to find out the secrets of our nature. They are our
    test objects.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

   “But what contributes most of all to this Apollonian
    image of the destroyer is the realization of how
    immensely the world is simplified when tested for
    its worthiness of destruction. This is the great
    bond embracing and unifying all that exists.” Walter

   “I always want to test everything to the point of
    death. Beyond.” Kathy Acker

To find out more about each of these writers/philosophers, check out their
Testing 1: On Being Tested
Testing is all around us in everyday life. We are being tested in many different

       “whether you are entering college, studying law, or trying to get out of an
      institution; whether they are giving you the third degree; whether you are
      buffing up on steroids, or she had unprotected sex, . . . Whether they have
      to prove their mettle or demonstrate a hypothesis or audition for the part,
      make a demo, try another way, or determine paternity; whether you roll
      back to the time of the Greeks who first list their understanding of
      basanos, or to the persecution of witches and press forward to push out
      the truth in the medium of torture and pain:

      It seems as though everthing—nature, body, investment, belief– has
      needed to be tested, including your love.

      What is the provenance of this need to torture or test?

      A link between torture and experiment has been asserted ever since
      Francis Bacon; yet, what has allowed acts and idioms of testing to top out
      as an essential and widening interest? A nearly unavoidable drive?” (5)

“Basanos" or "touchstone" tests the degree of accord between a person's life and its principle of intelligibility
     or logos: "Socrates will never let [his listener] go until he has thoroughly and properly put all his ways to
     the test [188a]. The Greek word "basanos" refers to a "touchstone", i.e., a black stone which is used to
     test the genuineness of gold by examining the streak left on the stone when "touched" by the gold in
     question. Similarly, Socrates' "basanic" role enables him to determine the true nature of the relation
     between the logos and bios of those who come into contact with him.
The God of the Old
especially is
constantly viewed
as testing
Kant, shortly after completing
his Critique of Judgment,
questioned this in response to a
public questionnaire, examined
the problem of testing the faith
of theology students.

Kant’s question: Can faith be
tested or is it not the essence of
faith to refuse he test—to go
along, precisely on blind faith,
without ground or grade? (6)
   Think of Christ, Peter, Abraham, Judas,
    Adam and Eve, Job—everyone is tested.

   Satan was kicked out of heaven for not
    fulfilling certain requirements.

   The Devil has become a “visible mark of a
    permanent testing apparatus” (6)
The German, “Versuch” unites the idea of
test with temptation.

This image shows Jesus telling Satan to be
gone. Jesus has passed the test.
According to Ronell, the idea of testing
has not been adequately addressed
critically up to the present. Even when
testing is mentioned in contemporary
thought, key theorists and philosophers
tend to mention, but not explore the
terms full potentialities.
   Husserl steps on the brakes the moment
    when the question of testing emerges in his
    reflections on science (6).
   Heidegger stated that “science falls short of
    thinking” (7).
   Contesting Heidegger, Derrida links
    science to mourning and memory . . .
    Always there, ready to erupt, amaze, or
    blow you away” (7).
The figure of the test belongs to
what Nietzsche saw as our age of
For that reason, Ronell spends an entire section of this
book discussing Nietzsche and testing in his
The Gay Science.
However, “Nietzsche construes the
possibility of a science that also bears
the force of interminable resistance”(7).

What dos Nietzsche mean by this?

   With the Scientific Method, that always
    demands that the scientist “has developed
    in himself the ability to inquire back into the
    original meaning of all his meaning
    structures and methods” (8). In other
    words, is willing to continually retest his
    work, hypotheses, and results ad infinitum.
The idea behind the Scientific
Method meshes with Dostoevsky’s
ideas on true responsibility:
  “True responsibility, the kind that Dostoevsky, cited
   by Levinas, sees as always excessive—one is
   never responsible enough, I am more than anyone
   else responsible for the other—depends on a self-
   testing that is never satisfied with its results, never
   finished . . . . Nor can it rely upon the reassuring
   precepts of a determined knowledge” (Ronell 9).

   Never finished . . . This “multiple disengagement”
   and re-engagement that scientific method supports
   in the testing, ad infinitum, is a situation to which
   Husserl might apply the term “open infinitude.”

   What Ronell calls “the test drive” is
   “circumscribed by an endless erasure of what
   is” (10).
Interesting fact:
   Dionysus is the god
    of the test.
    According to Ronell,
    he rules “a force that
    affirms multiplicity
    and is affirmed by it.”
   He is viewed as the
    promoter of
    civilization, a
    lawgiver, and lover
    of skeptic
          Apollo and Dionysus are often found along the edges of that
          borderline, on the divine side and the human; they provoke
          that back-and-forth in men, that desire to go beyond oneself,
          which we seem to cling to even more than to our humanity,
          even more than to life itself. And sometimes this dangerous
          game rebounds on the two gods who play it."
          (Roberto Calasso. The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, pg
          59) The KITHARA, a plucked string instrument, came to be
          linked with Apollo, the god of the Sun and reason, while the
          AULOS, a loud double-reed instrument, came to be identified
          with Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstatic revelry.

         “ . . . alternation between obligation and recreation,
          responsibility and freedom, can be appreciated within
        larger time frames. The student will readily acknowledge
         that a "good week" consists of the weekend’s reward of
          Dionysian indulgence (not to say excess) following the
      Apollonian restrictiveness of Monday thru Friday. Similarly,
       one endures fifty weeks of obligation to enjoy two weeks of
       vacation, and a near lifetime of attention to business for a
                       few years of golden retirement.”

Thro, Michael. “Apollo vs Dionysus: The Only Theme Your Students Will Ever Need in Writing about Literature.”VCCA
      Journal, Volume 10, Number 2. Summer 1996, 11-18.
That our perception of Apollo and Dionysus should be
a relative and dynamic matter finds precedence in
Nietzsche’s protean views of their natures:
    “It has been overlooked that the Dionysus whom Nietzsche celebrated as
    his own god in his later writings is no longer the deity of formless frenzy
    whom we meet in Nietsche s first book. Only the name remains, but later
    the Dionysian represents passion controlled as opposed to the extirpation
    of the passions which Nietzsche associated more and more with
    Christianity.... The later Dionysus is the synthesis of the two forces which
    are represented by Dionysus and Apollo in The Birth of Tragedy -- and
    thus a certainly not anti- Apollonian Goethe can appear in one of Nietsche
    s last books as the perfect representation of what is called Dionysian.”
    (Walter Kaufmann 106)

More on the subject at:

Kaufmann, Walter A. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist.
    Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1950.

(For Kaufmann quotes select above link. For more on Philosopher Walter A.
    Kaufmann, visit:
One of Kaufmann’s thoughts (to read in original context, visit link below):

"Let people who do not know what to do with themselves in this life, but fritter
     away their time reading magazines and watching television, hope for
     eternal life.....The life I want is a life I could not endure in eternity. It is a
     life of love and intensity, suffering and creation, that makes life worth while
     and death welcome. There is no other life I should prefer. Neither should I
     like not to die.“
Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic, Pg 386.
 "Dionysic stirring arise either through the influence
of those narcotic potions of which all primitive races
speak in their hymns, or through the powerful
approach of spring, which penetrates with joy the
whole frame of nature. So stirred the individual
forgets himself completely... for a brief moment we
become ourselves, the primal Being, and we
experience its insatiable hunger for existence. Now
we see the struggle, the pain, the destruction of
appearances, as necessary, because of the constant
proliferation of forms pushing into life, because of
the extravagant fecundity of the world will. We feel
the furious prodding of this travail in the very
moment in which we become one with the immense
lust for life and are made aware of the eternity and
indestructibility of that lust."
Friedrich Nietzsche in 1882.
Born October 15, 1844
Röcken, Saxony, Prussia
Died August 25, 1900
Weimar, Germany

For more on this subject, visit:
Testing 1, 2,
Why Science Amazes Us
The test belongs to both scientific
and philosophic protocols.
   The experiment gives shape to
    the test in science and
The test “at once affirms and
deprives the world of

What does this mean?
Nietzsche states that “science alone
is forbidden by God: the Almighty
manifested time and again His
mortal terror of science. Faith is a
veto against science” (14)

What do you think this means?

(My note: I don’t particularly agree with
  Nietzsche on this point—a Creator of a
  Universe would not be afraid of science,
  because such a Creator uses science to
  create the universe—such a Creator would
  be the ultimate master of Science.)
Ronell says that a subtitle of her work
could be “Why Science Amazes Us.”
   “I want to say simply that science truly amazes us. It
   fascinates. Which is to say, also, it blinds us and may
   itself be blinded to its own trajectories, axiomatic
   resuppositions, procedures, and premises; not to speak of
   the unmarked status of scientific desire, whether in crisis
   or, on the contrary—but this is not a contradiction—self-
   assured and well funded, state supported. So much
   blindness compels an inward turn . . .” (15).

Ronell is saying that Science must continually self-
  examine its own testing, procedures and methods,
  precisely because of its funding, its state support, its
  amazing results that the public so much desires.

Question for discussion: Why should State support and
  public desire in turn require that Science carefully
  polices or tests itself and its own methods?
Ronell has a concern about
“One has every right, in fact it is a duty, to ask
  of science if it is capable of devoting itself
  to securing the conditions for thinking
  joyousness and the affirmation of life” (15).

Another subtitle Ronell considered: “The
  Price We Are Paying for Science” (16).
Testing 1, 2, 3
Controlled Experiment
“Literary and philosophical studies, art and art criticism, risk
    getting sucked in by the ruling scientific claims, the
    alienating authority of what Husserl calls “objectivism.”
    The attitude that science gives us, this Einstellung, is
    life-depleting and aura-sapping. It has left a toxic residue
    of uninterrogated policies, now become decisive. The
    delusion of self-sufficiency, a mark of the self-evisceration
    of the sciences detached from their reflective ground and
    forgotten abysses, is dangerous for us all, blocking vision
    and eclipsing futurity. . . Nietzsche, cried: “The wasteland
    grows.” Still, I am not about gloom and doom but want to
    heed what Husserl and others . . . Say about “man’s now
    unbearable lack of clarity about his own existence and his
    infinite tasks.” This may sound old-fashioned, that is to
    say, pre-Freudian, ante-Balaillean, post-Enlightenment,
    and so forth. For who today hungers for clarity as if
    darkness did not send out its own special light” (17).

Einstellung--A mindset, in decision theory and general systems theory, refers
    to a set of assumptions, methods or notations held by one or more people
This is the question that Ronell
wants to “bring to the table”:
   Why has the test—throughout history,
    and perhaps most pervasively today—
    come to define our relation to questions
    of truth, knowledge, and even reality?
   According to Ronell: “It is not a matter of choosing
    between a science of fact and a science of
    essence—between an account of why things are
    actual rather than possible.
   Nor is it simply a matter of technological self-
    understanding, as if the scientific reflection on its
    own procedures and premises could satisfy a
    philosophical hunger.
   . . . I am not insensitive to the liberating potential of
    testing one’s ground . . . Throwing off the security
    blankets of time and history” (18).
Ronell asserts that “there is something
about the relationship to truth that
depends on the test.

   For example, why is it that the
    most pressing ethical and
    political issues of our day
    increasingly seem to have more
    to do with testing than with other
    names for questioning,
    hesitation, and certainty?”
In The Test Drive, Ronell tries to focus
on the ways in which the test—and in
particular the rhetoric of testing –has
restructured the field of everyday and
psychic life.
Types of tests,
according to Ronell:
   One test stands its ground, standardized and equipped with
    irrefutable results. So it claims and so it stands.
   This first register of testing offers results—certitudes—by which
    to calculate and count on the other (including the self as other,
    as tested other).

   Another test crashes against walls, collapses certitudes, and
    lives by failure—lives by dying or, at least by destroying
   This second test consistently detaches from its rootedness in
    truth: self-dissolving and ever probing, it depends on boundary-
    crossing feats and the collapse of horizon. It implicates the
    politics of risk that Nietzsche has shown, on one page, to be
    linked to a concept of freedom. On the next page, he
    characteristically contradicts himself, paying the price for
    science by pointing to the gravest risks ascribable to the
    culture of the Versuch, the test or trial.

“These two principal registers do not lead separate lives . . . But
        imply and breach one another at critical junctures
                  (according to Nietzsche) (18).
Prototype A
Testability and the Law
   Derrida gives focus to a key element of testing: the
    hypothesis. “The most fundamental determination,
    however, one which is to be found in Plato but has
    nevertheless been covered up and neglected
    throughout the renewals of Neoplatonism and the
    Renaissance, . . . Is the hypothesis, the concept of
    hypothesis” (23).
   Cohen “newly appraise(s) the Lutheran
    Reformation”—”In allying itself with critical science,
    with the hypothesis, with doubt, with the history of
    knowledge, with the putting-in-question of
    institutional authorities, and so on, ‘the Reformation
    placed the German spirit at the center of world
    history’” (24).
   According to Cohen, it is owing to the concept of
    hypothesis that Kepler was able to develop his
    astronomy and mechanics (24).
Thus, what Cohen proposes,
under the rubric of hypothesis, is
“indeed a determination of the
idea as an opening to the
infinite, and infinite task for
‘philosophy as a rigorous
science.’” (page24, 25 for more)
“The test and . . . The motif of
testability stay lodged within the
very possibility of justice” (26).
The theoretical issue . . . Entails at
  least three major subdivisions:
 What is the relationship of law to
 Can a judge preside over scientific
  evidence without relying on scientific
 What constitutes scientific expertise?
“Under both Daubert and Frye a jury is
permitted to hear proposed scientific
testimony only if a judge determines
beforehand that the testimony pertains to
genuine science” (27).
   P 27, Describes cases of Daubert v. Merrell Dow
    Pharmaceuticals, Inc. details.

   Adina Schwartz argues that facts are theory-laden.

   “Contrary to Daubert’s assumption that judges can make
    such determinations without deferring to scientists, the
    history and philosophy of science show that it is in
    principle impossible for judges, or anyone else outside the
    scientific community to rationally decide whether science
    is being done” (27).

   Schwartz’s article discusses Daubert case and states
    “While Daubert suggests four factors that judges may
    appropriately consider in this determination, only one of
    the factors is plausible. The factor is the falsifiability,
    or refutability, or testability” (29). (adopted from
    philosopher Sir Karl Popper).
Sir Karl Popper, “The point is that,
whenever we propose a solution to a
problem, we ought to try as hard as we
can to overthrow our solution, rather
than defend it. Few of us,
unfortunately, practice this precept; but
other people, fortunately, will supply
the criticism for us if we fail to supply it
ourselves” (34).

“The point is to let go in good faith of
the massive defense mechanisms that
attend thought, to allow if not to
provoke the dissolution of the solution,
to affirmatively invite failure by losing
the attachment to a solution made in
service to a dogmatic principle” (34).
Ronell likes Popper’s viewpoint,
but makes the following
interesting and valid question:

   Who tests the tests?

   This has been in the news of
    late—with the fallibility of SOL
    tests and with Harvard throwing
    SAT test scores out the window.
           On Passing the Test
   “The philosophy of the future, Nietzsche projects, belongs to the testers
    and attempters, to those who are willing to risk themselves on the
    Versuch: ‘A new species of philosophers is coming up: I venture to baptize
    them with a name that is not free of danger. As I unriddle them, insofar as
    they allow themselves to be unriddled—for it belongs to their nature to
    want to remain riddles at some point—these be philosophers of the future
    may have a right—it might also be a wrong—to be called attempters
    [Versucher: tempters, testers, experimenters]. (133).

   “The hundred attempts and temptations –the tests and trials, the
    inescapable ordeals—are, Nietzsche insists, a burden and duty felt by the
    philosopher who risks everything as s/he plays beyond good and evil”

   Nietzsche asks, concerning the bold experimenters, “Does their passion
    for knowledge force them to go farther with audacious and painful
    experiments than the softhearted and effeminate taste of a democratic
    century could approve?”

Now, Nietzsche almost sounds like he approves of these
  “experimenters” in the above quotes, but he does not
  necessarily—he just seems to believe that they will
  have the power to change our future.
The future belongs to the
experimenters . . . .
Dolly, the cloned sheep.
Need I say more?
The two sights below show the flip sides of the coin on cloning: one
used to clone for cloning’s sake—because we can—the other, to try
to preserve endangered animals, etc.
Wild animal cloning to preserve DNA
AMA discussion of cloning potential and ethical/scientific
   Derrida offers: “Today the acceleration of technicization
    concerns the border of the nation-state.” This issue needs “to be
    completely reconsidered, not in order to sound the death-knell of
    democracy, but to rethink democracy from within these
    conditions” (134-5).

   Along these same lines, Nietzsche posits: “this democracy to
    come is marked in the movement that always carries the present
    beyond itself, makes it inadequate to itself” (135).
   For Nietzsche and others, it is important for us to question the
    relationship between science and contemporary formations
    of power—more specifically, about the suspicious
    partnership of so-called advanced democracies and high

   What makes these forces match up with each other? What
    allows these structures mutually to hold up?
My Example 1: Pharmaceutical Companies
and domestic drugs issue. Why can’t we
import cheaper drugs? Why did our
government support the Pharmaceutical
Companies on this issue?

My Example 2: Doctors being paid by
Pharmaceutical Companies to test their
drugs and then speak at conferences. Is
there influence here to push certain drugs
despite their performance in testing?
The Test Drive:
On Nietzsche’s Gay Science
           “There was once a man; he had
           learned as a child that beautiful
           tale of how God tried Abraham,
           how he withstood the test, kept
           his faith and for the second time
           received a son against every
           expectation . . . . This man was
           no thinker, he felt no need to go
           further than faith . . . . This man
           was no learned exegete, he
           knew no Hebrew; had he known
           Hebrew then perhaps it might
           have been easy for him to
           understand the story of
           Abraham.” Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
The philosophical pressure is on for science to
come clean, to declassify the language usage and
rhetorical combinations that have supported the
prodigal domination of science over other
interpretive interventions and possible worlds.

Re: “expressivity of objects”: Nietzsche at times
saw himself as a scientific object. . . . . He writes: “
I should have been at the electric exhibition in Paris”
as an exhibit at the world’s science fair (154). He
also saw himself as dynamite.

Question: Taking these articulated mutations
seriously—one of his masks will have been the
scientific object—how can we make sense of
Nietzsche’s call today?
A Ronell (& Nietzsche) argument for
Science’s power and ability to be
independent rather than influenced of
  “Nietzsche saw in science the potential for
  uncompromising honesty in terms of
  understanding who we are and what we
  can become . . . . Science does not owe
  anything to anyone; it does not have to
  bend its rules to suit this or that
  transcendental power broker. In principle,
  science does not have to rhyme with
  nation-state or God but should be able to
  bypass the more provincial tollbooths of
  ever narrowing global highways. Science,
  if it wanted to do so, could, . . . Travel its
  zones with a free pass” (155).
However, the public has good
reason to be suspicious and
anxious about science’s direction:

 “But science has many ethical
 destinations “of which we
 remain ignorant—[this] is why
 experimentation is a locus of
 tremendous ethical anxiety”
Jean-Luc Marion, French Catholic
theologian, in God without Being
discusses the gaze of the test:
“The test abides no idol, which is why its essential effectivity is located at once
     everywhere and nowhere” (233).
According to Ronell about Marion’s view, “this roving eye, which resembles
     that of a surveillance apparatus, disables its object without violating or
     even bothering to denounce. . . . Marion claims that ‘Teste’s gaze puts to
     the test what it beholds as one holds an enemy to the ground, in order to
     destroy him,” and, “By transpiercing every visible being with his gaze,
     Teste ‘does not annihilate it so much as he disqualifies its pretension to
     offer the idol, which precisely would have fixed this gaze. No violence, no
     refutation, no speech even, but only the advance of the gaze, as if nothing
     were” (231). . . .
“the Teste-gaze attests, moreover, to the vanishing of experienceability—a
     Benjaminian insight. Something has supplanted our relation to experience
     as presencing or recalled” (232) . . . .
“the Teste-gaze is unstoppable” (232).
“Boredom works for Marion as the underlying mood of testing/detesting
     because it has little to do with nihilism, renouncing without any tragedy or
     spark of courage the very intention of any idolatry” (232).

For a conversation with Jean-Luc Marion, visit:
M. Teste (Monsieur Teste) often resembles a
liberal—in fact, his prints appear to match those of
the liberal ironist who roams the essay of Richard
Rorty’s “Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity”:

  “M. Teste often resembles a liberal—in fact his prints appear to
  match those of the liberal ironist who roams the essay of Richard
  Rorty’s Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. . . . Rorty uses
  “ironist” to name “the sort of person who faces up to the
  contingency of his or her own most central beliefs and desires—
  someone sufficiently historicist and nominalist to have
  abandoned the idea that those central beliefs and desires refer
  back to something beyond the reach of time and chance”. . . .

  “Liberal ironists are people who include among these
  ungroundable desires their own hope that suffering will be
  diminished, that the humiliation of human beings by other human
  beings may cease.”

  Nor would Test ever be caught saying that he resides in one of
  “the lucky, rich, literate democracies.” an eminently falsifiable
  description for which Rorty shows unambivalent fondness” (233).
Now, we get to ineffability:

 According to Ronell, the ironists want all things to
 be made new. They want “the sublime and the
 ineffable, not just the beautiful and novel —
 something incommensurable with the past, not
 simply the past recaptured through rearrangement
 and redescription. Dissatisfied with mere
 linguistic makeovers, the ironist theorist
 demands ‘apocalyptic novelty.’ He still wants
 ‘the kind of power which comes from a close
 relation to somebody very large; this is one
 reason why he is rarely a liberal. Nietzsche’s
 superman shares with Hegel’s World-Spirit and
 Heidegger’s Being the duality attributed to
 Christ: very man, but, in his ineffable aspect,
 very God . . .” (235-6).
A hundred years before Heidegger's essay "On the Essence of Truth,"
Kierkegaard raised a dreadful linguistic question on behalf of the Biblical
Abraham: How can one speak of an experience which eludes the clench of
language? Of that whereof one must remain silent? Language, even the language of
art, has no words for what is individual. "So soon as I talk I express the universal, and
if I do not do so, no one can understand me." (11) I make myself understood,
Wittgenstein would say, by the fact that my meanings are shared by others. And since
a private language is impossible, the individual has none. "Humanly speaking he is
crazy and cannot make himself intelligible to anyone." (12)

Friedrich Nietzsche's case against language is equally nominalistic:
"Fundamentally, all our actions are altogether incomparably personal, unique, and
infinitely individual ... but as soon as we translate them into consciousness they no
longer seem to be. " (13) Consciousness is equivalent to language: a net of
communication allowing men to speak not of the singular but only of the "average."

For both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche language is an arbitrary scheme imposed
upon reality to make it recognizable. Grammar, that "metaphysics of the people" as
Nietzsche called it, can never capture truth within its discourse. . . .
Nietzsche and Kierkegaard thus say the unsayable. By
respecting [end p. 25] the ineffability of the "sublime," talking
around it, showing how language is unable to lay hands on it,
they establish the void of unsayable truth at the center of their
discourse. This absential presence distinguishes their language as poetic. For
poetry is subject to a tragic paradox: knowing the frailty of its language, it persists in its
quest for disclosure. It hopes to turn the lie of the word into truth. And if it establishes
truth it is only through the deceptions of language....." (17)
Define “ineffability:”
 To say that something is "ineffable"
   means that it cannot or should not, for
   overwhelming reasons, be expressed
   in spoken words (as with the concept
   of true love). It is generally used to
   describe a feeling, concept or aspect
   of existence that is too great to be
   adequately described in words, or that
   inherently (due to its nature) cannot be
   conveyed in dualistic symbolic human
   language, but can only be known
   internally by individuals.
  In Zen it is often said that (by analogy)
   the finger can point to the moon but is
   not the moon; likewise words and
   actions can point towards what is
   ineffable but cannot make another
   know it.

The image is René Descartes’ image of Duality of
     the mind and body. Inputs are passed on by
     the sensory organs to the epiphysis in the
     brain and from there to the immaterial spirit.
Things that are often termed
Things incommunicable
 Sensory experiences such as colors or flavors
 Spiritual experiences, e.g. Søren Kierkegaard's discussion of Abraham in
Fear and Trembling
 The human soul and consciousness
 The musical experience, as discussed by Theodor Adorno, among others.
 The psychedelic experience is largely considered ineffable to
psychologists, philosophers and psychonauts alike.

Things incommunicable because of incomprehensibility

 Infinity.
 The universe (before the Big-Bang Theory, and realistically, post-Big Bang
 A universe with five or more dimensions.

Things considered too great to be uttered
 Yahweh (by orthodox Jewish tradition)
The "Will of Bob" in Mostly Harmless, part of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
A Few Fun Quotes about
 "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be
     silent." — Ludwig Wittgenstein
 "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
     the name that can be named is not the eternal
     name." — the Dao De Jing
 "What can't be said, can't be said. And it can't be
     whistled, either." — F. P. Ramsey
 "If a person can't communicate, the very least he
     can do is to shut up." — Tom Lehrer
 "What cannot be spoken in words, but that
     whereby words are spoken." — Kenopanishad
 "We shall grapple with the ineffable, and see if we
     may not eff it after all." — Douglas Adams in Dirk
    Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
 "I'm in the business of effing the ineffable."-Alan
One of the places of testing is
the university, & professors:
How much of a soapbox should professors enjoy,expounding on pet
   social and political subjects?

   “. . . If he feels called upon to intervene in the struggles of world
    views and party opinions, he may do so outside, in the market
    place, in the press, in meetings, in associations, wherever he
    wishes. But after all, it is somewhat too convenient to
    demonstrate one’s courage in taking a stand where the audience
    and possible opponents are condemned to silence.” In the
    classroom the teacher must clean up his act, tone down the
    prophetic pathos, and follow a nonideological teaching plan.
    (quoted from Weber) (Test Drive201)

Discussion Question:             Why shouldn’t a professor at the very least challenge
    students to think beyond their cacoon? To stretch out and consider other points of
    view? If not at the university, then where and when will they learn this skill? At home,
    they will naturally hear what their parents believe for the first 18 years of their lives. I
    would think they should be exposed to other points of view from other areas of culture
    and the world at the university. Shouldn’t university be a place of “testing one’s

    What do you think?
Another place of testing,
according to Rorty is the

“Rorty wisely urges that one stop looking
for political rehabilitation beyond the
domain of contestatory democracies.
Rather than leaping for new and revolutionary promises, one
would be well advised to inhabit and test the politics of
democracy that binds at least some of the world.
Surrendering extant forms of democracy to revolutionary
phantasms pushes away the luxurious complexity of the
present, which deserves and needs acts of continual,
committed, and rigorous probling” (234).
Ronell also makes note of the anti-women or
anti-feminine language used by many
philosophers on the subject of testing:
  “When the experimental disposition is announced in Nietzsche, it
  is often accompanied by the caccophony of woman-hating
  ranting. I have often stopped the sentences I quote at that
  moment, as if they were stoppable, so that I could go on and
  produce an argument. Nietzsche doesn’t always close out
  women, but he does so often enough, with or without
  transvaluative complications” (237).
  “The baseline structure of material sites of experimentation is
  linked to misogynist language and practice. Objects under study
  acquire in Haraway’s account essentially feminized traits, which
  is to say they are relentlessly subjected to the intrusive violence
  of the scientific probe. Whether this is a fundamental quality of
  laboratory practice remains to be seen” (141).
Testing Your Love,
or: Breaking Up
(sometimes it’s necessary)
          Nietzsche tested his love for Richard
             Wagner, and walked away from
             his friendship with Wagner. The
             book did not clarify why this
             separation became necessary.

          Nietzsche speaks of Wagner almost
             like he was a drug:
          “For I was condemned to Germans.
             If one wants to rid oneself of an
             unbearable pressure, one needs
             hashish. Well, I needed Wagner.
             Wagner is the antitoxin against
             everything German par
             excellence—a toxin, a poison,
             that I don’t deny.” Nietzsche
Nietzsche uses the example of his “addiction”
for Wagner as an example of whether it is all
right to change one’s position on a subject, to
walk away, to reverse one’s position, to leave.
   Part One “Of the Three Metamorphoses” begins, “To carry out
    later in coolness and sobriety, what a man promises or decides
    in passion: this demand is among the heaviest burdens
    oppressing mankind” (311).

   Nietzsche continues: “Because we have vowed to be faithful,
    even, perhaps, to a purely imaginary being, a God, for instance;
    because we have given our heart to a prince, a party, a woman,
    a priestly order, an artist, or a thinker in the state of blind
    madness that enveloped us in rapture and let those beings
    appear worthy of every honor, every sacrifice: are we then
    extricably bound? . . . . Was it not a conditional promise, under
    the assumption (unstated to be sure) that those beings to whom
    we dedicated ourselves are the beings they appeared to be in
    our imaginations? Are we obliged to be faithful to our errors,
    even if we perceive that by this faithfulness we do damage to our
    higher self?” (311)

   In a section of Human, All Too Human, entitled “On Convictions
    and Justice,” Nietzsche asks, “Why do we admire the man who
    remains faithful to his conviction and despise the one who
    changes it?” (310).
   “The crucial place that Brutus assumes in the
   Nietzschean corpus can hardly be overstated. A
   quotation from Nietzsche’s notebooks reads, “In that
   which moved Zarathustra, Moses, Mohammed,
   Jesus, Plato, Brutus, Spinoza, Mirabeau—I live,

   All of these people turned on their people or turned
   the tables in some way” (310).

Question: Is turning on someone in the same category
  as reinterpreting or turning the tables philosophically
  (as a Jesus or a Mohammed or Moses did). I’m not
  sure I would group those two ideas together. What
  do you think?
   It is good to love, for love is hard.
    Tenderness from one person to another is
    perhaps the most difficult task assigned
    to us—the most extreme, the final test and
    examination, the work, for which all
    other work is only a preparation.

         - Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefe I. 1904 -
The Wanderer Philosopher
          Nietzsche famously ends Human, All Too Human by raising up
           the wanderer—a figure propelled by the effects of breakup.
           The wanderer, an early generation of nomad, travels in shifts
           and ruptures, intellectually torn from any lasting habitat by an
           experience of homelessness tied to time. To the extent that
           time is, the wanderer moves on, moving away from positions
           grazed or occupied: “We then stride on, driven by the intellect,
           from opinion to opinion, through the change of sides, as noble
           traitors to all things that can ever be betrayed—and yet with no
           feeling of guilt.”. . . This is the “noble traitor as the wanderer
           who knows when to fold, when to leave” (314).

      My interpretation: Nietzsche seems to approve of this image. He
           seems to be saying that it is right to continually test one’s
           positions on everything, and then walk away from them if need
           be, if they fail the test. This idea could apply to relationships,
           or to any philosophic, spiritual or scientific belief.

      Do you agree?

      To me, it seems almost necessary to allow this “walking
          away” if one believes in the need to continually test an
          idea—if you aren’t willing to walk away from that
          belief, then what good is the test?
      However, what does this say about loyalty, faithfulness,
          faith—especially as they relate to relationships?
A Chance to Explore a Few
Tests Used Today:
Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922) was
the son of a painter. He became a Swiss
psychiatrist. Very interested in
psychoanalysis, during the early 1910s he
published several psychoanalytic articles
and experimented with the interpretation of
inkblots, as did Leonardo da Vinci and
Justinus Kerner. In 1921 he published
Pschodiagnostik, which had 10 inkblots
and a guide to analysis on interpretation—
now considered a classic of psychiatry and
art as well. The test is commonly
called the Rorschach Ink Blot Test.
Below is one of its classic images.
Its origins go back at least to the
experimentation of Leonardo da
Vinci and Botticelli, and also lie in
children’s games, experiments on
visual perception, studies of the
effects of hashish, as well as the
testing of immigrants at Ellis Island.
After the MMPI (the Rorschach Ink Blot test is the
second most widely used test by members of the
Society for Personality Assessment. It has been
employed in diagnosing underlying thought disorder
and differentiating psychotic from nonpsychotic
thinking in cases where the patient is reluctant to
openly admit to psychotic thinking.

There are ten official inkblots. Five
inkblots are black ink on white paper. Two
are black and red ink on white paper.
Three are multicolored.

After the individual has seen and responded
to all the inkblots, the tester then gives them
to him again one at a time to study. The
patient is asked to note where he sees what
he originally saw and what makes it look like
that. The blot can also be rotated. As the
patient is examining the inkblots, the
psychologist writes down everything the
patient says or does, no matter how trivial.
Methods of interpretation differ. Rorschach scoring systems
have been described as a system of pegs on which to hang
one's knowledge of personality. The most widely used method in
the United States is based on the work of John E. Exner. In the
Exner system, responses are scored with reference to their:

level of vagueness or synthesis of multiple images in the
the location of the response,
which of a variety of determinants is used to produce the
response (i.e., what makes the inkblot look like what it is said to
the form quality of the response (to what extent a response is
faithful to how the actual inkblot looks),
the contents of the response (what the respondent actually sees
in the blot),
the degree of mental organizing activity that is involved in
producing the response,
and any illogical, incongruous, or incoherent aspects of
Using the scores for these categories, the examiner then performs a series of
    mathematical calculations producing a structural summary of the test data.
    The results of the structural summary are interpreted using existing
    empirical research data on personality characteristics that have been
    demonstrated to be associated with different kinds of responses. The
    calculations of scores are often done electronically.

A common misconception of the Rorschach test is that its interpretation is
    based primarily on the contents of the response - what the examinee sees
    in the inkblot. In fact, the contents of the response are only a
    comparatively small portion of a broader cluster of variables that are used
    to interpret the Rorschach data.

Other outdated factors (not included in the Exner system of scoring)
   include according to one 1950 source:

    Average time per response for which a time of about one minute is
    suggested as normal with doubling of times considered to be a possible
    indicator of depression.

    The time it takes for the person to react when first faced with a coloured

    Rejection of a card which it is suggested should not be considered normal.

    Turning of the card with failure to turn being labelled a possible sign of
    depressive psychoses.
Have some fun exploring and taking a few tests: (to take a fun version of an inkblot
      test) (serious   personality test, can take it for
      free, but have to pay for results)

Other psychiatric, personality, and psychologic tests:

     The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is
     one of the most frequently used personality tests in the mental
     health fields.This assessment, or test, was designed to help
     identify personal, social, and behavioral problems in psychiatric
     patients. The test helps provide relevant information to aid in
     problem identification, diagnosis, and treatment planning for the

     Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality
     questionnaire designed to identify certain psychological
     differences according to the typological theories of Carl Gustav
     Jung as published in his 1921 book Psychological Types (English
     edition, 1923). The original developers of the indicator were
     Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers.
     They began developing the indicator during World War II,
     believing that a knowledge of personality preferences would help
     the women who were entering the industrial workforce for the
     first time to identify the sort of war-time jobs where they would be
     "most comfortable and effective
MMSE, or mini-mental state examination (MMSE), mini-mental status
exam or Folstein test is a brief 30-point questionnaire test that is used to
assess cognition. It is commonly used in medicine to screen for dementia. In
the time span of about 10 minutes, it samples various functions, including
arithmetic, memory and orientation. It was introduced by Folstein et al in 1975.
Any score over 24 (out of 30) is effectively normal. The normal value is also
corrected for degree of schooling and age. Low to very low scores correlate
closely with the presence of dementia, although other mental disorders can
also lead to abnormal findings on MMSE testing. The presence of purely
physical problems can also interfere with interpretation if not properly noted;
for example, a patient may be physically unable to hear or read instructions
properly, or may have a motor deficit that affects writing and drawing skills.

The sight below effectively explains to seniors how to take such a test,
and lists the questions it contains:

The image below refers to the final question on this test in which a person has
to draw a figure that combines two other figures.
Terms used in
The Test Drive:
Basanos or touchstone tests the degree of accord between a person's life and its principle
    of intelligibility or logos: "Socrates will never let [his listener] go until he has thoroughly
    and properly put all his ways to the test [188a]. The Greek word "basanos" refers to a
    "touchstone", i.e., a black stone which is used to test the genuineness of gold by
    examining the streak left on the stone when "touched" by the gold in question.
    Similarly, Socrates' "basanic" role enables him to determine the true nature of the
    relation between the logos and bios of those who come into contact with him.

Einstellung refers to a mindset, in decision theory and general systems theory, refers to a
    set of assumptions, methods or notations held by one or more people

Falsifiability, or refutability, or testability” (29). (adopted from philosopher Sir Karl Popper).

Ineffability If something is ineffable it means that it cannot or should not, for overwhelming
     reasons, be expressed in spoken words

Überwindung overcoming

Versuch unites the idea of test with temptation

Kaufmann, Walter A. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1950.

Kaufmann, Walter. The Faith of a Heretic, Pg 386.

Ronell, Avita. The Test Drive. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 2005.

Thro, Michael. “Apollo vs Dionysus: The Only Theme Your Students Will Ever Need in Writing about Literature.”VCCA Journal, Volume 10, Number 2.
       Summer 1996, 11-18.

Oxford English Dictionary.

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