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Showing posts from October 22, 2023

The credulous Mr. Locke - Shaftesbury and underground philosophy

Anthony, the third Earl of Shaftesbury (1670-1713) was born into a title that had been given to his grandfather, the first earl, who was the giant of the family. The First Earl was one of the grandees who designed the proto-whig culture that opposed James II, and brought about his downfall. He was the patron of John Locke, whom he first employed as a physician, then encouraged as a patron, used as a pamphleteer, made the entremetteur for his son, Anthony, the second earl (who married the woman Locke found for him) and finally employed to tutor his grandchildren. By chance (although it is a chance that one is not surprised at in class bound Britain) two of the English philosophers, Shaftesbury and Mill, could claim to be entirely educated by the reigning English philosopher that preceded them – respectively, Locke and Bentham.   The third earl Shaftesbury dutifully followed in his grandfather’s footsteps – his father seems to have been an entirely ineffectual man – in promoting the

The function of "then"

  "Then” is the shape of time, or at least of time for birds, beasts, and bacteria, and for all the other monuments of DNA as well. In the world of nuclear particles, ‘then’ is a wicket through which one can pass one way and then another and both simultaneously, or so the equations tell us. “Then” is also, by a heavy coincidence, a logical function. Here it does not give us a temporal, but a seemingly atemporal sequence. Such is the magic of words, however, that we are always tempted to take the atemporal world of the variables of logic and confound it with the temporal world in which we find ourselves. We are always tempted to see logic in history, to see the temporal as the pattern of the temporal. Yet is logic so blind to temporality? Do we require some second order of reasoning to reconcile the one to the other? That is, perhaps, the task that falls to dialectic. It is a shady task – Kant for instance placed dialectic in the slum of philosophy, where the hucksters, grifters an

My body, my unconscious

  The old myth of the man who becomes another man or woman, who is translocated into some alien skin, muscle and sensory apparatus, is familiar to us all. My feeling is that I am that man – that this is an accurate account of growing up. Try as I may, I can remember many things about my childhood, but not my stature, not what it felt like to be, say, four feet high. My carriage, my vehicle, was beyond me. I look at the world from my present height and can imagine no other way of looking at the world – yet I know I was not always like this. This lack of a certain external visual sense of myself imposes itself on other bits of my quotidien. I look at myself in the mirror, I take selfies, but my self never seems completely wedded to my reflection, my selfie. In dreams, as they are reconstructed in movies, the dreamers see themselves: but this has never happened to me. I am, in dreams, deeply in myself. The camera never moves out, never moves around. Roger hiding in a closet while burg