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Showing posts from July 8, 2012

metaphysics of paper 3

Viele Werke der Alten sind Fragmente geworden. Viele Werke der Neuern sind es gleich bei der Entstehung. - Schlegel There’s a story in Strabo that runs like this: “Neleus succeeded to the possession of the library of Theophrastus, which included that of Aristotle; for Aristotle gave his library, and left his school, [379] to Theophrastus. Aristotle was the first person with whom we are acquainted who made a collection of books, and suggested to the kings of Egypt the formation of a library. Theophrastus left his library to Neleus, who carried it to Scepsis, and bequeathed it to some ignorant persons who kept the books locked up, lying in disorder. When the Scepsians understood that the Attalic kings, on whom the city was dependent, were in eager search for books, with which they intended to furnish the library at Pergamus, they hid theirs in an excavation under-ground; at length, but not before they had been injured by damp and worms, the descendants of Neleus sold the books of

On the hedgehog

In a famous essay, the Fox and the Hedgehog, Isaiah Berlin creates a taxonomy of thinkers based on a line from Archilochus:   ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’ The thinkers who know one thing are, in Berlin’s view, systematic thinkers. All thought tends to the center, among them, the one big thing that explains the world. The Foxes are anti-systematic. They are essayists, explorers of the intersections of thought and experience, from the scope of which they take it no principle can absorb experience without something stubborn and unabsorbed remaining from that experience – what Thomas Nagel calls the quality of “what it is to be like”… Now evidently, Berlin is using the hedgehog image as a way into talking about the mindset of certain writers, and in particular, of Tolstoy. Tolstoy has to an extreme degree the fox’s virtue, which is to understand the difference made by experience, by what it is to be like – and he has to an extreme degree the he