josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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9 Nov '12 07:20:45 AM

Professionals ask, 'where was it published?'.

9 Nov '12 03:10:29 AM

A professional philosopher is a thinker skeptical of the relevance of any thought with no attested precedent; or of the value of spending any time on it.

8 Nov '12 12:52:57 AM

(Compare to the sign in the window of Kierkegaard's secondhand shop.)

8 Nov '12 12:42:51 AM

Scholars say that an author - usually of a philosophical text with literary dimensions - 'invites' us to do this or that, think of this or that, when they wish to treat the text as possessed of a sort of rigor, but also to avoid having to show how this rigor is essentially a matter of the literary dimensions of the text. This is like receiving an invitation, not accepting it, but passing it on to someone else.

'We've been invited!'

'Oh, how nice. Are you going?'

'Well you've been invited! We all have!'

'But what about you?'

I would like to say that this can't be done halfway. To acknowledge the text's rigor is to accept the invitation. The troublesome question should be, can it be accepted at all if one's response is any less literary than the original? And more troublesome: how will one make one's response just as literary, without loss of rigor?

7 Nov '12 07:39:50 PM

'We are working on ourselves. We are incomplete. We are never finished.'

7 Nov '12 03:06:07 PM

'… that stubborn thing inside that insists…'

4 Nov '12 04:04:53 AM

'… reflective criticism should basically go in a direction opposite to that encouraged by ethical theory. Theory looks characteristically for considerations that are very general and have as little distinctive content as possible, because it is trying to systematize and because it wants to represent as many reasons as possible as applications of other reasons. But critical reflection should seek for as much shared understanding as it can find on any issue, and use any ethical material that, in the context of the reflective discussion, makes some sense and commands some loyalty. Of course that will take things for granted, but as serious reflection it must know it will do that. The only serious enterprise is living, and we have to live after the reflection; moreover (though the distinction of theory and practice encourages us to forget it), we have to live during it as well. Theory typically uses the assumption that we probably have too many ethical ideas, some of which may well turn out to be mere prejudices. Our major problem now is actually that we have not too many but too few, and we need to cherish as many as we can.'

3 Nov '12 09:19:42 PM

Some forms of moral criticism risk sounding like, 'why don't you live my life instead of yours?'.

3 Nov '12 07:25:59 AM

'"He would be better off dead" can be said for many dubious reasons: the most dubious is that we would be better off if he were dead.'