Philosophizing as if it were literature class just brings me to tears.
It's the tortoise and the hare, analysis versus recontextualization. Both sides obsess over language, but with a different focus.
I'd rather discover truth than ponder over what some dead, old man wrote in a book. I'm much more interested in content rather than interpretation and literary qualities. Philosophizing as if it were literature class just brings me to tears.
There is now, on this forum, an opportunity to witness, in action, a stark contrast between philosophy as investigation, and philosophy as interpretation. See the threads on the definition of reality, and on knowing that one knows, on the one hand, and the discussion of the groups on Nietzsche on the other hand. And notice too how the discussants of each tend to keep apart. It is quite fascinating. It is as if philosophy was two different subjects.
Neither group seems to take the slightest interest in the other group.
It is as if philosophy was two different subjects.
There are many divergent schools, trends, and traditions in philosophy. But almost anyone in any of the traditional schools have more in common with each other, than any of them do with 20th Century philosophy and scientific materialism.
And if "all the spiritual philosophies" declare there are higher, more refined states of awareness, again, that is no reason to think that there are such things, or that there is something these "awarenesses" are aware of. People on drugs also declare that they are "aware" of higher states of existence. But there is no reason to think this is true. Indeed, the fact that such people are drugged is a good reason to think it is not true. Just as the fact that the pink elephants that drunks declare they see probably do not exist since they are "seen" by drunks.
ndeed, Descartes' mission was to reject his tradition.
Now, if we are to glance at the philosophy of sanity, the first thing to do in the matter is to blot out one big and common mistake. There is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination, is dangerous to man's mental balance. Poets are commonly spoken of as psychologically unreliable; and generally there is a vague association between wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it. Facts and history utterly contradict this view. Most of the very great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. Artistic paternity is as wholesome as physical paternity. Moreover, it is worthy of remark that when a poet really was morbid it was commonly because he had some weak spot of rationality on his brain.
I am not interested in linguistic analysis.
But Descartes was a Catholic. In those days, being Catholic meant going to mass on Sundays and reciting the Nicene Creed. It formed a great deal of the background of his attitude. It was pre-suppositional to all of his philosophy and outlook on life. In fact I don't think that his philosophy makes much sense outside his devotional tradition.
What has happened in the modern world is that such devotional or spiritual attitudes have been, if not rejected, at least 'internalised' or 'privatised'. They are 'matters of individual conscience'. But this has meant that the public domain is now explicitly devoid of reference to anything sacred. This is the basis of secular normality. I really wonder - and in fact I doubt - that Western philosophy retains a lot of meaning once it has removed itself from its spiritual foundations. It doesn't mean, for me, becoming a Catholic, but it has meant getting to a place where I understand why people are Catholic. This is why I am basically always on about the spiritual aspects of philosophy, such as they are.
So I am criticizing the current conventions, as Descartes was. I don't think many realise how very different the modern Western outlook has actually become from its cultural roots. Of course, it is not strange to its inhabitants. It is just 'normal'. So normality is actually pretty strange. Of course this is a very discomforting and uncomfortable thing to say.
---------- Post added 02-10-2010 at 02:42 PM ----------
anyway I think I will stop now. I have said before, my interests really lie outside philosophy. I do have some philosophical interests but I will acknowledge that what motivates me is spiritual not philosophical, and these are different. I shall try and pick my subjects accordingly in future.
Part of the Buddhist training is that 'wanting to be right' is a hindrance. Wanting to help others is far more valuable.
Buddhist training is also about wanting to learn so I say make comments on whatever threads you want. That's what I do and ain't nobody gonna stop me. It is frustrating when I write something I put a lot of thought into and then someone (I won't mention any names) just replies with a question: "What does X mean?" and provides no answer of their own, but everyone has their own style and such questions sometimes lead to deeper understanding and better articulation.
Style is an interesting word. Investigation and interpretation could be understood as two different styles.
How can anyone provide "an answer of his own" to the question, "what does 'X' mean" if he asks that question because he doesn't know what "X" means? If he knew what it meant, he would not ask the question in the first place.
If they were only two different styles, they would not matter so much. But they matter quite a lot. To the extent that they seem to be doing entirely different things.
It might have been noticed that I took my lead last year from a certain moment of the subject that I consider to be an essential correlate of science, a historically defined moment, the strict repeatability in experience of which perhaps remains to be determined: the moment Descartes inaugurates that goes by the name of cogito.
This correlate, as a moment, is the defile of a rejection of all knowledge, but is nevertheless claimed to establish for the subject a certain anchoring in being; I sustain that this anchoring constitutes the definition of the subject of science, "definition" to be understood in the sense of a narrow doorway.
This lead did not guide me in vain, for it led me at year end to formulate our experienced division as subjects as a division between knowledge and truth, and to accompany it with a topological model, the Mobius strip; this strip conveys the fact that the division in which these two terms come together is not to be derived from a difference in origin. - Lacan "Science and Truth"
I usually don't invent words but use words that everyone knows. If the way I use a word doesn't make sense then tell me how you use that word. There are many areas where my vocabulary could use improvement including the more specialized definitions of words that philosophers use. Once I know your definition of X I am willing reply accordingly; sometimes this means changing my own definition to yours and perhaps changing X to Y in my original statement.
In reply, here's a bit of Lacan that I am still working on interpreting/investigating. I have really only begun to look at Lacan so I'm a little worried that it may be less relevant to the OP than I think it is (emphasis mine):
When Lacan refers to truth and knowledge is he in some sense referring to the two respective objects/goals of interpretation and investigation? Is he saying that the division in which these two techniques come together is not to be derived from a difference in origin?
truth v. knowledge. I'm not sure which would go with which and I think there will be a great deal of argument over who (investigators or interpreters) can lay claim to either of them. However, I think I've seen a similar division mentioned in one of the investigator threads between information and knowledge.
Information / interpreters: Interpreters interpret information
Knowledge / investigators: Investigators investigate knowledge
Or maybe investigators interpret information and interpreters investigate knowledge.
Or maybe investigators interpret knowledge and interpreters investigate information.
I think that information and knowledge may have a Mobius strip relationship that is very similar to the one that Lacan spoke of.
I must admit that I am a little over my head here but I do think that these thoughts are relevant to the OP. It's hard work making a bridge out of a wall.
In psychology the talk about assimilation (taking in new information) and accommodation (resolving conflicts, making new information fit, working things out). Those seem to correspond to interpretation and investigation.
I agree that arguing what someone really said etc is not important. Getting new ideas is important, that's the value of reading the old works. Then you can get down to the real business.