Saturday, February 16, 2013

In honor of Ronald Dworkin.
The importance of getting things "right" [repeats]

Hermann Broch
Although art is no longer a part of the religious system, having become autonomous like all other value-systems since the breakup of that all-encompassing system of religion, reinforcing this autonomy with the principle of l’art pour l’art, nonetheless, art even today has set down its own private theology in a series of aesthetic theories, and continues to hold to its highest value-goal, and this, too, continues to hover in the realm of the infinite, be it called “beauty,” “harmony” or whatever else. And the ethical demand made of the artist is, as always, to produce “good” works, and only the dilettante and the producer of kitsch (whom we meet here for the first time) focus their work on beauty. 
For the esthetic in general as an expression of the supreme ultimate value of a system can influence the result of ethical action only secondarily, just as “wealth” is not the main goal but the side effect of individual commercial activity. And “wealth” itself is an irrational concept. It is an almost mystical process, the setting of ethical values: Arising from the irrational, transforming the irrational to the rational, yet nonetheless it is the irrational that radiates from within the resulting form. 
Chris Bertram
Sometimes, when I’m reading or listening to a paper which excites me with its novelty and brilliance, perhaps because it contains some really elegant move, a mental image comes into my head of Steve McManaman running with the ball, circa 1996. Colin McGinn, writing in the latest Prospect about how he became a philosopher, would see the parallel
The metaphor that best captures my experience with both philosophy and sport is soaring: pole vaulting, gymnastics and windsurfing clearly demonstrate it, but the intellectual highwire act involved in full-throttle philosophical thinking gives me a similar sensation – as if I have taken flight, leaving gravity behind. It is almost like sloughing off mortality. (Plato indeed thought that acquiring abstract knowledge is a return to the prenatal state of the immortal soul.) There is also an impressiveness to these physical and mental skills that appeals to me – they evoke the “wow” reflex. Showing off is an integral part of their exercise; but as I said earlier, I don’t have any objection to showing off. In any case, there is not, for me, the discontinuity between sports and intellectual activities that is often assumed. It is not that you must either be a nerd or a jock; you can be both. It has never surprised me that the ancient Greeks combined a reverence for the mind with a love of sports: both involve an appreciation of the beauties of technique skilfully applied. And both place a high premium on getting it right – exactly right.
[remember that McGinn calls himself an atheist.]

Once again Brian Leiter defends a jurisprudence of how things ought to be. We "ought" to see things "as they are."   
So what's the difference between the twin and opposed oughts of morality and realism? Ought is a term of morality; you dumb fuck.
We can't escape arguing from foundations, even if they're fictional. And Posner is no more a realist than Kissinger. Powerful minds produce dynamic, (powerful), resilient, complex consistency. The relation of that consistency to the world (of which it is a part) is another question entirely. Relations can not be assumed.

Leiter, here, discussing Cardozo and MacPherson reminds me of an art historian I knew who argued that van Gogh was ahead of his time, and had no place in the 19th C. tradition. His specialty was Gothic architecture; he was wrong. van Gogh was as much a part of his time as Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Constitution is "living" because language is living. Quoting myself. I won't bother linking to it:
Kurt Gödel panicked thinking he'd discovered a flaw in the Constitution that could legitimize dictatorship. Some people wonder what he found. Most people just think he was nuts. But he was a mathematician and logician; the flaw he found was language:
Kurt Gödel, meet David Addington.
We argue from beliefs through the common form of language. We can't not argue from morality.
The question is not how we come to truth but how we come to agreement.

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