24-01-09

Emotion

"The way in which a person discovers his own long-term motives is the same as the way in which he discovers those of others. The quantity and quality of the information accessible to him differ in the two inquiries, but its items are in general of the same sort." G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind, Penguin Books, 2000, p. 88.


'Ha-ha, just what I discovered all on my own!' I find this regularly &, although it may well be a trick played by my brain confusing short term recognitions with a long term privately held memory, I'm sure (in this case as in others) that I did discover this on my own. One of the reasons in support of this specific belief of mine would be that I wrote a dissertation featuring this thought (alongside others) well before I ever read this book or heard this quote. To be more precise and skip the 'believing'-bit: I can assure you that this is a fact as I can assure you I had a discussion with a professor that, on hearing this thought expressed by me (quite less perfectly than above), did answer, rather dismayed, that 'I had to be one of the last Mohicans of sophisticated behaviourism'.  His answer (better: the tone of voice & facial expression with which it was expressed) stopped me in my tracks. He gave lectures on 'Philosophy of Mind' - if I ever re-read this I will have to go trhough my notes to add precision - but Ryle if mentioned was only mentioned cursorily.

So why do I all of a sudden get all autobiographical on you? The truth of course is: I don't know: the set-up of these writings is not one that starts from premeditating on what I want to think in the context of a particular quote. It may therefore be best for me as well as for you not to read too much into it with respect to my personality & to read a great deal more into it regarding the personality of the thought. Let me help: insofar as it is crucial - to me or to you (& at least to me it is) - that I discovered the above on my own, the only reliable evidence for it is evidence that's available to the both of us. Now, it may well be that no-one ever reads this (not even myself at later points of time given I do not seem to have a propensity to reread anything, whether from my own hand or that of another) but this oddly enough isn't crucial even if it is featuring inside the clause that establishes something purportedly crucial -available is enough; 'actually inspected' is superfluous however much this is at odds with what is commonly held to be the case in an era where inspection is everything (and where expression is consequently almost nothing).

But I stray from the plan that I 'think I' had in my head last night before sleep took over (allowing me now to type this being rather refreshed). The plan, as I remember reciting it to myself, struggling against my sleepiness, was to reflect on: whether it is of any consequence whatever that I discovered such-and-such on my own. Whether, to be more honest, the emotion ('thrill' is the word, I believe) I registered in reading the above was anything more than one of those human reflexes that keep up one's self-esteem in order to remain functional in absence of external praise.

Fortunately enough for the structure of this piece of writing, there are 2 sides to this that need to be considered.

No doubt I could boast about my originality uncritically in absence of a live (or other audience) criticizing my boasting. But that won't do because - even if left to my own devices - I am not uncritical of myself. The values of criticism have been established in me quite regardless of the present momentary absence of external watchers-on & they are a defining characteristic of what it is to be me (if that is anything at all - but that's best left for another contribution). Thusly the boasting starts to be silenced as it has to be conceded that - whatever the extent of my previous & direct exposure to Ryle - his thing was 'out there' before my thought was 'in here'. Even more prudence gets in the way of my little thrill knowing that I read quite some Wittgenstein as well as Dennett even before starting to even think of my dissertation. I can try to dig an earlier trench because obviously I started thinking of these things long before I had even the remotest idea of ever writing a dissertation but this will do little good as far as saving my little warm fuzzy feeling; behaviourism is one of my 1st private hypes, not long after the religious phase that Kierkegaard had to cure me of - indoctrinated as many of us are by the modern soft appearance of this age-old form of fascism.

That's that it seems: the unbearable lightness of originality & authenticity. But here is the second side in need of consideration: whatever the antecedents, I did have it as a thought (and certainly nobody ordained that this was the only thought that was to be had, in fact Chomsky and Fodor have made the opposite thought rather more of the measure - at least with the scientistically-minded individuals that are at least on the thinking-front doing a tad better numerically). In fact, the fact that there are antecedents does not discredit my merit at all but rather enhances it as long as it is not my interest to 'claim' the thought but to do something with it. I think I quoted a bit of Carnap elsewhere here on the vritue of building on rather than revolutionizing thought (and, after all, the tale of the tower of Bable doesn't show it's impossible to build high towers but only that it's impossible to continue to build together when we have become unable to speak with each other).

Not only do I want to do something with it but I have done something with it & more still: I am doing something with it (to wit: this). That fact doesn't establish that what I did and do has any merit but it does establish that my emotion wasn't uncalled for and that I should not be ashamed to boast about it. It may not be very good to do what I do with it but it is certainly good enough if people do the things I try to do. It is not the success of the individual that is a measure of progress but an individual's inspiration of other individuals to grasp, redistribute or build on former successes (I fear that last thought is still half-baked - the correct balance between individual and social is the challenge that keeps me going in this since I first started thinking on it all - it is not met, I am just in the phase where I need to shed some toxic attributes of individualism).


Whilst writing this I was listening to 'handel arias', Danielle de Niese, Decca.

14:09 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: language, self, learning, tones, ryle |  Facebook |

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