Tuesday, March 10, 2015

High formalism, as high moralism, high absurdity, or both. High Modernism as farce: the definition of Mannerism.
Years ago, I heard about a sign pinned to an office door in Princeton, New Jersey. The office door was Gilbert Harman’s, and I was told the sign read, ‘Just say no to the history of philosophy’. 
[Harman] ...I believe my views about the history of philosophy are mostly orthodox nowadays. The history of philosophy is not easy. It is very important to consider the historical context of a text and not just try to read it all by itself. One should be careful not to read one’s own views (or other recent views) into a historical text. It is unwise to treat historical texts as sacred documents that contain important wisdom. In particular, it is important to avoid what Walter Kaufmann calls ‘exegetical thinking’: reading one’s views into a sacred text so one can read them back out endowed with authority. For the most part the problems that historical writers were concerned with are different from the problems that current philosophers face. There are no perennial philosophical problems.

...For reasons I do not fully understand, I have sometimes upset people by distinguishing between philosophy and the history of philosophy or by noting that philosophy is what the history of philosophy is the history of.

I also think as an empirical matter that students of philosophy need not be required to study the history of philosophy and that a study of the history of philosophy tends not to be useful to students of philosophy. (Note ‘tends’.) Similarly, it is not particularly helpful to students of physics, chemistry, or biology to study the history of physics, chemistry, or biology.

...That is not to say that I have anything against the study of the history of philosophy. I do not discourage students or others from studying the history of philosophy. I am myself quite interested in the history of moral philosophy for example and have occasionally taught graduate seminars in Kant. I have done a certain amount of work on Adam Smith’s relation to Hume and others.
"In particular, it is important to avoid what Walter Kaufmann calls ‘exegetical thinking’"
[Walter Kaufmann]

"There are no perennial philosophical problems."

"a study of the history of philosophy tends not to be useful to students of philosophy. (Note ‘tends’.) Similarly, it is not particularly helpful to students of physics, chemistry, or biology to study the history of physics, chemistry, or biology."

Scalia: The Constitution is "dead, dead, dead"

Soames: I outline a theory of legal interpretation I call “Deferentialism”, which can be taken to be a version of originalism, though I hope it is an improved version.

Dennett: "...Some philosophical research projects -or problematics, to speak with the more literary types- are rather like working out the truths of chess."

According to Dennett the only difference between chess and chmess is that chess has a history. Chmess is to chess as a cult is to a religion; old whores, like old buildings gain respectability, which explains the failure of Esperanto to win out over French: a lack of richness or depth of reference, or more simply "depth".

Timothy Williamson: "Impatience with the long haul of technical reflection is a form of shallowness, often thinly disguised by histrionic advocacy of depth."

When I read Dennett the references to Austin just slipped by.

Oh, why not?...
The release or deliverance achieved by the Baroque period can be observed in every field of human endeavor. The Florentine intermedios of the manneristic theater (similar to the English masks) abounded in such complicated allegories as seen in the Intermedio of 1585 and 1589 where the conclusion of Plato’s Republic appeared on the stage, including the Planets, the Harmony of the Spheres, the Three Goddesses of Fate, and even Necessity, holding the adamantine axis of the Universe (fig. 40). We happen to possess the diary of a nobleman who saw this play and stated that it was very beautiful but nobody could understand what it was all about. A few years later those allegories were replaced by the modern opera, full of natural emotions and tuneful melodies (Rinuccini’s Daphne, 1594; Monteverdi’s Orpheus, a bit later). The very style of writing had assumed a specific manneristic character all over the continent (Gongorism in Spain, Euphuism in England: Lyle, Greene and Donne). This too was overcome by Cervantes and Shakespeare. A beautiful instance is Shakespeare's Winter’s Tale (1610-11) deliberately ridiculing the euphuistic prose of the courtiers, and opposing to it the emotional and even versified, but beautifully natural, profoundly human speech of the main characters.
History is bunk.

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