Hello. I’m Michael Downs and I’m the author of the Dangerous Maybe. I realize that I’ve never actually introduced myself to my readers and I thought it was high time I do so. Ever since I started this blog back in January of 2019, I’ve received a lot of support for my work and I want to thank all of my readers who have helped me along the way by sharing my posts. The blog has gotten much more attention than I ever thought it would and that is due to those of you who keep on supporting it.
I am not a professional academic. In fact, I didn’t even graduate from high school (I did, however, get my GED) and, unless you want to count a few classes I took at community college, I never went to university. No bachelor’s, no master’s, no doctorate. The terms that often get applied to me are “autodidact” and “independent scholar”, but I just prefer being called a theory junkie. Anyway, philosophy is my true passion and I wish I could spend just about every moment of my life reading and writing it.
I’m always trying to find ways to make philosophy and critical theory as accessible as possible. I beat my head against the wall for years trying to understand what the hell technical terms like objet petit a, bodies without organs, enframing, spectacle, the face of the Other, synthetic a priori, différance, master signifier, dialectic, simulacrum, etc., actually mean, so I’m always trying to save my readers time by explaining these concepts as clearly as I can. I got into philosophy right when I turned 21 and I was barely literate at the time. I mean, yes, I could read, but I couldn’t open up a newspaper and really comprehend what I was reading. I had to teach myself how to read and study extremely difficult texts such as Being and Nothingness, The Sickness unto Death, Critique of Pure Reason and Being and Time. I’ve come to see the utter importance of philosophy and I think the world (and especially America) is in need of it now more than ever and that’s why I try to make it has clear and approachable as I can. I want more people to get into philosophy and I want to help facilitate that.
OK, with that said, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog, so I just want to give my readers a brief update on what’s going on. I want to say up front that I definitely plan on writing more blog posts in the future. The reason why I’ve been inactive of late is because I’m currently writing my first book. I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of the year, but it might take a little longer than that. I’m trapped working a job in a warehouse right now and that has greatly limited the time I have to work on the book. However, the moment my shift ends, I go straight to a coffee shop and continue my research and writing. The good news is that I have the entire book outlined. And now that I have the skeletal structure of it worked out all that’s left is for me to flesh it out. Many of the posts I planned on writing for the blog have become sections of the book and that’s why you haven’t heard from me since last summer. I will return to writing blog posts just as soon as my book is completed. Well, I think that just about does it. Thanks again for all the support. I’ll keep you posted on how the book is coming along.
Oh, by the way, one question I’ve received on numerous occasions is how did I come up with the name of the blog. “What does the dangerous maybe mean?” I actually got this from Nietzsche in his classic book Beyond Good and Evil. Here’s the quote from the Walter Kaufmann translation:
For one may doubt, first, whether there are any opposites at all, and secondly whether these popular valuations and opposite values on which the metaphysicians put their seal, are not perhaps merely foreground estimates, only provisional perspectives, perhaps even from some nook, perhaps from below, frog perspectives, as it were, to borrow an expression painters use. For all the value that the true, the truthful, the selfless may deserve, it would still be possible that a higher and more fundamental value for life might have to be ascribed to deception, selfishness, and lust. It might even be possible that what constitutes the value of these good and revered things is precisely that they are insidiously related, tied to, and involved with these wicked, seemingly opposite things — maybe even one with them in essence. Maybe!
But who has the will to concern himself with such dangerous maybes? For that, one really has to wait for the advent of a new species of philosophers, such as have somehow another and converse taste and propensity from those we have known so far — philosophers of the dangerous “maybe” in every sense.
And in all seriousness: I see such new philosophers coming up.
(Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, pp. 10–1)
This passage is from the first chapter titled ‘On the Prejudices of the Philosophers’. Here, Nietzsche is critiquing philosophers for not being philosophical enough. He argues that philosophers often rely on basic prejudices, presuppositions, values and binary oppositions that go unchallenged and unquestioned. A “dangerous maybe” or a maybe that’s dangerous is the act of questioning a fundamental presupposition. A dangerous maybe is a dangerous question. This means “dangerous maybe” is the name of a radical form of philosophizing that challenges all of our foundational assumptions. This involves critiquing not just public opinion (doxa) but also the “opinions” of the great philosophers themselves (philosophical doxa). And this is why I decided to name my blog The Dangerous Maybe. This radical form of philosophy is something I aspire to. Both Nietzsche and Rage Against the Machine “know the power of a question” and I also want to know this power as much as I can. The world is broken and the way forward will be found in a dangerous maybe.