Sunday, April 13, 2014

On Excessively General Questions (further generalized)

In our essay, “On What There Is”,  we confessed ourselves unequal to the task of addressing the question of Being, bare.   Compare further:

You asked me the use of criticism.  You might just as well have asked me  the use of thought.
-- Oscar Wilde, “The Critic as Artist” (1891)

Bizarrely, though the question was meant satirically, that very phrase occurs as a chapter-title in a book written by the philosopher and historian Ernest Gellner  in all seriousness:  “The Uses of Thought”.
The succeeding chapter-titles are equally grandiose:  “The Uses of Doubt”, and “The Stuff of Change”.  This occur in his volume from 1964, the even grander Thought and Change.  Yet this is odd, since Gellner’s general thrust  is deflationary.

Cf. also the classic Heideggerian title, Was heisst denken?, to which we have often had occasion to allude.

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