Featured Post


This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Thursday, October 30, 2008


As long as I'm reading Murdoch, I may as well quote her slam against what I've called the naive positivists:

"Of course there are neutral scientific or scholarly or legal disciplines and procedures and states of mind, and these, often to be thought of as ideal limits, are essential and without them we would indeed 'perish and go to ruin.' But they represent one aspect only of the idea of truth, and occupy a smaller area than is sometimes suggested by those who conjure up a vast world of facts in contrast to a small specialised activity of evaluating."

I will say that I disagree on some of her insights on "truth:"

"It seems to me that one cannot 'philosophize' adequately upon the subject [of ethics] unless one takes it as fundamental that consciousness is a form of moral activity: what we attend to, how we attend, whether we attend."

For me the moral nature of consciousness (which roughly parallels the nature of the "ethical criticism" I discussed in MERIT RAISED) is not the whole picture, any more than is the aesthetic sense that underlies "aesthetic criticism." Both of these aspects of consciousness, the moral and the aesthetic, are secondary responses to the power of personal mythopoesis, of the mythic identities that human beings choose to project. Such identities are not just facile comparisons to archaic myth-figures (as Murdoch assumes in her pooh-poohing polemic against Jung), but modern myths as well. The man who thinks "I am a realist" is living no less a myth than the one who thinks "I am an idealist;" the two merely use different moral, aesthetic and philosophical justifications in order to articulate and communicate said identities. The moral certainly impacts upon those identities, but it's not a primary function. But to get at that primary thing would be beyond the scope of this short piece...

No comments: