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Showing posts from June 19, 2016

against the imagination

Vico, in the early 18 th century, warned against the too extensive use of the “geometric” method in philosophy and the expulsion of rhetoric from the corpus. Twentieth century analytic philosophy is a viconian nightmare, but Vico’s worry that rhetoric would be expelled from the corpus was overblown. Instead, poetry returned under the aegis of a curious argument from imagination. Philosophical subcultures have formed around the consequences of imagining such things as zombies, or arguing about personal identity based on the tale of transposed selves going back to Locke (or, in reality, to Apuleius). The argument goes that the self is separable from the body of the self because we can imagine a dairymaid, say, transposed into the body of a king. Many subtle arguments have been  woven around such imaginary instances. Myself, I like to imagine fantastic scenarios too. But the thing about most of them is that they never happen. In other words, the imaginative method is best for touching