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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30 Dec '17 04:35:58 AM

'What I am sure of is that philosophy was meant to challenge the deadening sense that life cannot be lived well.'

27 Dec '17 05:31:23 AM

'... they teach you how to avoid brick walls...'

26 Dec '17 06:02:41 AM

'You have been complaining that my letters to you are rather carelessly written. Now who talks carefully unless he also desires to talk affectedly? I prefer that my letters should be just what my conversation would be if you and I were sitting in one another's company or taking walks together, spontaneous and easy; for my letters have nothing strained or artificial about them. If it were possible, I should prefer to show, rather than speak, my feelings. Even if I were arguing a point, I should not stamp my foot, or toss my arms about, or raise my voice; but I should leave that sort of thing to the orator, and should be content to have conveyed my feelings to you without having either embellished them or lowered their dignity. I should like to convince you entirely of this one fact, - that I feel whatever I say, that I not only feel it, but am wedded to it. It is one sort of kiss which a man gives to his mistress and another which he gives to his children; yet in the father's embrace also, holy and restrained as it is, plenty of affection is disclosed.

I prefer, however, that our conversation on matters so important should not be meagre and dry; for even philosophy does not renounce the company of cleverness. One should not, however, bestow very much attention upon mere words. Let this be the kernel of my idea: let us say what we feel, and feel what we say; let speech harmonize with life. That man has fulfilled his purpose who is the same person when you see him and when you hear him. We shall not fail to see what sort of man he is and how large a man he is, if only he is one and the same. Our words should not aim to please, but to help. If, however, you can attain eloquence without painstaking, and if you either are naturally gifted or can gain eloquence at slight cost, make the most of it and apply it to the noblest uses. But let it be of such a kind that it displays facts rather than itself. It and the other arts are wholly concerned with cleverness; but our business here is the soul.'

23 Dec '17 06:08:58 AM

'... this fucking thing shouldn't have been allowed to take him from us, and I shouldn't let it take me too.'

22 Dec '17 06:00:15 AM

'The objection is that Molloy is unhappy, that Molloy is an unhappy book...'

22 Dec '17 05:37:07 AM

'Echo reconciles.'

16 Dec '17 05:37:04 AM

'In the past twenty years, my interest has been drawn back to Kant's ethical thought also by my experience of the present age. Our time (the twentieth century, and especially its last two decades) has been, and still is, a disillusioning time in which to live. The social, political, and intellectual climate of my country (and therefore of the globe over which it tyrannizes) has grown blinder, nastier, more irrational. The always dominant economic and political structures have become increasingly wealthy, powerful, arrogant, ambitious, greedy, and shortsighted. As life becomes harder and more hopeless for those excluded from these structures, large numbers of people turn back to old enthusiasms and superstitions, which are usually the pretext for outgrown passions and old hatreds. Ancient and parochial forms of community reassert themselves because the only order presenting itself as new and rational is devoid of any genuine community, since it holds people together only by entangling them in a confused nexus of unbridled power and self-interest. Progressive social movements, whose vocation has been to build a free community grounded on the rational dignity of all human beings, must now use their whole strength and courage merely to survive in a world grown hostile to them. The job of intellectuals is to oppose unreason, speak truth to power, and think the way toward a genuine community. Some, as always, choose instead to apologize for the rationally indefensible; but too many others in our age are caught up in the fashionable mood of irony, absurdity, and self-destruction because they have lost confidence in the mind's authority over human life and its power to find better ways for people to live.

At such a time it is not difficult to see some truth in Kant's somber account of the evil in human nature. It even becomes easier to sympathize with his stern, moralistic insistence that people must subject their ways of thinking to rational criticism and reform their ways of acting through a fundamental change of heart. Still more than that, however, the age needs Kant's sober, principled hope for a more rational, cosmopolitan future. In other words, we need to recapture an authentically Enlightenment conception of the human condition, especially an interpretation of that conception that makes clear the Enlightenment's still unrealized radical potential.'

15 Dec '17 10:15:41 AM

'Do you see whither you bend your gaze, that it is to the earth, that it is to the pit, that it is to these wretched laws of ours, the laws of the dead, and that it is not to the laws of the gods that you look?'

11 Dec '17 07:25:01 AM

'After experience had taught me that all the things which regularly occur in ordinary life are empty and futile, and I saw that all the things which were the cause or object of my fear had nothing of good or bad in themselves, except insofar as [my] mind was moved by them, I resolved at last to try to find out whether there was anything which would be the true good, all others being rejected—whether there was something which, once found and acquired, would continuously give me the greatest joy, to eternity.'