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 Jan '14 08:33:09 PM

'This taste, this clinamen, can either be warded off or embraced. To take on a form-of-life is not simply to know a penchant: it means to think it. I call thought that which converts a form-of-life into a force, into a sensible effectivity.

In every situation there is one line that stands out among all the others, the line along which power grows. Thought is the capacity for singling out and following this line. A form-of-life can be embraced only by following this line, meaning that: all thought is strategic.

… "My" form-of-life does not relate to what I am, but to how, to the specific way, I am what I am. In other words, between a being and its qualities, there is the abyss of its own presence and the singular experience I have of it, at a certain place and time. Unfortunately for Empire, the form-of-life animating a body is not to be found in any of its predicates—big, white, crazy, rich, poor, carpenter, arrogant, woman, or French—but in the singular way of its presence, in the irreducible event of its being-in-situation. And it is precisely where predication is most violently applied—in the rank domain of morality—that its failure fills us with joy: when, for example, we come across a completely abject being whose way of being abject nevertheless touches us in such a way that any repulsion within us is snuffed out, and in this way proves to us that abjection is itself a quality.

To embrace a form-of-life means being more faithful to our penchants than to our predicates.'

9 Jan '14 07:43:08 PM

'… such is the nature of "own paths." No one comes to help him along the way; he alone must contend with all the danger, chance, malice, and bad weather that befall him. He has his path for himself—and also of course his bitterness, his occasional vexation over this "for himself": part of which includes, for instance, his knowledge that even his friends cannot discern where he is or where he's going and that, from time to time, they ask themselves, "What? Is he even going at all? Does he still have—a path?"'

9 Jan '14 07:34:27 PM

'… seen from the world of appearances, from the marketplace, the thinking ego always lives in hiding, lathē biōsas. And our question, What makes us think?, is actually inquiring about ways and means to bring it out of hiding, to tease it, as it were, into manifestation.

The best, in fact the only, way I can think of to get hold of the question is to look for a model, an example of a thinker who was not a professional, who in his person unified two apparently contradictory passions, for thinking and acting—not in the sense of being eager to apply his thoughts or to establish theoretical standards for action but in the much more relevant sense of being equally at home in both spheres and able to move from one sphere to the other with the greatest apparent ease, very much as we ourselves constantly move back and forth between experiences in the world of appearances and the need for reflecting on them. Best suited for this role would be a man who counted himself neither among the many nor among the few (a distinction at least as old as Pythagoras), who had no aspiration to be a ruler of men, no claim even to be particularly well fitted by his superior wisdom to act in an advisory capacity to those in power, but not a man who submitted meekly to being ruled either; in brief, a thinker who always remained a man among men, who did not shun the marketplace, who was a citizen among citizens, doing nothing, claiming nothing except what in his opinion every citizen should have a right to. Such a man ought to be difficult to find: if he were able to represent for us the actual thinking activity, he would not have left a body of doctrine behind; he would not have cared to write down his thoughts even if, after he was through with thinking, there had been any residue tangible enough to set out in black and white.'

9 Jan '14 07:19:39 PM

'My own decision to study philosophy was quite common then, though perhaps not run-of-the-mill, and this commitment to a bios theoretikos, to a contemplative way of life, already implied, even though I may not have known it, a noncommitment to the public. Old Epicurus' exhortation to the philosopher, lathe biosas, "live in hiding," frequently misunderstood as a counsel of prudence, actually arises quite naturally out of the way of life of the thinker. For thinking itself, as distinct from other human activities, not only is an activity that is invisible—that does not manifest itself outwardly—but also and in this respect perhaps uniquely, has no urge to appear or even a very restricted impulse to communicate to others. Since Plato, thinking has been defined as a soundless dialogue between me and myself; it is the only way in which I can keep myself company and be content with it. Philosophy is a solitary business, and it seems only natural that the need for it arises in times of transition when men no longer rely on the stability of the world and their role in it, and when the question concerning the general conditions of human life, which as such are properly coeval with the appearance of man on earth, gain an uncommon poignancy.'

9 Jan '14 07:02:47 PM

'… a non-political, totally private way of life, the true fulfillment of Epicurus' lathe biōsas kai mē politeuesthai ("live in hiding and do not care about the world")…'

9 Jan '14 05:00:25 PM

'Since dumb has nothing to lose, dumb owes nothing to anyone, and in that way it is free.'

8 Jan '14 05:17:58 AM

'Among us, piracy is illegal and unjust; but among many foreigners it is not out of place. They say that the Cilicians deemed it actually to be glorious, so that they thought people killed during pirate raids worthy of honour. And in Homer Nestor, after welcoming Telemachus and his friends, says to them, "Or are you wandering without aim like pirates?"—but if piracy had been something out of place he would not have welcomed them as he did because of his suspicion that this was what they were.'

7 Jan '14 01:04:59 AM

Refusal, curiosity, innovation

6 Jan '14 09:10:24 PM

'On Instruments of Composition'