Future, Present, & Past:
Speculative~~ Giving itself latitude and leisure to take any premise or inquiry to its furthest associative conclusion.
Critical~~ Ready to apply, to itself and its object, the canons of reason, evidence, style, and ethics, up to their limits.
Traditional~~ At home and at large in the ecosystem of practice and memory that radically nourishes the whole person.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Chromatic scale: thirteen theses and a comma
A fellow-blogger asks me for a presentation on "what I really think" (though not in those words). Am I being coy? Or obscure? Probably.
Here is a short inventory of my philosophical values, in the form of thirteen theses. On the surface some of them read like newage platitudes and some of them like wannabe Adorno. Will I go to the wall for every one? Sure... "appropriately interpreted." This means I reserve the right to qualify by commentary and caveat, or to swathe myself in gnomic silence as I choose.
[Addendum: I have re-arranged them to better structure the scale, and added the 'pythagorean comma.']
I. Practice over theory. But: Theory is a practice.
II. There are infinite openings between the banal and the extraordinary, between the prosaic and the sublime. Any moment, any question, opens onto all others; but each moment is irreducibly itself. (The continuum hypothesis.)
III. Dialogue over monologue. But: in dialogue, one finds one's voice, and more than one.
IV. To call the Spiritual either a mistake or a sublimation is a sublime mistake.
V. Questions over answers. But: to genuinely ask is to believe in the possibility of an answer.
VI. Every experience is either a turning towards Love, or away. Every encounter involves the risk of conversion or apostasy.
VII. If you have never felt the undertow of pure nihilism, you do not know what [you think] you're not missing.
VIII. There is no Science of Persons. There is Thou, but there is no Thou-ness.
IX. We make our way "from world to world" insofar as we learn to relate, to attend, to be interested, to like, to care; for every thing is a world, and the way between is The World.
X. To be alive is to be engaged with everything and attached to nothing. "Touch more; hold on less."
XI. One cannot prescribe the way to do this. Every spiritual technique works in part by not working.
XII. "Why is there anything?" --"We do not know. But it is good that there is." Philosophy can get this far (and this is very far).
XIII. Experience goes further.
(comma). Irony is a good spice, and a bad main course.