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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1 Sep '12 06:28:47 AM

'In one sense, this is simply the culmination of a single, radically reflexive movement of thought, the starting-point to which Heidegger is compelled by his attempt to render the grounds or presuppositions of inquiry into Being and its meaning as minimal, as explicit and as transparent as possible—by working out in a preliminary way his preconception of Being (as that which determines entities as entities, that on the basis of which entities are always already understood), of questioning, and of the being who questions (i.e. ourselves). In doing so, the task of inquiring into the Being of the being who questions appears as an essential preliminary to the task of inquiring into Being and its meaning—a prologue or introduction to, and hence essentially separable from, Heidegger's central inquiry. Furthermore, that preliminary inquiry's only two presuppositions about its object are that questioning is one possibility of its Being, and that its Being is our Being—in other words, that in questioning Dasein with regard to its Being, we are questioning ourselves about our ability to question. The term 'Dasein' thus does have a positive content that goes beyond its non-identity with the myriad other terms that the history of philosophy and human culture have generated for the Being of human beings; but it is difficult to see how an inquiry which finds (and cannot avoid finding) its initial orientation in the aim of reawakening our ability to question could presuppose a more minimal preconception of a human being. Heidegger's distinctive gift lies in his capacity to allow that tiny seed to germinate, elaborating from the idea of Dasein as questioner an articulation of his inquiry that will provide him with food for thought not only throughout Being and Time, but far beyond it.'

1 Sep '12 05:47:42 AM


'As if signalling these revisions, and prompting us to question them, a significant portion of the Journal's passages are explicitly interrogative. Therefore, although when I consider a passage it may seem as if I am asking rhetorical questions to which I know the answers, in the Journal, as I shall explain in a moment, questions are integral to the meaning of the passages which often seem at once catechistic and confusing. It might have been strategic to conduct my discussions as if this were not the case, but the fact is that the unsettling of perspective—specifically by raising the question of how part of a phenomenon is related to the whole of that phenomenon or to another phenomenon—is not just the Journal's practice; it is often the Journal's subject.

The Journal does, however, provide hints about interpreting its meaning, first, as I have noted, by making statements consistently interrogative, and therefore by suggesting that to understand the work we must keep their interrogative form intact; secondly, by composing the Journal discourse of what Thoreau variously calls "pictures" and "views." Here we might add the word "illustrations" to describe what the Journal anthologizes, for as the idea of serially collected "pictures" and "views" (which aspire to the formation of a composite whole) implies, renditions of a natural phenomenon exemplify its aspects. The Journal further insists that illustrations of nature are tainted by, and further made to participate in, the questions that surround them. This is true partly because questions and illustrations are often syntactically inseparable. It is true partly because the very impulse to continue regarding a single landscape—to record multiple instances of it—implies questions about its meaning. I therefore understand Thoreau's propensity to ask questions, to see the landscape as a series of pictures, and to regard pictures as potential illustrations (of what, it is unclear) to be related.…'

1 Sep '12 04:55:52 AM

21 October 1857: 'Is not the poet bound to write his own biography? Is there any other work for him but a good journal?'

Not a usual sense of 'biography'.

1 Sep '12 04:30:30 AM

'they're peddlers and they're meddlers / they buy and they sell / they destroyed your city / they'll destroy you as well'

1 Sep '12 03:21:20 AM

Come on now, am I really supposed to think Rick Ross runs in those?

1 Sep '12 02:55:31 AM

'Le Huffington Post, the French version of The Huffington Post'

31 Aug '12 06:20:03 PM

There are philosophers for whom examples are just examples, and philosophers for whom they are not.

31 Aug '12 06:05:19 AM

13 July 1852: 'A journal, a book that shall contain a record of all your joy, your ecstasy.'

21 March 1853: 'Might not my Journal be called "Field Notes?"'

31 Aug '12 06:02:40 AM

An explicit instance of a journal-keeper reviewing his work: on 14 May 1852 Thoreau goes back over what he has written since 28 April, and recopies both the flowers and the birds he has seen, putting them into two tables by date of observation. Then, a similar table of 'the phenomena of spring', including 'Saw frog spawn', 'A large water-bug', 'Sit without fire to-night', 'Wasps', 'Ant-hills', 'Ground still frozen in some places', 'A green snake'.

Writing himself a report from his field notes.