Saturday, March 05, 2011

note taking posted elsewhere
My comment was directed of course to Eric Schliesser. I'm aware of your professional interests. But since Antonin Scalia, who is required to be a historian of law, is known for stating that "the Constitution as I interpret it is a dead constitution" thereby collapsing the past into the present [and isn't that the definition of anti-historical argument?] I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to make the same observation about you; though you argue from the standpoint of the scientist rather than of someone raised on the political culture of reactionary Catholicism. And as I've mentioned before here I think, it's Panofsky, one of the last great figures of the German "tradition of art historical and literary historical criticism", who reminds us that the unification of the humanities and sciences was a hallmark of the Middle Ages, that their separation was central to the birth of the Renaissance, and that the contemporary urge for reunification (that you describe approvingly) is fundamentally reactionary: "If the anthropocratic civilization of the Renaissance is headed, as it seems to be, for a 'Middle Ages in reverse'..." Scalia's mistakes are yours, and they are serious. The differences between the two arguments are secondary. The relations your observe or create between people and ideas are a source of great pleasure for you. That pleasure is not a function of the people or ideas but of your relationship to them. You find certain things "meaningful". Meaningfulness is extrinsic to objects. As you collapse the past and present, you collapse objects and desires.

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