Future, Present, & Past:

~~ 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.

Oυδεὶς άμουσος εἰσίτω

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Wonder does not subside."

I regularly check over at Daan Verhoeven's blog for translations of his father's work, often illustrated with Daan's own gorgeous photography. Cornelis Verhoeven was a Dutch philosopher whose one book which has been Englished, The Philosophy of Wonder, was very important to me when I first began doing philosophy in earnest; I keep coming back to it.

There is something about the figure of Verhoeven that gives me hope. His quiet dignity, his wryly amused humility, his sense of scale. He is not cowed, either by the "towering figures" of the philosophical tradition, nor by the intractability of the tradition's questions. So far as I can tell, he never bought into dour prophecies about the death of philosophy, though there is a quiet tone of resignation that runs through his work I have read--a modulation of his meditations upon Seneca, perhaps--a gentle demurral from take things too seriously, combined with the acknowledgment of real pain and a deep gratitude for every, always-passing, beauty. He knew that these realities were too quick, too vivid, too overwhelming, to be articulated, but he did not think this absolved him from the need to speak:
Our phrases are always more clear than our living thoughts, and our incurable wonder does not subside through calculations of probability and sharp logic.
This is a kind of phenomenology of philosophy itself, keenly aware of the limitations of its own project in the face of infinity, yet unapologetically taking "one more step," as Badiou was to famously urge; and then another, and another.

Cornelis Verhoeven died ten years ago today. His son Daan has put up a new blog where he intends to put his translations. May they continue.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you sir,

    That was very nice and encouraging to read. I'll keep at it.