“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. Read more »
“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.
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.
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:
- I. Kant, H-G. Gadamer
- J. Habermas, J. Rawls
- D. Davidson, P. Grice
- 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: Read more »
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:
[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 Read more »
[Continued from here.]
Dysfunctional, disaster, disabled, dyslexic, whether in its Greek or more modern version the sound ‘dis’ is a disturbing omen of what we don’t want. Except in one case: the case of being discovered. Some of us want that despite it being an omen all the same.
“Governali spent the fifties as a part of the chorus, but when that silly book of his – Character Crucified on the Cross of the Historical Chronicle – came out, and received raves from the reactionaries who wanted history turned back into biography, and biography backed into moralized little Aesopian fables of fate, fortune, and foolishness, edifying all git out, uplifting as a bra, rosy as the nipples in it, when the Times interviewed him, and public radio did a report; when his promotion came through without a hitch (we didn’t dare vote against it, revealing the envy we felt, the disappointment with our own vacant and weedy lot); Read more »
[Continued from here]
The easiest is to just pack up and go. Not quite, it is easier still to just go. Just go. Go!
“Now I remember where I happened on it: that idea of the novelist as an historian of little lives – lives lost at Cannae, etc. It’s Eliot closing Middlemarch. I’ve looked it up.
… for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
She must mean those who swell the ranks at riots, who comprise mobs, witness executions, contribute to the church. What of those, though, who were simply consumed?” (ibid., p. 246)
Fuck it. I looked it up two and what I remain with is: Fuck it! There are enough causes for hatred out there as there are for the common cold. People working for enterprises big enough to crush the lives of thousands of tough men and women at once. Said people simultaneously raving on one peculiar habit, that of coveting (an ‘y’ anyone?) a real interest in the men and women whose interest it is to be left alone. The common cold may be the commonest cold but that does not make the cold, any cold, common. What? 10 days a year, 15 tops. A characteristic of a subset of a set’s subset defines sad people. It is most common not to have the cold.
Kohler may quote Eliot but George’s fifty/fifty stands to Bill’s nihilism as something that is, unfortunately, already slightly over halfway to being close to the truth. Yes, that’s opaque (a bright kind of dark).
How many make up a royal we? One would say one. Two is a crowd. One and one subtracted from Two is vanishingly small. Take your pick; the middle is excluded. And so are we.
“I gave up poetry for history in my youth. I gave up smoking; changed handwriting; traded stamps which I’d collected in my childhood for tables of mature statistics, seldom drank; was torn between the ethics of the Stoics and the ethics of Immanuel Kant; no longer moved to music; wrote out rules for my behavior and rigorously kept them, assigning grades; though abstract thoughts and shrank from women; cultivated bibliographies in paper pots; lived in a house of heavy books. What led me once to Germany – Hölderlin and Rilke – remained pure imagery. Hölderlin went mad. Rilke’s blood decayed. I gave up youth.” (ibid. p. 78)
To this date I do not understand why anybody would want to write lines that are not fully justified. Or neglect to adapt the wording to maximally fill a line. Ill justified lines lay thoughts out. Get that? Or …
Here I am, looking at the book seeing how my dog ears are few and far between at the beginning becoming more frequent to the end where they stand together like a pack of hounds. Now I have about two hours per week to unpack them and see how they bark. If they bark. Anyway, I have no option but to howl.
“I began, I remember, because I felt I had to. I’d reached that modest height in my career, that gentle rise, from which I could coast out of gear to a soft stop. Now I wonder why not. Why not? But then duty drove me forward like a soldier. I said it was time for “the Big Book.” the long monument to my mind I repeatedly dreamed I had to have: a pyramid, a column tall enough to satisfy the sky. Duty drove me the way it drives men into marriage.” (pp. 4-5)
That wasn’t even dog-eared. Two hours per week for – who knows? – 20 weeks to go through a book which took – what? – 20 years to write. And I don’t like re-reading. The only column I ever re-read was Musil’s pyramid only to find in its chambers my supposedly original thoughts lying around like the mummified remains of my pretenses.
“I faced the four corners, cupped the bowl of my glass like a breast, began the construction of my anecdote, and let the wine die.” (p. 8) Read more »