• StreetlightX
    3.6k
    Probably one of the most intellectually titillating prefaces to a book I've read in a while:

    "Philosophers, past and present alike, have invariably been prone to be long on promises and short on performance. Priding themselves on their 'solutions', they are in fact remembered and cherished for the problems which they raised. Their 'solutions', above all, have proved to be - for us - problems. I know of scarcely one philosopher (Socrates always excepted) who ever raised a problem as a problem. I mean terminally as a problem, not merely by way of entry into his theme.

    Thus Zeno himself never viewed his paradoxes as problems; he advanced them only as proofs calculated to establish the impossibility or unintelligibility of motion. There have been dogmatic and there have been sceptical, but there have been no problematic philosophers. More precisely, there have been no problematic philosophers eo nomine, though in fact none has succeeded in being anything case. They have lacked self-knowledge. They have failed to understand the true dignity of their achievements. For the problematic character of philosophy, certainly of all philosophy up to the present, need not be altogether a misfortune. It is the happy suggestion of Leo Strauss that Plato understood the eternal Ideas to be the great range of problems that preside over man's deepest reflections and that it is in being open to those problems, as problems, that he acquires Socratic ignorance, which is the same as Socratic wisdom"

    - Jose Benardete, Infinity
  • Bitter Crank
    7.7k
    Nils Loc, 1-4-19 in "The Future Of Fantasy"

    "The only virtual world is the actual world."

    Your pithy post was put in The Philosophy Forum Quote Cabinet.
  • StreetlightX
    3.6k
    Might be posting quite a few passages from Cavell in the next few weeks;

    On pain and words:

    "Utterances [of pain] are expressions of it: "I know I'm in pain", "It's getting worse", "It's throbbing", are as much expressions of pain as "I'm in pain" is. Pain gets into the words, as hope or comfort get into words of hope or comfort (they wouldn't be such words otherwise). Or words are part of its suppression, or of distraction from it. They need not be to distract me from my pain, in which case the words may race, as if to get out of range; but to distract you from it (as in Chekhov); there is nothing anyone can do about it, and it might deprive me of your company if you knew; and anyway I don't know any words for it. Here my words don't reach all the way to my pain".

    On speaking and politics:

    "To speak for oneself politically is to speak for the others with whom you consent to association, and it is to consent to be spoken for by them — not as a parent speaks for you, i.e., instead of you, but as someone in mutuality speaks for you, i.e., speaks your mind. Who these others are, for whom you speak and by whom you are spoken for, is not known a priori, though it is in practice generally treated as given. To speak for yourself then means risking the rebuff — on some occasion, perhaps once for all — of those for whom you claimed to be speaking; and it means risking having to rebuff — on some occasion, perhaps once for all — those who claimed to be speaking for you. There are directions other than the political in which you will have to find your own voice — in religion, in friendship, in parenthood, in love, in art — and to find your own work; and the political is likely to be heartbreaking or dangerous. So are the others.

    But in the political, the impotence of your voice shows up quickest; it is of importance to others to stifle it; and it is easiest to hope there, since others are in any case included in it, that it will not be missed if it is stifled, i.e., that you will not miss it. But once you recognize a community as yours, then it does speak for you until you say it doesn't, i.e., until you show that you do. A fortunate community is one in which the issue is least costly to raise; and only necessary to raise on brief, widely spaced, and agreed upon occasions; and, when raised, offers a state of affairs you can speak for, i.e., allows you to reaffirm the polis".

    On strength:

    "It is like trying to throw a feather; for some things, breath is better than strength; stronger".
  • S
    10.2k
    "It is like trying to throw a feather; for some things, breath is better than strength; stronger".StreetlightX

    Or you could tape it to a tennis ball.

    @Baden, Bart Simpson wisdom.
  • StreetlightX
    3.6k
    More Cavell! - On Morality:

    "I take it that most moral philosophers have assumed that the validity of morality depended upon its competence to assess every action (except those which are "caused, "determined) and that the possibility of repudiating morality anywhere meant its total repudiation as fully rational; that a fully rational morality must be capable of evaluating the highest excellence and the most unspeakable evil, and that persons of the highest excellence and most unspeakable evil must agree with our moral evaluations if these evaluations are to be fully rational. I think of this as the moralization of moral theory - it makes any and every issue a moral issue, and for no particular reason. Such a conception has done to moral philosophy and to the concept of morality what the events of the modern world have often done to the moral life itself: made it a matter of academic questions.

    Morality must leave itself open to repudiation; it provides one possibility of settling conflict, a way of encompassing conflict which allows the continuance of personal relationship against the hard and apparently inevitable fact of misunderstanding, mutually incompatible wishes, commitments, loyalties, interests and needs, a way of mending relationships and maintaining the self in opposition to itself or others. Other ways of settling or encompassing conflict are provided by politics, religion, love and forgiveness, rebellion, and withdrawal. Morality is a valuable way because the others are so often inaccessible or brutal; but it is not everything; it provides a door through which someone, alienated or in danger of alienation from another through his action, can return by the offering and the acceptance of explanation, excuses and justifications, or by the respect one human being will show another who sees and can accept the responsibility for a position which he himself would not adopt".
  • StreetlightX
    3.6k
    Yet more Cavell - On Horror and the Human:

    "I do not expect that horror movies really cause honor, but, at best, "horror". But I also do not know that I know the difference. I do not suppose that what I have, when I am horrified, is horror; it may only be "horror". - What is the object of horror? At what do we tremble in this way? Fear is of danger; terror is of violence, of the violence I might do or that might he done me. I can be terrified of thunder, but not horrified by it. And isn't it the case that not the human horrifies me, hut the inhuman, the monstrous? Very well. But only what is human can be inhuman. - Can only the human be monstrous? If something is monstrous, and we do not believe that there are monsters, then only the human is a candidate for the monstrous.

    If only humans feel horror (if the capacity to feel horror is a development of the specifically human biological inheritance), then maybe it is a response specifically to being human. To what, specifically, about being human? Horror is the title I am giving to the perception of the precariousness of human identity, to the perception that it may be lost or invaded, that we may be, or may become, something other than we are, or take ourselves for; that our origins as human beings need accounting for, and are unaccountable"

    On Descartes:

    "In the light of this passing of the question of the other, a change is noticeable in the coda Descartes supplies his argument at the end of this third Meditation:

    'The whole force of the argument I have here used to prove the existence of God consists in the fact that I recognize that it would not be possible for my nature to be what it is, possessing the idea of a God, unless God really existed- the same God, I say, the idea of whom I possess, the God who possess all these high perfections... [who] cannot be a deceiver...'

    The main point of summary is that I could not have produced the idea I have of God, for it can have come from nothing less than God himself. But a new note of necessity is also struck, that without the presence of this idea in myself, and (hence) the presence of the fact of which it is the imprint, my own nature would necessarily not be what it is. (Nietzsche's idea of the death of God can be understood to begin by saying roughly or generally as much: the idea of God is part of (the idea of) human nature. If that idea dies, the idea of human nature equally dies.) So not only the fact, as it were, of my existence, but the integrity of it, depends upon this idea. And so these meditations are about the finding of self-knowledge after all: of the knowledge of a human self by a human self."
  • StreetlightX
    3.6k
    Cavell on modernism and philosophy:

    "The essential fact of (what I refer to as) the modern lies in the relation between the present practice of an enterprise and the history of that enterprise, in the fact that this relation has become problematic. Innovation in philosophy has characteristically gone together with a repudiation — a specifically cast repudiation — of most of the history of the subject. But in the later Wittgenstein (and, I would now add, in Heidegger’s Being and Time) the repudiation of the past has a transformed significance, as though containing the consciousness that history will not go away, except through our perfect acknowledgement of it (in particular, our acknowledgement that it is not past), and that one’s own practice and ambition can be identified only against the continuous experience of the past.

    But “the past” does not in this context refer simply to the historical past; it refers to one’s own past, to what is past, or what has passed, within oneself. One could say that in a modernist situation “past” loses its temporal accent and means anything “not present.” Meaning what one says becomes a matter of making one’s sense present to oneself.

    ...The modern [is] ... a moment in which history and its conventions can no longer be taken for granted; the time in which music and painting and poetry (like nations) have to define themselves against their pasts; the beginning of the moment in which each of the arts becomes its own subject, as if its immediate artistic task is to establish its own existence. The new difficulty which comes to light in the modernist situation is that of maintaining one’s belief in one’s own enterprise, for the past and the present become problematic together. I believe that philosophy shares the modernist difficulty now everywhere evident in the major arts, the difficulty of making one’s present effort become a part of the present history of the enterprise to which one has committed one’s mind, such as it is."

    --

    On words and world:

    "Now imagine that you are in your armchair reading a book of reminiscences and come across the word “umiak.’’ You reach for your dictionary and look it up. Now what did you do? Find out what “umiak” means, or find out what an umiak is? But how could we have discovered something about the world by hunting in the dictionary? If this seems surprising, perhaps it is because we forget that we learn language and learn the world together, that they become elaborated and distorted together, and in the same places. We may also be forgetting how elaborate a process the learning is. We tend to take what a native speaker does when he looks up a noun in a dictionary as the characteristic process of learning language. (As, in what has become a less forgivable tendency, we take naming as the fundamental source of meaning.)

    But it is merely the end point in the process of learning the word. When we turned to the dictionary for “umiak” we already knew everything about the word, as it were, but its combination: we knew what a noun is and how to name an object and how to look up a word and what boats are and what an Eskimo is. We were all prepared for that umiak. What seemed like finding the world in a dictionary was really a case of bringing the world to the dictionary. We had the world with us all the time, in that armchair; but we felt the weight of it only when we felt a lack in it. Sometimes we will need to bring the dictionary to the world. That will happen when (say) we run across a small boat in Alaska of a sort we have never seen and wonder—what? What it is, or what it is called? In either case, the learning is a question of aligning language and the world. What you need to learn will depend on what specifically it is you want to know; and how you can find out will depend specifically on what you already command. How we answer the question, “What is X?” will depend, therefore, on the specific case of ignorance and of knowledge."
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