Thursday, September 09, 2010

When philosophy professors and others in the related social sciences discuss contemporary thinkers, they make use of empirical methodology and data. But when from there they discuss the foundations of their arguments they go into into the past, to Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau et al., authors for whom propositionalism is as much a literary device as a logical one. The most important commonalities between the present and the past are the claim to be a reliable narrator and the use of the word "science". Political philosophers read Aristotle but not Euripides. Are we supposed to credit Derrida with leading us to the understanding that this distinction is absurd?

We create patterns to make order/power out of perceived disorder/powerlessness. Patterns, the sense of autonomy and belonging within them, give pleasure. Any discussion of "rational action" has to include not only actions that are rationally chosen but also those that are rational as predictable, as aspects of a pattern. Reading text without subtext is irrational in the first sense, in ignoring relevant information. Assuming that it's rational in the second, what other function might it fulfill?

Contemporary political philosophers read Aristotle seriously, but not Euripides. For fun they read the literature of precocious early adolescence.

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