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Home for the heteronomous

Sunday Stories: Paideia (1?)

I had visitors yesterday: an old friend who moved abroad and visited his home country with his kids. His eldest is a year younger than mine is. The discussion came to choosing the right path for their higher education. My son chose politics. His son is about to chose civil engineering. There is no discussion these choices are the right ones for the two respective adolescents. The interesting part of the conversation was my friends’ sons’ question to my son on his choice: “Qué es la salida?” (could have been ‘Cuál’, my Spanish is kind of rusty).

This sums up the modern view of education: you learn to be able to land the right job. But whilst the job may be the right one, is this the right conception? Continue reading

December 29, 2013 Posted by | shameless self-promotion, Sunday Stories | , , , , , , | Comments Off

Tuesday Quought: Transzendentale Methodenleere

“We have found, indeed, that although we had contemplated building a tower which should reach to the heavens, the supply of materials suffices only for a dwelling-house, just sufficiently commodious for our business on the level of experience, and just sufficiently high to allow our overlooking it. The bold undertaking that we had designed is thus bound to fail through lack of material – not to mention the babel of tongues, which inevitably gives rise to disputes among the workers in regard to the plan to be followed, and which must end by scattering them all over the world, leaving each to erect a separate building for himself, according to his own design. At present, however, we are concerned not so much with the materials as with the plan; and inasmuch as we have been warned not to venture at random upon a blind project which may alltogether beyond our capacities, and yet cannot well abstain from building a secure home for ourselves, we must plan our building in conformity with the material which is given to us, and which is also at the same time appropriate to our needs.”, Immanuel Kant, Kritik der Reinen Vernunft, Reclam, 1966, p. 726 – this is the semi-official English internet translation of the original passage.

[I am re-posting this from another blog of mine out of nostalgia. This is a favorite quote of mine and my quought of 2008 actually is, in an endearing kind of way, something that has stayed constant in my head over the past 30 odd years.]

I know: a poet he was not. Nevertheless, this is a sublime poetic truth. It is much like my history teacher (the forever unknown Jef Arras) told me twenty years before I mustered the courage to read, happily unguided as ever, this rather annoying but great book: there was philosophy before and after Kant, and only the latter is of real significance. Continue reading

November 24, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , | Comments Off

Sunday Stories: The eater

We went to the theater last night. There was a message there somewhere. As could be expected, I guess, from a piece carrying like a cross the title ‘Golgotha’ (never mind the addition ‘picnic’). Anyway, we didn’t get it. Too unprepared I assume. One doesn’t go unprepared to a thing filled to the brim with biblical references and come out unpunished. That’s a pun. Well, at least pun-ish.

I peed when it was done, then smoked, then joined the after-theater. I was hungry. The thing is that I don’t cope well with alcohol, less so when I’m hungry. So now I’m in a foul mood writing this. But back to last night, I drank beer and only got my snacks during the second one. At which time I ate almost all. Conversation til then was about what it meant, the piece. And why there was so much nudity. “What makes a couple of tits and penises so essential to modern theater?”, was the second plate and actually the main meal. ‘God only could know what it meant.’, was the quick outcome of the first dish. Even if God was hated in it. Or so it seemed because on the other hand there was a large and, all things considered, long piano piece of Haydn in it. Let’s go out on a limb and posit that Haydn did hate God and move on to nudity.

Continue reading

October 6, 2013 Posted by | Sunday Stories | Comments Off

Tuesday Quought: all that has an end has an end

“Meaningful criteria are not simply those posited by society – or those of our ancestors – applied as law to a given case. Rather, every concrete determination by the individual contributes to socially meaningful norms. The problem is similar to that of correct speech. There too we find undisputed agreement on what is admissible, and we subject it to codification. The teaching of language in schools, for example, make it necessary that the schoolmaster apply these rules. But language continues to live, and it thrives not according to a strict adherence to rules, but by general innovations in spoken usage, and in the last instance from the contributions of every individual.” Hans-Georg Gadamer, in “On Education, Poetry, and History. Applied Hermeneutics, SUNY, 1992, p. 173.

It’s hard writing this and at the same time listening to a live report in Spanish of a Real Madrid game. All indications are I’d do better doing neither. But here I am, thinking about whether things that – like my life, this place – ultimately come to an end still come to an end. They do. Although not in the way most people like their ends – final, clean and clear cut -, they do. Every contribution contributes. To what? How? No clue. A certain amount of voluntarism is indispensable. Not a question of laissez faire the big things but one of laissez aller the small ones.

Continue reading

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , | 2 Comments

Philosophy according to JoB: objective 3

I started here with an overview of the objectives. I continued here with the second one dedicated to our prior art. It is now time to finish this with the third and final objective which, when reached, will ensure a common context (foundation) for the real work we’d like to do later on.

This is what we said before about this objective:

3. Acquire the ability to integrate the prior art with the goals

Now this was probably not the most fortunate way of putting it. Acquiring an ability is an activity. Unless we believe all of the nonsense of brain scientists, there is no way of monitoring whether such a process takes place let alone whether it takes place successfully. To put it more directly: we can all think we are acquiring all kinds of abilities whilst we are just acquiring the ability of procrastination combined with that of complacency. The flip side of this is that anybody can attest to anybody else of us ‘doing our best’ or ‘putting in a lot of work’ but whilst all of that may have ‘merit’, neither has a direct link with that ability we want acquired.

So the better formulation would have been ‘to demonstrate the acquisition of the ability to integrate the prior art with the goals’ (even if it sounds horrible, as a sentence). How to demonstrate this? Via language of course. In our case specifically by using language to demonstrate we can create original links between the 8 philosophers reviewed and the conjecture of progress being the nature of language.

Below the fold you will find the concrete steps to do this in this community. Your contribution could well demonstrate in concrete fact an example of progress by language. In fact, that is the third objective.

Continue reading

June 16, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , | Comments Off

Philosophy according to JoB: objective 2

I left it here at stating the first two objectives with the second one being:

‘Understand the basic prior art i.e. relevant philosophy’ means that

  • you are able to pinpoint the basic claim to fame of following thinkers:
  1. I. Kant, H-G. Gadamer
  2. J. Habermas, J. Rawls
  3. D. Davidson, P. Grice
  4. H. Kyburg Jr., G. Gigerenzer
  • you can understand why they are in four categories, and,
  • you can inter-relate the main themes of their respective works.

Assuming you have completed the first bullet, I owe you some explanation on the last two bullets. Here goes: Continue reading

May 28, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , | 1 Comment

Philosophy according to JoB: objectives

This is an experiment in which I claim no expertise. The previous sentence will be my only disclaimer.

The goal is to join together people to examine the justifications for a belief I have: progress is the nature of language. I hope this is not an original thought because if it would be its examination would have to rely on the unlikely coincidence that the right people would find me and join me in a sustained way despite my strenuous use of language. I further hope that people do join and, if so, that they  join in the spirit of amateurism. Why the latter? Because my belief entails – or so I believe – that any true communication presupposes that amateurs, if sufficiently motivated, can contribute to it (call that “the grounding principle“).

Let me not get ahead of ourselves though: before we can get to the goal we have to cover our preliminaries. In this case, we have to establish a common context (a mental meeting place if you will) where we of course may see things differently but not because we see different things. This is the starting point as individuals can only come together after having established a common context i.e. after having formed a community. I know all this begs the initial question. That shouldn’t be an issue, I spoke of my belief as a belief and we have time to come back to whether it is justified or not (so I ask you to apply another corollary of my belief – one coined by Grice – “the principle of co-operation“).

The following three objectives are set for individuals aspiring to be part of this community:

  1. Continue reading

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sunday Stories: Gass if

Time for my story.  It might very well be the last (I say, as if anybody cares). As if I care whether manybodies care. Faux is the pas of making an out-of-bracket comment on a between brackets comment. And that quite sums up my story. That and a rather improper use of the words ‘and’ and ‘that’ and that mainly at the start of sentences. And excessive self-commenting, I guess. That too.

As if I know the only one watching me am I; compelling me to do, comment on doing and reflect on the commenting – all at once. Not – also not a word to lead a sentence with, I might add (and just did: add that is) – particularly an attraction people will pay for. Not even an attraction people won’t pay for. Not even one to ignore. Just something not to notice. What if, then again, what if such and such?

Continue reading

April 28, 2013 Posted by | Sunday Stories | , , , , | Comments Off

The Sunday Tunnel: No Light, No Tunnel

[Continues from here.]

This is where it ends. Where I start yet another life filled to the brim with dreams that, if not frustrated, will get frustrating. So much is true of any tunnel: that if there is no light at the end of it, it is no tunnel (regardless of timeless logic which may always hold but which in time never applies.

“(..) you always lose at solitaire, she said, smiling a rare, mother-made smile: crosswords are never completed, only given up, and card games like these are never won; that’s why I play them.” (ibid., p. 631)

The truth in this book has been ample and like that word it feels amputated as if the truth in this book is a phantom joy, the sensation of excitement felt in what is no longer there. Cut and left wet, moist with tears for what cannot be; a be that stings, a life that stinks.

“But every dark is different. Some darks may be boundless, stratospherical, pure, but I prefer mine circumscribed like a corset, and where, if I had a soul, it would be squoozen, and where, when I’m found, I’ll be identified as the remains of a Continue reading

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Sunday Stories | , , , | 1 Comment

The Sunday Tunnel: Mother Makes a Cake

[Continues from here.]

“Early in life, I learned to fear my birthday. Later, Christmas would follow close behind in the measured amount of my dislike. Finally, every holiday, even the Fourth of July, my former favorite, would fill me with apprehension. But it was the onset of my birthday which made my palms sweat.” (ibid., p. 604).

This is a day for me where (when?) I am off; like: milk off, like: not turned on. This is the day I should need to quote from the best piece of prose I ever read. Luckily I am off: it spares me the frustration of not being able to do justice to what has to be quoted, so allowing me to cover my disability with inability. Read it, few friends, and weep because it is all that is wrong about the world and it also has the essence of what is good about this world. Charity as in hypocritical keeping up appearances and the Gricean principle of charity trying, even if flat-out failing, to understand.

This is not it but it is something which is neither false nor falsch:

Continue reading

April 6, 2013 Posted by | Sunday Stories | , , | 2 Comments

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