Friday, August 05, 2005

On Emil Jannings:

My primary intellectual interest is the defense of skill, of an idea of mastery over a medium, trade, or craft. Most intellectuals, now, even those who make their living searching for meaning in others' workmanship, are bothered by such arguments.  They associate skill with beauty, but beauty no longer with truth.  I'm not going to explain why this is so any more than I'm going to say they're wrong. They're not.  But lawyers are not legal philosophers for the simple reason that legal philosophers are not craftsmen. They do not see themselves as acting within the theater of communication of which law is an aspect. What Kerim and others are criticizing in Diamond's work strikes me as no more, or less,  than the social ineptitude more common to engineers or philosophers than to practicing lawyers.

Anthropologists study the skills of their subjects. They learn to appreciate the terminology and the terms of distinction peculiar to a given society. They become both intellectuals and connoisseurs.
A con man is a connoisseur; it's part of his job. A mathematician does not need these skills. But mathematicians are as fallible as the rest of us and I prefer the company of those who understand not only their capacity for error but for delusion. All wise men are connoisseurs
---
(as if to prove my point)
DeLong the philosopher:
General Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was an utter bastard: he shot five times as many of his own men for desertion during the Battle of Stalingrad as allied soldiers died on D-Day.

General Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was a very good general: we all should be very grateful for what his 62nd Army did during the Battle of Stalingrad.
The moral intelligence of a precocious ten year old, who supplements his allowance writng Cliffs Notes.

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