Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Curves and Lines

I have been meditating a lot recently on lines and curves, using the title (but not really the content) of a book, Isiah Berlin's 「The Crooked Timber of Humanity」 as a focus. Contrasting the logic-and-rationality "straight lines" absolutism of my early years with the complication-centric "bends and curves" relativism of my more recent years (which more or less overlaps my time at CMU). The timing of this is odd, as I tended to see the CMU people as being line-centric, emphasising a style of thought that for me was an abandoned obsession. Maybe it's helpful that I was still in an atmosphere that let me keep a form of that outside myself without losing it; it was easier for me to try to make a synthesis between my new instincts and something like my old self without keeping both entirely in my head. It may not have entirely helped that I saw (and still to some degree see) most of the providers of this atmosphere as somewhere between "college kids" and peers, but there was at least a handful of professors who did that too (Eckhardt being an example).

Philosophy is a perspective that comes from an awakening, deepened by time to think over many years. It's sometimes hard to know how to treat other people who are tiptoeing into the field. In my opinion, knowing the facts about historical philosophy is not actually that important (the potential depth is staggeringly deep given how many fields and perspectives and writers there are) and easily comes from a good philosophy circle. I think the right attitude and learning the practice of talking philosophy is more important; everything else varies depending on the interests and style of thinker. That said, I am inclined to take people a lot more philosophically seriously once they're no longer an undergrad, and the more they've read or experienced of the world and variety in how people put it together (reading a lot of history and philosophy), the less likely they'd be to be excessively focused on a few issues/values/conclusions or to have a "conquest" mentality.

What's next after straight lines and curves? Probably no new basic shapes; I suspect the metaphor will break down for what comes next. Perhaps it's a personal dialectic.

On that topic, I think I am somewhere between Sophism and Socratism in how I see discourse; aesthetic arguments are the only arguments possible for philosophical foundations, but arguments on top of that generally are judged both in terms of arete and soundness. Perhaps their synthesis (structured or blended) will be my task.

I recognise that perhaps someday I will instead tire of philosophy, either for reasons intrinsic to it, or because I will lose the mental/emotional strength for it. Right now it seems unlikely, but life is sometimes surprising. I have a tough time imagining myself without it though (even if sometimes I yearn for a rest from it, I don't know how to manage that except through either drink or extreme tiredness, neither of which is sustainable).

Tags: philosophy

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