“Whoever denies authority and fights against it is an anarchist.”
Sébastien Faure as quoted on p. 11 of ‘Anarchism’, by George Woodcock, broadview encore editions, 2004.
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 31-03-2010.]
Since this is at the moment degenerating into a ‘what am I reading’-diary, and I was anyway looking to do a ‘Pop Culture’ entry (it being long ago and all), why not do an anarchist quote?
It’s not like the reader – if any – has a choice in the matter 😉
So I’m an anarchist. That means I have a problem. Because to a real anarchist I will be an example of le nouveau bourgeois. Continue reading
“And as for the relationship of the subject to the truth when he comes to know it, the assumption is that if only the truth is brought to light, its appropriation is a relatively unimportant matter, something which follows as a matter of course. And in any case, what happens to the individual is in the last analysis a matter of indifference. Herein lies the lofty equanimity of the scholar, and the comic thoughtlessness of his parrot-like echo.”
S. Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Princeton 1968, p. 24.
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 28-10-2009, oddly enough one of just a few Kierkegaard quotes (and a really bad quought)! I must already have been getting old ;-]
A friend of mine put my mind again on Kierkegaard. Although I won’t praise the lord for it, I’m thankful for reading him early on in my life. He cured me of many things (one of them trying to be too serious about anything for too long a time). Most notably he cured me of religious group-think (and, consequently but with quite a significant delay, of all and any religious – or with more modern terms: deep, sincere, authentic – sentiment (although not of sentiment as such, see later)). He also cured me of feeling compelled to what is commonly preferred sentence-wise: i.e. short sentences. And of the need to avoid starting sentences with the word “And”.
So I dug in. Continue reading
“So one might, in the end, be faced with the alternatives of either reverting to their theoretically unambitious style or giving up hope altogether of systematizing the linguistic phenomena of natural discourse. To me, neither alternative is very attractive.”
Paul Grice, Studies in the way of words, Prolegomena, p. 4, Harvard University Press, 1989.
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 08-03-2009. Good intentions, but as usual no follow-through. Anyway, these are the origins of quadrialectics.]
I have decided to re-read Grice after completing my reading of Davidson. I think it more and more likely that some kind of “stepping stone theory of language” – as per my not (yet?) published thesis on common sense reasoning – might just be the sort of alternative that Grice would have found attractive. Continue reading
“Maar doodslaan deed hij niet, want tusschen droom en daad
staan wetten in de weg en praktische bezwaren,
en ook weemoedigheid, die niemand kan verklaren,
en die des avonds komt, wanneer men slapen gaat.”
Willem Elsschot, ‘Het Huwelijk’, Verzameld Werk, Van Kampen en Zoon NV, 1957, p. 737.
[Amateuristic English translation: “But slaying her he did not do, for between dream and deed laws stand in the way and practical concerns, and melancholy, which no-one can explain, and which comes at night, when one goes to sleep.”]
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original DD 29/02/09. What can I say, Read The Bloody Poem!]
Something in the above will forever bug me, so let me respond in kind (alas, not
– at all – in quality). Continue reading
“It is further assumed that communicative competence has just as universal a core as linguistic competence. A general theory of speech acts would thus describe precisely that fundamental system of rules that speakers master to the extent that they can fulfill the conditions for a happy employment of sentences in utterances, (..).” J. Habermas in ‘On The Pragmatics of Communication’, edited by Maeve Cooke, P.47, MIT Press, 1998.
I have a great sympathy for some of the failed philosophers like Popper, Habermas and Jaynes. They have a research program based on a great hunch after which they fail to come up with the technical details and get sidelined because of the fact that progress is mostly – and luckily also still in philosophy – a matter of technical progress.
Habermas is important to me because his goal is also my goal: to trace back the moral stance to the basic structure of language and to the preconditions of communication. Such an unashamed aprioristic starting point is to me the only possible route to a really universal claim to humane behaviour; a claim that is not based on traditionalist or maximalist or essentialism assumptions that cannot but lead to a morality characterized by the final non-morality of exclusion.
But he fails in the details.
“Jesus replied Fear not Albion unless I die thou canst not live
But if I die I shall arise again & thou with me
This is Friendship & Brotherhood without it Man Is Not.”
W. Blake, Jerusalem Plate 95, in ‘The Complete Poems’, pp. 841-842, Penguin Books, 1977.
There is in philosophy of language the concept of ‘The Principle of Charity’: you cannot understand – and you cannot, therefore, be understood – if you do not apply a reasonable dose of charity in trying to understand what the other says. The Principle assumes more than mere benevolence, Continue reading
“(..) it is correct to insist, as Spinoza does (..), that ´the Body cannot determine the Mind in thinking, and the Mind cannot determine the Body to Motion”. We should take this to mean that we cannot infer from a cause described in physical terms that a specific mental event will ensue as effect (..): mental and physical concepts belong to independent explanatory systems.” D. Davidson in Truth, Language, and History, Oxford University Press (2005), p. 305-306.
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 17-05-2008. The original stated at the end that it was [to be redone] and I’ll try to redo it but I don’t know whether I have the stomach for it. I kind of hope it will set me up for something I wanted to do on ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ after seeing a documentary on the nth physicist (B. Alan Wallace or so) trying to find ‘deeper truths’ (and naming one specific person only serves the purpose of maybe catching some lost souls via google and, who knows?, rescueing one of them from the stupidities characteristic of the intersection of science and religion). Anyway, the basic reason why so much of religion is appealing is because it focuses on the right kind of conclusions such that it is tempting to also buy the absolutely false premises that go with it. The truth is not found in the past – or by stripping a lot of surface layers. The truth is found in the future – and the new surfaces that are constantly created.]
I cleaned the quote above from the jargon. What follows here can do without.
“La voie de la vérité est une et simple, celle du profit particulier et de la commodité des affaires qu’on a en charge, double, inégale et fortuite.” Michel de Montaigne, Essais Livre III (Flammarion 1969), Chapitre I, p. 34.
(amateuristic English translation – On the useful and the honest: “The way of truth is one and simple, that of personal gain and the good of the business one is in charge of, double, uneven and accidental.”)
[Re-posted from The Old Site (original dated 17-02-2008). I’m glad to find this one now because it shows that there is at least some system to my madness. In light of recent comments it shows there is an original, persistent, resistance to a view that privileges the conscious and the explicitly known; at least that priviliges it as the target outcome.]
As complex as the notion of truth may be, walking the way of truth is felt by all as something immediate. To be truthful is, basically, to be ‘authentic’. Other than other basic feelings, instincts or emotions this feeling however has a basis in reason, it is the instinct proper to reason.
There is no contradiction between utility and intellectual honesty; no conflict between doing the right thing and doing the reasonable thing.
No quote but merely something I once thought (and still kind of think). It has the virtue of expressing the fundamental asymmetry of things. One could also say it expresses something some people would term the ‘directionality’ of life. But that will require some ‘teasing out’, as those same people that would use such terminology would say.
But before any of that: yes, I believe firmly that the title statement above is unequivocally true. Go on and make fun of me – as ‘the great many’ did when I uttered this proposition on the internet somewhat more than a decade ago. It is not just a matter that I believe it is true but also that I believe there is no contradiction – not even a paradox – in proporing this title sentence and believing it is true.
Never mind the ego-centrosm of this last paragraph though, let us examine what the proposition can show us who have enough of an open mind not to require of the utterer of an apparent contradictio in terminis that she is famous in order to take both the utterer and the utterance seriously:
“Das Kind, möchte ich sagen, lernt so und so reagieren; und wenn es das nun tut, so weiss es damit noch nichts. Das wissen beginnt erst auf einer späteren Stufe.” Ludwig Wittgenstein, Über Gewissheit – On Certainty, Clause 538, p. 71-71e, Blackwell Publishing, 1969.
[Re-posted from The Old Site. Original dd. 17-12-2007. In itself the message of this one is so simplistic that I was a little bit ashamed to re-post it here, but a. such are the rules, b. simplistic is not necessarily false and c. the conceptions of & within the ‘analytic’ tradition are such that what is simplistically opposed to this is for many still conceived wisdom.]
(Official English translation: “The child, I should like to say, learns to react in such-and-such a way; and in reacting it doesn´t so far know anything. Knowing only begins at a later level.”)
Philosophy of language is mostly known in its synchronic version. The method of language analysis has been extremely productive. The early Wittgenstein – a sentence corresponding to a certain state of affairs … – is still quoted heavily for his contributions in this vein, however much his name is discredited by the opaque writings (like the one above) of the late Wittgenstein.