Saturday, February 23, 2008

I can understand arguments about Cuba. I can’t even comprehend any more the arguments by people who refuse to understand the ad hoc nature of politics and life in the world, who argue against context and for rules over responsibilities as if there were never a tension between them. Without that tension there are no responsibilities at all.

The last sentence is the root of the critique of morality as rule following rather than understanding. Most observant people recognize this as where the arts find their purpose, in fictional rule breaking and rearrangement. In religion (foundational fiction) the original order is reinforced, in secular literature often undermined. But Anglo-American philosophers deride both the arts and religion by attacking their supposed truth as falsity and ignoring their function. And since art is never "true" it's a double absurdity. Art as "truth" is irrationalism. Its truth is in description and documentation.
This [review of Nietzsche and Morality, ed. Leiter] sort of attempt to "understand" Nietzsche makes as much sense as attempts to "understand" Shakespeare, which is to say slightly more sense than trying to "understand" Homer or the Bible. The discursive mode has its privileges, but philosophy is still a form of literature.

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