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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25 Nov '08 08:05:03 AM

'The whole thing comes to depend thus on the quality of bewilderment characteristic of one's creature'

21 Nov '08 07:37:54 AM

'This is the only Instance, it is believed, when he condescended to take Notice of any Thing that had been written against him; and here his chief Intention seems to have been to make Sport.'

5 Nov '08 04:59:42 PM

'Our union can be perfected.'

2 Nov '08 06:56:15 PM

'Yeah, suck it, I do read the paper.'

24 Oct '08 07:35:23 AM

'We may not be the best people...'

'But we're not the worst.'

'Graduate students are the worst.'

14 Oct '08 07:41:33 AM

In case you're wondering what to buy me for Christmas this year, I've decided to make it easy on you.

2 Oct '08 08:19:10 PM

'It seems like she sleeps an awful lot.'

'They all do.'

2 Oct '08 10:04:13 AM

'And I always thought: the very simplest words
Must be enough. When I say what things are like
Everyone's heart must be torn to shreds.
That you'll go down if you don't stand up for yourself.
Surely you see that.'

24 Sep '08 08:52:59 AM

'When my reasons come to an end and I am thrown back upon myself, upon my nature as it has so far shown itself, I can, supposing I cannot shift the ground of discussion, either put the pupil out of my sight - as though his intellectual reactions are disgusting to me - or I can use the occasion to go over the ground I had hitherto thought foregone. If the topic is that of continuing a series, it may be learning enough to find that I just do; to rest upon myself as my foundation. But if the child, little or big, asks me: Why do we eat animals? or Why are some people poor and others rich? or What is God? or Why do I have to go to school? or Do you love black people as much as white people? or Who owns the land? or Why is there anything at all? or How did God get here?, I may find my answers thin, I may run out of reasons without being willing to say "This is what I do" (what I say, what I sense, what I know), and honor that.

Then I may feel that my foregone conclusions were never conclusions I had arrived at, but were merely imbibed by me, merely conventional. I may blunt that realization through hypocrisy or cynicism or bullying. But I may take the occasion to throw myself back upon my culture, and ask why we do what we do, judge as we judge, how we have arrived at these crossroads. What is the natural ground of our conventions, to what are they in service? It is inconvenient to question a convention; that makes it unserviceable, it no longer allows me to proceed as a matter of course; the paths of action, the paths of words, are blocked. "To imagine a language means to imagine a form of life." (cf. ยง19). In philosophizing, I have to bring my own language and life into imagination. What I require is a convening of my culture's criteria, in order to confront them with my words and life as I pursue them and as I may imagine them; and at the same time to confront my words and life as I pursue them with the life my culture's words may imagine for me: to confront the culture with itself, along the lines in which it meets in me.

This seems to me a task that warrants the name of philosophy. It is also the description of something we might call education. In the face of the questions posed in Augustine, Rousseau, Thoreau . . . , we are children; we do not know how to go on with them, what ground we may occupy. In this light, philosophy becomes the education of grownups. It is as though it must seek perspective on a natural fact which is all but inevitably misinterpreted - that at an early point in life the normal body reaches its full strength and height. Why do we take it that because we then must put away childish things, we must put away the prospect of growth and the memory of childhood? The anxiety in teaching, in serious communication, is that I myself require education. And for grownups this is not natural growth, but change. Conversion is a turning of our natural reactions; so it is symbolized as rebirth.'