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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28 Oct '23 11:26:26 PM

Snow, technically.

23 Oct '23 10:18:27 PM

‘Es bleibt uns vielleicht irgend ein Baum an dem Abhang, daß wir ihn täglich wiedersähen’

15 Oct '23 02:52:25 AM

'Music can't be stopped.'

5 Oct '23 09:41:12 PM

'… they clearly want people to understand what they're doing.'

23 Sep '23 06:34:33 AM

'Unlike detective stories, noir cases aren't solved, merely survived.'

15 Sep '23 05:11:52 AM

Public philosophy is not made distinct by virtue of the technical answers it can give to this or that issue. After all, sociology, economics, and political science are also well-equipped to propose answers to the vital problems we face. Public philosophy, for its part, is an inescapably cultural practice whose aim is the cultivation of practical reason. What I mean by practical reason here is the development of our implicit yet shared sensibility for what is unreasonable in our social life. Public philosophy is a cumulative activity that can help habituate public sensibilities to detecting not only what is unfortunate in our world—as if poverty, violence, and ecological decay were mere signs that we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. Instead, the task is to explicate how and why these misfortunes follow from the lives we are constrained to lead.’

13 Sep '23 08:01:47 AM

'Ich lerne sehen. Ich weiß nicht, woran es liegt, es geht alles tiefer in mich ein und bleibt nicht an der Stelle stehen, wo es sonst immer zu Ende war. Ich habe ein Inneres, von dem ich nicht wußte. Alles geht jetzt dorthin. Ich weiß nicht, was dort geschieht.'

13 Sep '23 07:44:34 AM

'Porquoi est-ce si difficile ? C'est déjà une question de sémiotique perceptive. Pas facile de percevoir les choses par le milieu, et non de haut en bas ou inversement, de gauche à droite ou inversement : essayez et vous verrez que tout change. Ce n'est pas facile de voir l'herbe dans les choses et les mots…'

13 Sep '23 07:31:26 AM

'What, then, is sensibility? In its most basic and essential determination, from which all other determinations must flow, sensibility is simply the possibility anything possesses to suffer an event where it is taken outside itself, and involuntarily so, where its identity is exceeded by something not in its control. As Diderot says in his Encyclopédie entry on sensation: "Les sensations font sortir l'ame hors d'elle meme." Or, as he says in another context, listing specific cases of events associated with sensibility that mark instances of a self losing itself and its identity: "Sensibility, according to the only accepted usage of that word up until now, is, it seems to me, that disposition in beings, always accompanied by a weakness of the organs—a consequence of excessive mobility of the diaphragm, liveliness of the imagination, or irritability of nerves—that causes them to sympathize, to shudder, to admire, to fear, to be disturbed, to weep to faint, to help others, to run away, to cry out, to lose their reason, to exaggerate, to despise, to disdain, to have no precise idea whatever of the truth, goodness, or beauty, to run mad." Sensibility thus marks both an outside and a possible experience of madness. The outside in question here is, again, not a simple externality, but, as in the case of the conversation, something internal to the soul, part of its very constitution: the soul as ex-posed or ecstatic, "containing" as what is most internal to it, a fundamental ex-cess. Diderot names this excess madness, the madness of the outside.

In the case mentioned above the vocabulary of sensibility and sensation, and the madness of the outside implied by it, is used in relation to the human realm. But this vocabulary is not limited to this realm, and marks for Diderot the basic "determination" of anything that is. Anything whatsoever has to be understood according to the logic of sensibility; that is, anything whatsoever exists in relation to the possibility that it suffer not being itself, or suffer being taken outside itself or its identity, understood as that which makes it what it is. In this sense, nothing exists that is only itself; every entity is always also not itself, "containing" an outside that somehow haunts its identity. In the words of the delirious, dreaming D'Alembert: "All creatures intermingle with each other, consequently all the species… everything is in a perpetual flux. Every animal is more or less man; every mineral is more or less plant; every plant is more or less animal.

The activation of sensibility means a passage through an outside, which for Diderot is a passage through madness, in its being completely undetermined by any identity or preexisting condition; that is, it is completely non-teleological and, in a way, is nothing but the very fact of activating that which has neither beginning nor end: the activation of the in medias res.'