Tuesday, January 25, 2005

And again...
I still don't know what you mean.
The absurd argument between logic and 'soul' is what got all us here in the first place. And I'm not interested in any form of religious/metaphysical argument.

The problem is simple, and although I return to it again and again, I get better at articulating it the more I try. I have my stubbornness (and CT I suppose) to thank for this .

I do not focus on problems that can be solved. I am not interested in such things. I am interesting in aporias, in conflicts that recur, in different forms, again and again.
What is justice? What is obligation? What is the relationship of the individual to the collective? There are no right answers to these questions, but there is a certain form of intelligence that centers on them, though they're ruled by ambiguity and contingency: the form of intelligence that fosters a respect for judgement as opposed to mechanism.

The history of organized religion is the history of formal structures, as in a book of stories and laws that foster debate and define the rules for it to follow. Is it any wonder mysticism is always represented on the fringes of society? But simple faith is not the point. The point is the system of language, of order and community. The existence of God matters no more or less than the guilt or innocence of any one man who comes before a judge. In a courtroom the lawyers perform soliloquies. Isn't it odd that life and death decisions are made this way, by formal rite? What does 'due process' mean anyway?

Most scientists like to solve problems, and once they're solved, they go to the next one. Their language is defined in terms of 'advance' and 'progress'. And many in this country at least extend this logic to their view of the world at large (one of the few exceptions in print these days is Richard Lewontin) This is not a paradigm that I would want for my children to follow. I would not want to think that my children would choose to see the dilemmas of human life as problem to be solved. There's a lot of tragedy to life. It can be cruel. I've seen weak people crushed and strong one's oblivious. I've also seen people very aware of the results of their actions. What does it mean to fire someone for being incompetent, if it means he won't be able to pay the rent? What does it mean to for an officer to send an enlisted man to his death?

None of this has anything to do with religion. It is about the weight that accrues to specifics; a weight about which the hard sciences, as generalization, can say nothing.
Reading Brad DeLong I'm not convinced for one minute that he understands this notion of weight. He's a mechanic, an engineer.
Rules sing for most of you, like music. You think generalizations are the highest form of thought. They're not. The highest form of thought is the ability to communicate specifics. But then once they're communicated they're no longer specific are they?
It's actually a bit flabby, but it's got some nice moments. I may rewrite it.
What a stupid hobby (my excuse this week is that I'm waiting for a call.)
it's interesting to note how much easier the day goes when you get to use your mind in some way. Simply following orders, being denied the opportunity to think, is exhausting.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:25 AM

    i thought you said you were leaving with the new year- don't tell me my dramatic farewell was for nothing!



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