Saturday, July 24, 2010

The First Step in Philosophy

The first step in philosophy is not a step; the first step in philosophy is to open your eyes. Not until he has looked round him, and with more than a little astonishment, in the actual world, not until he has in some measure become ‘a spectator of all time and all existence’, has any man a standing in the realm of thought. The majority of us are rustics, whose daily perambulations round the village pump mark the limits of our travel. ‘The winds of the world’, in Walter Page’s phrase, ‘have not ventilated our brains.’ I do not except the learned doctors,

profoundly skilled in analytic,
Who can distinguish and divide
A hair ‘twixt south and south-west side—

who know, it may be, the language of the brain but not of the soul, who know what algebra is but not adversity, comfort, but not dismay, sobriety, but not savagery, what respectability is, but not fury, madness, despair, who are strangers to nature and the passions in the raw, in their wide, untamed expanses. There is another way of thinking than theirs, more fundamental than logic, and another language than it speaks, God’s thinking and God’s logic, the universal, invincible, terrible logic and language of facts.

W. M. Dixon, The Human Situation, Lexture XI. (Dixon was a last-minute Gifford lecturer; he stepped in when Emile Meyerson died before giving his course of lectures. Meyerson's a name you don't hear much these days, but he was an extraordinarily well-respected chemist and philosopher of science in his day.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.