23 March 2007
22 March 2007
We got a new iPod, an 80gb one. Having only filled maybe 50gb of it, we find ourselves already sitting in traffic blocking green lights looking for something to which to listen. This, we think, could be the phenomenon described by Arcade Fire's "No Cars Go." And, well, we blame them, too. We can never decided between Neon Bible and Funeral. Thesis after the jump.
[The metaphorical jump.]
It could be objected that Moore seems to be trustworthy regarding the knowledge of his hands. As a respected academician, no one would think he would write outright lies. And isn’t the knowledge of one’s hands precisely the kind of knowledge about which it would be impossible to be mistaken? Moore’s utter certainty that he has two hands, coupled with the fact that people just don’t make mistakes about such things, seems to justify our trust in his knowledge. We simply agree with Moore that he does have two hands. Such a thing could go without saying. This apparent certainty, though, is the interstice in which Moore’s metaphysical presupposition finds purchase. And it is precisely for playing on this sense of certainty that Wittgenstein will criticize Moore. Moore’s utterance, “I know I have two hands,” is nonsense precisely because it expresses something that we would never doubt. And, paradoxically, it’s for this very reason that Moore cannot say he knows that he has two hands. In asserting why Moore can’t say that he knows he has two hands, Wittgenstein will re-characterize knowledge in a fairly radical way.
Moore’s Common Sense View
We said earlier that Moore’s notion of knowledge is something like justified true belief, but that his justification for knowing some things does not entail his being able to say he knows some things. Moore’s criterion of justification seemed to be that he was “quite certain” of something. Moore is quite certain that he has two hands, and it’s impossible that he merely believes such to be true; it isn’t merely highly probable. Therefore, Moore “knows” he has two hands. But to say so is a misuse of “I know…” that seems to reveal a “queer and extremely important mental state.”[i] When Moore says above, “I know I have two hands,” there seems to be at work in his mind a specific faculty, which secures his knowledge and is conditioned by his utter certainty: the indubitable (self) assurance of a wrinkled brow, a semi-articulated force of expression. We’ve said above that Wittgenstein explicitly denies the importance of mental states in evaluating the knowledge claims of one’s interlocutors. The mental state that accompanies one’s certainty is something of a ghost whose insubstantiality Wittgenstein points out throughout his work. The certainty that one feels is of little importance for our purposes: such a feeling indicates a merely subjective certainty. This subjective certainty falls short of what Wittgenstein leads us toward. We want to say that “perfect certainty is only a matter of [one’s] attitude,” which attitude fails to be philosophically interesting if our investigation is for an objective indication of certainty.[ii] To speak about knowledge and certainty with regard to mental states is a circumlocution around the logical crux of the matter, the source of objectivity in a sense.
However, presuppositions concerning mental states corresponding to knowledge and certainty underlie much of the philosophic discourse. Moore describes the symptoms of such mental states in his essay, “A Defence of Common Sense.” In the essay he describes knowing propositions like “I have two hands.” He says,
I think I have nothing better to say than that it seems to me that I do know them, with certainty. It is, indeed, obvious that, in the case of most of them, I do not know them directly: that is to say, I only know them because, in the past, I have known to be true other propositions which were evidence for them. If, for instance, I do know that the earth had existed for many years before I was born, I certainly only know this because I have known other things in the past which were evidence for it. And I certainly do not know exactly what the evidence was. Yet all this seems to me to be no good reason for doubting that I do know it. We are all, I think, in this strange position that we do know many things, with regard to which we know further that we must have had evidence for them, and yet we do not know how we know them, i.e., we do not know what the evidence was.[iii]
Moore calls this queer phenomenon “the Common Sense view of the world.”[iv] His perplexity at how we know certain things arises from trying to connect the feeling of certainty, a mental state, to some sort of outward criteria that would count as a substantiation or explanation for his mental state. Moore cites a paucity of evidence for his perplexity at the phenomenon. Rather than direct evidence for his certainty, he constructs a deductive chain that counts as pseudo-evidence. Moore knows the earth existed for many years before he was born because he knows, for example, that he was born of two parents who must have lived on the earth; and he knows he was born from two parents because of the entire circumstances of his life, but he lacks direct evidence of his birth and parentage. He could trace back this certainty to other certainties, but he couldn’t say how he knows them because he lacks direct evidence. The mental state of knowing seems to be unsubstantiated. But rather, this mental state itself is the unsubstantial “thing,” the unnecessary and unimportant piece of our picture of knowledge.
Moore is right in linking evidence with knowledge. After all, that one knows something can be shown, and this showing counts as evidence. But what of the propositions that fall under the purview of the Common Sense View? It is unreasonable to doubt the existence of the earth long before our birth because then we would have to doubt “all sorts of things that stand fast” for us.[v] That is, we would have to doubt the many branches of the deductive chain that seem solid. For instance, it stands fast for us that all humans come from two human parents who must certainly have lived on the earth. This proposition seems to be grounded on experience and scientific testimony. Moore’s point appears to be twofold: 1) Experience and scientific testimony lack an evidential ground; and thus, how can we know such a thing as the earth has existed long before our birth? 2) Nonetheless, “all this seems to be no good ground for doubting that I do know” that the earth has existed long before my birth. Wittgenstein’s response to this aporia is that we do not know (in Moore’s sense of knowing as justified true belief) that the earth has existed long before our birth. How could we show that this proposition is the case—justify it? We would go through a brief chain of reasoning as above. But this chain of reasoning isn’t a proof. A proof tries to demonstrate the objective correctness of a proposition.
[i] On Certainty, §6.
[ii] On Certainty, §404.
[iii] Moore, “Defence,” 44.
[v] On Certainty, §234.
21 March 2007
The Flaws in Moore’s Argument
Moore’s proof is more robust than Wittgenstein sometimes characterizes it. It is compelling enough that Wittgenstein feels compelled to critique it; and Wittgenstein seems even to appropriate for his philosophy parts of Moore’s thought in the two essays. Moore’s conclusion is that there are things in existence, i.e., two human hands. And as premises, he holds up his two hands, saying, “Here is one hand,” and then, “here is another.”[i] This argument hinges on three things: 1) that the premises are different than the conclusion; 2) that the premises are known by Moore to be the case; and 3) that the conclusion follows from the premises.[ii] Wittgenstein critiques the second condition. Moore is completely certain that he has satisfied the second condition, which he makes obvious by saying,
How absurd it would be to suggest that I did not know it, but only believed it, and that perhaps it was not the case! You might as well suggest that I do not know that I am now standing up and talking—that perhaps after all I’m not, and that it’s not quite certain that I am![iii]
Moore thinks his knowledge here is completely incontestable and self-evident. This sense of certainty is important, and it will figure prominently in Wittgenstein’s notion of knowledge. But here it is important to see why Moore is wrong to say he knows he has two hands. We should not suggest, after all, that Moore does not know he is “standing up and talking,” but we would suggest that it is incorrect for Moore to say, “I am now standing up and talking.”
For Moore, knowledge of a something is constituted by its being the case; by one’s not “only [merely] believing” it to be the case; and by one’s being “quite certain” that it is the case. This notion of knowledge is what one would call justified true belief. Of course, the difficult criterion to satisfy with justified true belief is the criterion of justification. Moore thinks he is justified to know he has two hands because he is “quite certain” that he has two hands. And this seems correct to us. But just because Moore may be justified in knowing that he has two hands does not mean he is justified in saying he has two hands. The epistemological notion of knowing he has two hands has influenced his grammatical use of “I know…”
Wittgenstein begins On Certainty by saying, “If you do know that here is one hand, we’ll grant you all the rest.”[iv] He goes on in that section to say that from any proposition another may follow, but this entailment doesn’t make the proposition from which others are derived any more certain. That is, B may follow from A, but that doesn’t make A more certain. Further, if I say, “I know I have two hands,” it follows that I have two hands; but that Moore has two hands does not follow from his saying “I know I have two hands.”[v] Another person’s assertion that he knows doesn’t secure objectivity. However, there are two important caveats to the preceding remark. On the one hand, “I know…” does not always mean “I cannot be wrong about…” or “I am certain of…”[vi] A fact is not necessarily entailed by the utterance “I know…” Such a use would result in the most absurd solipsism; but philosophers often commit themselves to such a position. After his psychological reduction, Descartes perceives clearly and distinctly that he is a thinking thing; consequently, he knows that he is a thinking thing. His perceiving clearly and distinctly, i.e., knowing, that he is a thinking thing satisfies him that he is a thinking thing. Similarly, when Moore says, “I know I have two hands,” he makes it clear that he cannot be wrong, that he must in fact have two hands. In both cases, a certainty—a certain piece of knowledge—entails a fact. Wittgenstein denies that certainty can entail a fact. Philosophic uses of “I know…” “seem to describe a state of affairs which guarantees what is known, guarantees it as a fact,” but this guarantee ignores the phrase “I thought I knew.”[vii] Obviously—trivially, even—things are contrariwise. That is, we are left with facts; and to these facts knowledge or certainty need not correspond. The desire to talk about knowledge often confuses us about what it is that comprises knowledge.
On the other hand, when someone else says, “I know…” it doesn’t follow that he does know; but this is not to say that he doesn’t know it. Rather, that another person does know “takes some showing.”[viii] Showing that one knows is central to Wittgenstein’s notion of knowledge and objectivity. We often mistake the grammar of a proposition with a guarantee of the proposition’s being the case. A proposition of the form, “I know…” doesn’t automatically denote a state of affairs—it doesn’t secure objectivity or even necessarily give a piece of knowledge. When someone says, “I know…” the utterance is an indication of assurance; but such an assurance only means that he thinks he is not mistaken.[ix] Someone’s knowledge or certainty does not assure a fact. Rather, the fact—the real existence of a state of affairs—is the possibility of assurance. That is, when someone says he knows something, his interlocutor “must be able to imagine how one may know something of the kind.”[x] Reality and experience—life itself—govern this imagining. In this way Wittgenstein’s philosophy seems to echo Kant’s notion of transcendental idealism: a concept without experience is empty. Moreover, given that the fact is the case does not assure that one knows that fact. For someone to sensibly say to another person, “I know…” the other person must be satisfied with this knowledge. This satisfaction is part of Wittgenstein’s notion of knowledge. As we would like to show, Wittgenstein’s notion of knowledge depends heavily on an intersubjective type of agreement, which goes toward justifying another’s belief that his interlocutor (which is to emphasize Wittgenstein’s focus on utterances) actually knows something.
Someone might ask his neighbor on what day the city collects the garbage. If the neighbor says, “I know it gets collected on Wednesday,” he may be satisfied that the neighbor knows this and that it’s true. If the neighbor takes care of his home, seems concerned with its upkeep, and seems trustworthy, then a person would probably be satisfied. If, however, piles of rubbish lie next to the neighbor’s house and if he seems unconcerned with keeping up his home, then a person would probably be unsatisfied. He would think that his neighbor might not know when the garbage is collected. That is, the neighbor has failed to show that he knows when the garbage is collected. We don’t have to try to infer his mental state—whether it is one of knowing, believing, not knowing, etc.—we can see with our own eyes that he does not know. From his saying, “I know it gets collected on Wednesday,” someone wouldn’t necessarily (that is, have to) think that that’s when it does get collected; and in fact, we would think he does not know.
[i] Moore, “Proof,” 146.
[iii] Moore, “Proof,” 146-7.
[iv] On Certainty, §1.
[v] On Certainty, §13.
[vi] On Certainty, §8.
[vii] On Certainty, §12.
[viii] On Certainty, §14.
[ix] On Certainty, §15.
[x] On Certainty, §18.
19 March 2007
What's up with posters posting non-missed connections matters in the missed connections section of craigslist? Case in point:
Thanks for dumping on me - m4w - 40
Date: 2007-03-18, 7:12PM
Thanks for using me for the last 5 years as your alternate fall back to get a man..Well you can't do it anymore now you got pregnant with someone else...and you will have to dump your shit on sombody else from now on.....what you did was cruel and hatefull and vindictve and I'm sure right now and would never have thought of it before this that you are laughing to yourself..especially now that you gave me the news in such a cold and distant manner...I was there for you in your time of real need..and now you shit on the person who stood next to you at that time....so go ahead and laugh..but all you did to me, someone who just brought you love was to hurt for your own selfish reasons..
Right. Our only comment will be a quotation from the above matter: "Location: Earth."
16 March 2007
C.f., Thesis On Certainty, Part 3, which has links back to Part 2 and the beginning. In this section we enounter Wittgenstein's quite funny description of the madman-philosopher; and we finish our initial exposition of what we call Moore's metaphysical presupposition, which really is just a rehash of Husserl's criticisms of philosophy in the Crisis, and Derrida's criticism of Husserl in La Voix et le Phénomène. Those two heavily influenced this piece, and Derrida seems particularly to have been influenced by Wittgenstein. We wonder if Derrida wrote ever about Wittgenstein?
[The Metaphorical Jump.]
And of course this is put poorly, since it would seem as if Wittgenstein were trying to connect language to a mental state of knowledge or a mental state of certainty: but this connection can hardly be said to exist—and even the mental state, if there is such a thing, is unimportant. Put one way, to think that to knowledge and certainty there exists a corresponding mental state would be to think “that different people had to correspond to the word ‘I’ and the name ‘Ludwig,’ because the concepts are different.”[i] Even though Wittgenstein’s notions of knowledge and belief are (to some extent) discrete, it would fail to be fruitful to try to prescribe to one and the other discrete mental states, since the differences between the two are not given by the words themselves. And this is to get back to our point above. There is not one transcendental meaning—or a state that corresponds to a transcendental meaning—which by itself secures certainty or knowledge. Rather, just as there are contexts that call for the first-person personal pronoun or for one’s name, there are contexts that call for certainty or for knowledge. And this point is even deeper, since suggested by it is the importance of logic or grammar in deciding which is called for in a given context.
Of course, within the context of Moore’s argument his proposition poses no problem. The problem that arises has to do with the aim of philosophy and the intention of Moore. Moore takes “I know I have two hands” to be a proposition about things in the external world; but what the proposition means to us, as we suggested above, is something of a mystery. For Moore, the sense of his proposition is assured—he can simply say he knows something—by his knowing something; but the proposition fails to bear sense for others. (And this is not to suggest that Moore can say something that means something only to himself. And even if this is granted, then it may be inferred that the sense of Moore’s proposition is unclear even to himself.) Such usage occurs in other areas of discourse, but its occurrence in philosophy is frequent. Bluntly put, philosophic usage has a way of expressing something, which is perfectly clear and certain to its author, but what it expresses often fails to make sense to others. The sense of many philosophic propositions—like “I know I have two hands”—is unclear; and this fact goes unnoticed often precisely because they are employed in philosophic discourse. We don’t think this criticism would obtain against other disciplines that employ specialized usage. For example, medical usage seems “translatable” into normal usage, just as mathematical usage can be translated from numerals to words and letters. Philosophic usage is often not translatable simply because what it expresses is quite literally nonsense.
To clarify, later in On Certainty Wittgenstein describes again the asymmetry between a purely philosophic usage of “I know…” and what we’d like to call a “normal usage.” Imagine,
I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden; he says again and again “I know that that’s a tree,” pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him: “This fellow isn’t insane. We are only doing philosophy.”[ii]
This situation makes a striking picture, which surely recurs in an analogous form throughout philosophy classes. Discussing a topic like certain knowledge makes for strange conversation. Again, this isn’t to prescribe a normal usage. But there is a usage that has proven its worth in practice, which we shall call normal. Saying, “I know that that’s a tree,” occurs usefully in life. One may see a tall shrub and say, “I know that that’s a tree,” and he would be wrong. Seeing an obstruction laying across the road, a driver could say to his passenger, “That’s no shadow. I know that that’s a tree.” These specific utterances aren’t implicitly better or more worthy. But their worth is proved by their successful execution. Insanity is something like the constant lack over time of success in one’s utterances. If someone were sitting in the garden looking at a tree while repeating, “I know that that’s a tree,” one would be tempted to count him as insane. Such an utterance violates countless interwoven nuances of our language. These nuances aren’t prescribed by anyone, but they are stronger than any transcendent a priori categories of the understanding. Within the free play of meanings, certain conventions are transmitted and codified by no one, but they restrict the usage of everyone. And for the most part, saying that such an utterance lacks an appropriate context from which it derives its sense sums up the wrongness of it. But this proposition is so strange that it is even difficult to say how it’s wrong. Even if the proposition were true, it would be very hard to think of a situation in which it makes sense to say it. Wittgenstein gives an example of a patient who goes to the doctor, showing him his hand while saying, “This is a hand, not…; I’ve injured it, etc, etc.”[iii] Are we to say that such an utterance makes sense? Even though the proposition that “This is a hand, not…” is true, is it a piece of information? Doubtless, we would say that the utterance is absurd and superfluous. It has no use in this context. It would be like saying “Hello, how are you?” in the middle of a conversation. Moore’s primary mistake is to ignore the role of context in his usage. He has been seduced by philosophy into thinking that a proposition like “I know I have two hands” actually makes sense in the context in which he utters it. Bearing out further the asymmetry between philosophic and normal usage, Wittgenstein says that when we can imagine a situation in which an utterance—the types of utterance which Moore says he knows—might normally be used, by turning an utterance such as “I know I have two hands” into a “move in one of our language-games,” “it loses everything that is philosophically astonishing.”[iv] Philosophy can be seen to make for itself its own work when it uses utterances outside of a meaning-conferring context.
To think that language need not be employed in a normal way—as a “move in one of our language-games,” a move which we will elucidate shortly—as Moore seems to do, would be to allow for utterances to have a transcendent sense of meaning that attaches somehow to the utterance itself. Moore’s proof contains this presupposition, which surely went unnoticed by him. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the meaning of “I know I have two hands” must be assumed as pre-given and predetermined because Moore assumes his utterance is obviously, trivially true and makes sense. Moore has committed himself to the notion that language bears meaning apart from human intercourse and the life of the present. Such a commitment suggests a meaningful substratum that lies further back from lived experience, which sounds prima facie like Platonic formalism.
Wittgenstein’s explicit criticism is that Moore tries to refute the claim that one cannot know things about the world with the claim that he can know them; and the way in which Moore makes this claim is by saying things like “I know I have two hands.”[v] The problem with skepticism—and the realism that Moore attempts to prove in order to refute skepticism—is that the meaning of both the skeptic and the realist seems to hang in mid-air. The problems attendant to this topic seem epistemological, but they are grammatical. The connections between epistemology and grammar have confused our clear understanding of the problems of philosophy. By drawing out these connections, our hope is that we can influence the desires of philosophers. In On Certainty, the primary desire that Wittgenstein can be seen to defeat is the desire for a fully grounded knowledge. This aim seems paradoxical: Wittgenstein tries both to point out the groundlessness of our knowledge, and to point out that our knowledge is objective. Wittgenstein accomplishes at the same time these two counter-running projects by transforming the meaning of objectivity. This meaning-transformation shows as nonsensical the metaphysical notion of objectivity based on an absolute grounding of knowledge.
15 March 2007
[The metaphorical jump.]
The Metaphysical Presupposition: A Sleight of Hand(s)
Wittgenstein responds to the challenge posed most strongly by Descartes’ Meditations: having been deceived in the past, how is it that humans can know anything for certain, secure objective knowledge? In order for philosophy and science to proceed assuredly, it seems as if this challenge must be satisfied—Cartesian knowledge must be grounded on something unmoving. Descartes characterizes knowledge itself, the cogito, as in a sense securing for itself objectivity. The Cartesian-rational God is concomitant with the cogito. If there is a God who isn’t a deceiver, then humans can know things with certainty. Descartes’ metaphysical presupposition is that there is a rational God; this God is both grounded by and grounds the very possibility of objective knowledge, and this ground falls before all empirical experience. By supposing the existence of God, humans have certainty, and therefore knowledge. The notion of an undeceiving God grounds the epistemological criterion of seeing a proposition in a clear and distinct light.
But rather than address in On Certainty philosophy’s seduction by metaphysics, Wittgenstein builds upon another philosopher’s response to this question about transcendental certainty. And ironically, he finds a metaphysical presupposition in a most unlikely place, G. E. Moore’s supposedly commonsensical attempt to prove the existence of an external world.[i] In his attempt, Moore conceals a metaphysical presupposition when he says, “I certainly did at the moment know that which I expressed,” by holding up two hands.[ii] His presupposition is that he can say meaningfully, and with certainty, the he knows a proposition of the type “I have two hands.” Wittgenstein’s criticism is not that such knowledge is impossible, but rather that an utterance like “I know I have two hands” is probably nonsense. That is, Moore presupposes that he can merely, meaningfully say, “I know I have two hands.”
When philosophers use “I know…” Wittgenstein says, “I want to reply ‘you don’t know anything!’—and yet I would not say that to anyone who was speaking without philosophical intention.”[iii] The asymmetric response to different utterances of “I know…” gives a demonstration of Wittgenstein’s notion of knowledge and its attendant utterances: the meaning of such an utterance is heavily dependent on a context, and the sense or meaning of the utterance “I know…” depends on the context in which it is used. Moore’s use of “I know I have two hands” lacks an appropriate context. It is not that Moore’s utterance cannot make sense, but he makes an uncalled for assumption that it makes sense and expresses a certainty. It rests therefore on the same type of metaphysical presupposition that Descartes makes in his Meditations. That is, a common understanding between Moore and his audience is presupposed in the same way in which Descartes roughly assumes the existence of an undeceiving God, which is the condition of meaningful intersubjective experiences. For Moore to say meaningfully “I know I have two hands” conceals a presupposition that his utterance makes sense and that that which he expresses calls for a proposition of the form “I know…”
Wittgenstein’s response is that Moore’s utterance lacks a context within which it would make sense; and Moore’s thinking that it does make sense—that it does certainly make sense—presupposes a transcendent sense of meaning that must be “further back” from the beginning. For Moore’s utterance “I know I have two hands” to make sense it must be nested within a situation from which its sense is given. Sense is conferred by context; a system of signs, actions, trainings, customs, and traditions must always already be in place in order for an utterance to make sense. Moore makes this proposition within the context of a piece of philosophy that takes up our certain knowledge of the external world. It is clear what Moore means to say: namely, he knows that there exist things in the world, for example his two hands. But Moore has gone astray. Wittgenstein isn’t prescribing a certain normal usage of the proposition “I know I have two hands.” He merely notes that in order for such a proposition to make sense it must make sense. This point is an indictment of philosophy as a whole, of what we’d call “philosophic usage,” which often fails to make sense. For Wittgenstein would rather “like to reserve the expression ‘I know’ for the cases in which it used in normal linguistic exchange.”[iv] We would like to show, then, what it is that separates “philosophic usage” from “normal usage.” Wittgenstein’s strategic work on knowledge and certainty centers around the ways in which we use propositions that express knowledge and certainty.
[i] G. E. Moore, “Proof of an External World,” in Philosophic Papers (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1959), 127-150; G. E. Moore, “A Defence of Common Sense,” in Philosophic Papers (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1959), 32-59.
[ii] Moore, “Proof,” 146.
[iii] On Certainty, §407.
[iv] On Certainty, §260.
14 March 2007
Speaking of writing we just read another pretty awesome post on Santa Fe craigslist. We never saw craigslist until we came out here, and, well, even though we're sure it's better in a place in which there are tons of crazy people, we think it's A-Ok here. Sometimes. But this post, unlike the last one (from which an effluvia of despair and desperation fled like it was on a burning shortbus full of, like, retarded gas-soaked children), this post is just bitter. And it characterizes one man's experience with the local dating scene. [Edit: unfortunately.] The
[The metaphorical jump.]
Well, It's finally time to admit when I've been wrong. After years of trying to find good, honest women with integrity, I realize that I need to change. I mean, who the HELL do I think I am? I'm not that special to expect sooo much out of someone. So, I've decided to change my expectations. I'm turning over a new leaf ladies. Here's the list of NEW traits I'm looking for in my future lady:Ok, we think that reevaluating one's standards and expectations is a process that should occur fairly regularly, even if one happens to be dating or married to someone. Alcohol, we find, is a good standards-and-expectations reevaluator.
LANGUAGE: For now on, I don't give a shit how you talk. I love it when I hear you say words like dawg, cuz, aiight, yo, dat, holla, crib, props, peeps or any other words that would make an English teacher piss themselves.
We think one standard this fellow needs to raise, though, is his age requirement. You should not be trying to date middle schoolers. Well, unless he's in middle school, we suppose; but then this guy is too young to be posting on craigslist. Double whammy!
SPELLING: GOD, it makes me so hard when I get all those texts(you know those fuckers cost, right?) from you and it looks as if you dropped out of the 4th grade after repeating 3 times. I've been suffering through it for the sake of not talking to your retarded ass, but now if you refer back to the first item on my new list...I don't care anymore. So text your shorthand ass off or call me, either way I can't WAIT to hear from you.
See above. Bro's age requirement = at least 5th grader
HYGIENE: Let me tell you something, this is an area I REALLY need to lighten up on. All this time that I've been trimming, or shaving, or washing, or cleaning my tool(penis for you dumbasses)I've been expecting the same from you. Not anymore! Nope, for now on I will enjoy eating your box for an hour as I waft through the smells wondering if I'm munching day old tuna, or an opened box of sardines left out on the counter by my hefty roommate.
Just to reiterate: "[...] my tool(penis for you dumbasses)I've [...]" parentheses are not em-dashes. 'Nuff said. Well, on second thought, we suppose that the poster, here, should probably just suck it up--pun intended.
NICOTINE: Yep, this has been a biggy for me. I know, I know, I'm an asshole! But this is a new me. A new beginning. I promise I will not discriminate against you anymore because you smoke. Yep, for know on I will learn to love the taste of a fucking ashtray in my mouth as my clothes smell of week old cigarettes and you slowly give me cancer. I would love to die a slow and painful death because of your second hand smoke!
Eh, no comment.
EXERCISE: HOLY SHIT! Are you fucking kidding me? A woman who takes care of herself and takes pride in her body? Not anymore. Fuck that shit!! I want a woman who watches an infomercial for the Ab Machine only because there's 15 minutes left before the informercial for the Deep Fried Twinkie machine comes on. Are you joking me? Hell yes I'll go with you to Taco Bell for 2 Chalupas, 2 Tacos and an order of Pinto beans(with a large Diet Coke...gottawatch those calories) at 1 in the morning after we had whale sex because you can't miss your 4th meal! Who the hell wants a woman who can shop at Victoria Secrets for sexy undies? HAHAHA! NOT ME!!! I want your sexy undies made out of my couch cover!
We have to say, this one really divides us. On the one hand, girls that go to the gym all the time tend to be vain and narcissitic; but on the other hand, like, no fatties. Funny story, we made deep-fried twinkies the other day, and they're pretty fucking good. So, like, don't knock 'em, etc. Also, most medical professionals recommend five evenly-spaced meals per day, so depending on when you go to bed, a taco bell run at 1am might not be a bad idea. Plus, doesn't this brother get hungry after he gets his fuck on? Pluswhich, c.f. picture to the right, garments made from shit you find lying around the house (in this case, a pillow case and some red tape) can be awefully sexy. Just, you know, FYI.
COMMITMENT: Who needs this? The nerve of me. All this time I've been expecting my girlfriends to fuck only ME?!? I have some nerve. Well, ladies now I don't give a shit. If it's 12 at night and you still haven't shown up for our date which was supposed to be at 8:00, I'm no longer gonna care that you went out with your girlfriends to a bar and took some stranger home for a protein swallow. Who needs that kind of stress? If I'm at work and your fucking every guy in the grocery store over at the Dairy section, I DON'T CARE! Shit, whore it up ladies! I'll just be at home WHENEVER you call with my favorite DVD(Junk in the Trunk #12), a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of lube hoping that they are both empty at the end of the night and my room smells like jizz and puke. Well, there you go. I hope this turns out well for me.
Come pick me up,
Take me out,
Fuck me up,
Steal my records,
Screw all my friends,
Behind my back,
With a smile on your face,
And then do it again.
Overall, we rate this fellow a 2.7 / 10.
Comments: Needs to stop trolling for thin, clean, intelligent fifth graders. Guy is probably turned off from the highschool crowd because of said crowd's affinity for picking up smoking. Eh, this is taking too long and we got kind of bored.
But the point: we paraphrased the above (stupid, we must admit, we understand, but still, stupid) line in order to quote with more purity this line from a review of some band that apparently makes it its own business to reinterpret classic rock or something. Honestly, the review was pretty boring until the end.
If, on the other hand, you think the Ramones are the apotheosis of cool, do not listen to this record. I repeat: DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS RECORD. It will probably make you sick.
The protasis had something to do with some cheeky references to something or other, but this here apodosis is pretty sweet. The caps really sum up, we're willing to bet, the overall message of the review.
But, like, we have two questions, then. 1) Doesn't everyone think the Ramones are the apotheosis of cool (apo = towards; theos=god: highest form of, viz., in the development of something)? 2) Then why did this shitty not-even-really-the-Mahavishnu-Orchestra-whose-very-credibility-the-review-questions-anyway-knock-off-band's album get a rating of 6, which is only one less than the rating given to EITS' record?
But, arbitrariness is nice, too.
13 March 2007
[Whoa, whoa. I just linked to "cigarette burns" on wikipedia only to find out that the term is not "canonical." WTF?! How else is the projectionist supposed to know when to change the reel? If the term isn't canonical, OK; but its use certainly is canonical--i.e., every projectionist agrees: gotta change the reel when we see the mark in the upper-right corner. And until recently the mark was made by a cigarette burning the appropriate frames. Q.E.D., motherfuckers.]
If I didn't know any better, I'd say the 300 was shot on vinyl six-pack abs suits and congealed ketchup qua blood. Or that they took some stock footage from the Matrix and, like, photoshopped in spears instead of bullets.
More homoerotic than a commercial for the marines (not that there's anything with that, 'natch) 300 is a two-hour-long (that is to say, extended) ode to the male anatomy. You see abs, sex lines, pectorals with creases on their ridges, which are on top of other creases, etc. And the Spartans, who wear nothing but girl shorts and flaming-crimson capes, have the gall to jibe the Athenians for engaging in pederasty. The nerve! Spartans look like major pervs: like those guys who work out on the beach and oil up each other and try to fuck everything. The film is downright pornographic in its depiction of violence, abs, and those hard, strong spears piercing manflesh left and right.
But the ideological discourse of the film is what really depressed me. The Spartan king, Leonidas, says continually that his country is fighting for freedom when it seems like the least free country depicted. Xerxes' army is composed of 100 nations who form a unilateral coalition to end Spartan brutality. Leonidas' Spartans fucking kill babies if they're small or misshapen--does that sound a little like a Mao-esque practice? And the Spartans kill or maim two different diplomats, the first of which catalyzes the war in the first place. And Leonidas' stupid slut wife (who gets tricked into fucking her arch-rival) says, at one point in which I almost simultaneously pissed my pants and vomited a little in my mouth, that "Freedom isn't free." C.f., Team America: World Police's song, "Freedom isn't free / No, there's a hefty fuckin' fee / And if we don't all chip in, we'll never pay that biiiillllll." Etc. So, everyone, all 300 (give or take) Spartans are forced to die for freedom. Awesome.
There's textbook orientalism governing both the production of (by the filmmakers) and our (viewers') reception of Xerxes' army. It's so very mysterious and exotic. Arabs, negroes, and chinamen. ook at those freaks! And little guys in wizard hats are throwing gunpowder bombs! And, and, they're so cruel and brutal and... maybe a little inscrutable. And look at Xerxes! He has no facial hair and he talks like a transvestite; and he wears eyemakeup suggestive of, well, a transvestite that doesn't know how to put on eyemakeup. And the harem scene. Those people are so exotic. They're probably all smoking opium, but I don't know, they're culture is so strange.
And the Christ-like-ness of Leonidas. He even fucking dies with his arms spread just so, doing is best Jesus-on-the-cross impersonation. He's surrounded by slaughtered men and crimson capes and looks like a pre-Renaissance painting of a bunch of dumbass martyrs.
I fucking hated this movie. Why bother?
Making 300 = Making (lots and lots and lots of) money.
Seeing 300 = Boredom, wasting money
P.S., The Spartans--paragons of virtue and excellence--needed the pederast childfucking Athenians to soften up the Persian army before they could even think of stepping with a ground war.
12 March 2007
[...] and from this vantage feel that i can value you more, for what we have now and for what we had before, i cant read the future shawn, maybe it would be neat once in a while to know but i know it cant be done, i can only be sureof how i feel, with the temperature and frequency flowing through changes all the time, you know how it is because its the same with you, and maybe thats why were not together, we were never really quite sure where we stood with each other, or maybe we were too young and insecure with ourselves to begin with, but again all this is past, i came close to breaking my neck the last few years straining to look back, all i want to do is look forward, but i want to take you with me, moving forward on my terms doesnt have anything to do with forgetting you and our memories together, but the opposite in fact, im filled with desire to face you and look you in the eye like i always have, without grief or even a tinge of regret for what did not transpire, for shattered dreams, we're not left with as many years as we once did, we should spend the remainder of our days, yes, reminiscing with a smile, having forgiven the past, preparing for the next great love of our lives, you were it once, as im sure i was yours, no one can tell the future shawn, if you fell out of the sky as i was passing by, clearly i was meant to catch you, i would let you ride on my shoulders, i would parade you around like a queen, let the crowd throw flowers at you, then steal you away into my secret hideaway where you would always be safe, but life isnt a fairytale, and both of us find beauty in the chaos where anything can happen, still i know i can protect you in the midst of one, and you i know would protect me, this is reality, and [...]
Woah. Shawn: call. this. woman. now. Run--don't walk! Eh, then again. Well... Is that really so different from this? Yes? Really, yes? No? No, no no no: yes, it is. If poster above were, say, part Andalusian (chien?) I'd chat her up myself. But that's hardly this. (Yes?)
[...] and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
Blogger is no longer in beta. But they've acknowledge, in a way, that being out of beta makes sense only over and above the being-in of being in beta. Hence, the logo, which has
That's all I got! I'll write about Vilem Flusser soon.
09 March 2007
Second Post of Thesis - On Certainty
That the game of language-learning “proves its worth” is shown by its working in practice, functioning well. This worth is shown by the form of life that we inhabit: our society’s language-learning is characterized by a standard of education in which there is an accepted, working methodology of teaching and learning; our speech acts generally succeed in communicating things; and more significantly, our whole way of life shows “the stability of things as the norm.” Our shared form of life shows the worth of the game.
But, as Wittgenstein says, the worth of the game should not be confused with its ground. Looking at how people hunt and expect certain animal parts always to exist in certain places, he says, “I naturally do not want to say that men should behave like this, but only that they do behave like this.”[i] We are not exactly interested in proving objectivity. We are, however, quite interested in looking at different ways in which an objective type of relation seems to obtain. And whereas metaphysical philosophy converges on the transcendental a priori in order to make sense of objectivity, Wittgenstein contents himself with what’s apparent, what comes after the beginning. Wittgenstein should not be counted as a mere empiricist or a mere psychologist, though. Nor is he interested in the descriptive science of anthropology. We think that doing so would be to accuse him of a philosophical irresponsibility, which is undeserved. Despite his interest in the empirical, a posteriori site of knowledge, Wittgenstein’s critique of classical metaphysics is keen and quite specific. At stake is his convincing us that there is a robust notion of objectivity that doesn’t rely on the a priori. Wittgenstein clarifies the notion of objectivity, but he refuses to understand it by “ratiocination,” metaphysical speculation and over-rationalization. His appeal to “any logic good enough for a primitive means of communication” is an appeal to a non-sublime, non-prescriptive logic. For Wittgenstein, logic is something of a blunt instrument—not the keen razor of the mind, by which it is traditionally understood. Wittgenstein’s unique conception of logic is given by his expositions of language-games. Objectivity fails to obtain in a transcendental sense, but within the area circumscribed by Wittgenstein’s logic—language-games—certain propositions are objectively true. Moreover, it belongs to the logical determination of language-games to set the limit of the intelligibility of our language and actions, which then determines the limit of our thought. Thus, a different sort of objectivity obtains when we look from the outside at language-games: certain propositions fall outside of certain language-games. Our focus on language-games, and their attendant notions, will describe Wittgenstein’s notion of objectivity.
We will first focus on Wittgenstein’s critique of the classical metaphysical worldview, which worldview seeks wrongly to investigate a priori sites that fall “further back” from the beginning. Special attention will be paid to Moore’s concealed metaphysical presupposition in his criticism of the classic metaphysical worldview. We will then examine Wittgenstein’s notion of logic, to which connect his notions of knowledge, belief, certainty, and language-games. Finally, we will look at that with which Wittgenstein replaces the traditional notion of ground: action.
[i] On Certainty, §284.
08 March 2007
We had this whole then no sound style sheet worked out in our head last year, but we'd obviously forgotten it. Then no sound style, we thought, would use headlines. And the first person plural. Well, we'll see.
From craigslist santa fe:
Rubbed your feet and thigh at Thousand Waves - 48
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2007-01-22, 9:53PM MST
You were in the hot tub with hubby, great face and D cups. You sat next to me and I massaged your thigh, rubbed your butt. You wound up rubbing your tits in your hubbys face and massaged his member under the water. Thought I didn't notice did'nt you. I'd like to have dinner or have you for dinner- your choice.
Location: Santa Fe motel
Uhm... We went to Ten Thousand Waves last year with the girlfriend, who might I add paid for the whole thing, and we opted for the private tub, which was really nice and relaxing, smelling the experience did like cedar and nature and satisfaction. We couldn't imagine being in the public tub. Well, we could. And that there ad above is exactly how we imagine it. This point has been put better and made often, but fat old people and public nudity don't mix. They don't mix! Fat old people and offers of cunnilingus? That's just. Fucking. Disgusting.
So this is what we would call something of a cop-out post. But, well. (We hate how hyphenated words looks; Joyce was the most stylish writer ever. We were reading out loud "Araby" a few nights ago and the way he puts one word against another word to make a sentence--it's so beautiful. You can learn everything about writing with beauty (not that that would have to be your goal) by reading out loud and typing or writing Joyce's writing: Joyce constructed neologism-type words by omitting hyphens and jamming words together, not that that was the phenomenon about which We were talking directly above, but that is the thought that got usonto this topic about Joyce.)
We're going to paste in here the first part of ourcompleted thesis. We're really happy with how it came out. And, We'll, like, do something else later.
[This here below is the epigraph. Following that is the first page or so of the thesis.]
I submit that tennis is the most beautiful sport there is, and also the most
demanding. It requires body control, hand-eye coordination, quickness,
flat-out speed, endurance, and that strange mix of caution and abandon we call
courage. It also requires smarts. Just one single shot in one
exchange in one point of a high-level match is a nightmare of mechanical
variables. Given that a net that’s three feet high (at the center) and two
players in (unrealistically) a fixed position, the efficacy of one single shot
is determined by its angle, depth, pace, and spin. And each of these
determinants is itself determined by still other variables—for example, a shot’s
depth is determined by the height at which the ball passes over the net combined
with some integrated function of pace and spin, with the ball’s height over the
net itself determined by the player’s body position, grip on the racquet, degree
of backswing, angle of racquet face, and the 3-D coordinates through which the
racquet face moves during that interval in which the ball is actually on the
strings. The tree of variables and determinants branches out, on and on,
and then on even farther when the opponent’s own positions and predilections and
the ballistic features of the ball he’s sent you to hit are factored in.
No CPU yet existent could compute the expansion of variables for even a single
exchange—smoke would come out of the mainframe. The sort of thinking
involved is the sort that can be done only by a living and highly conscious
entity, and then only unconsciously, i.e., by combining talent with repetition
to such an extent that the variables are combined and controlled without
conscious thought. In other words, serious tennis is a kind of
David Foster Wallace[i]Notes
[i] David Foster Wallace, “Tennis Player
Profession Artistry As a Paradigm of Certain Stuff About Choice,
Limitation, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness,” in A Supposedly
Thing I’ll Never Do Again (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1997),
About two-thirds of the way through On Certainty,[i] Wittgenstein seemingly encapsulates his entire philosophic
project in one day’s worth of propositions.
471. It is so difficult to find
the beginning. Or, better: it is difficult to begin at the
beginning. And not try to go further back.
472. When a child
learns language it learns at the same time what is to be investigated and what
not. When it learns that there is a cupboard in the room, it isn’t taught
to doubt whether what it sees later on is still a cupboard or only a kind of
473. Just as in writing we learn a particular basic form
of letters and then vary it later, so we learn first the stability of things as
the norm, which is then subject to alterations.
474. This game
proves its worth. That may be the cause of its being played, but it is not
475. I want to regard man here as an animal; as a
primitive being to which one grants instinct but not ratiocination. As a
creature in a primitive state. Any logic good enough for a primitive means
of communication needs no apology from us. Language did not emerge from
some kind of ratiocination.
Taken in order, we believe (surmise)
that these five propositions position cogently Wittgenstein’s thought about the
limits of thought, and therefore philosophy. The first proposition is the
kernel—the essential seed—of Wittgenstein’s philosophy: his work tries to
exorcise from the reader the urge to “try to go further back.” This urge
spurs on philosophers to raise nonsensical questions, to which they proffer
nonsensical answers; from this urge results what we would call
“metaphysics.” On the one hand, the metaphysical urge catalyzed Platonism
and Aristotelian auto-affective notion of God. Both of these doctrinaire
systems assume that there is an underlying cause that lies further back from the
sensible world. Both Platonic formalism and Aristotle’s conception of the
“unmoved mover” as pure being-at-work suppose an impoverished view of reality;
both try to supply a metaphysical backdrop that secures for reality a more full
And we find on the other hand, thousands of years later, Moore
taking up another aspect of going “further back.” His attempt to prove
realism fails for similar reasons, over which we will go later. Attempts
at proving realism and idealism; deriving transcendental categories of the
understanding; and even the search for totally certain knowledge all arise from
the metaphysical presupposition of the existence of a “further back.”
Philosophers rely on this “further back” in order to ground their thought in
apodicticity or transcendence—it is the site of the a
Where Wittgenstein provisionally situates the “beginning,” then, is the point at
which “a child learns language.” As he says, attendant to learning
language, a child must learn quite a few other things: the stability or
uniformity of the objects expressed by language; belief in the regularity (of
the meaning) of language; the authority of the teacher. These things
simply cannot be the language-learner’s theme of investigation if he is to learn
language. But it would be a mistake to think that these uninvestigated
themes comprise the “ground” of language-learning. The game—in this
instance, language-learning—“proves its worth,” but this worth doesn’t ground
the game. A game’s ground is “further back” from the practice of the game,
and the ground is not itself part of the game: it is a condition of the
possibility for the game. This ground would have to come prior to the
practice of the game, and it is part of Wittgenstein’s task to show—in general
terms—why the transcendental ground—or the urge to find a transcendental
ground—is not a proper theme for philosophy.
[i] Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty (New York: Harper & Row, 1969).
07 March 2007
06 March 2007
And, well, we got really into marmite and building overlarge fires in or smallish fireplace. And we started upping our ratio on Oink. And, uh. We smoked a lot of pot and played some Madden. Oh oh oh oh! And it snowed, like, a shitload in Santa Fe, NM. Like, we were shoveling, for, like days on end. But we thought it was really cute to see all las familias walking to the store pulling in tow children on sleds. Never see people walk around here...
Well. The Christmas break didn't teach usvery much. But we think we've learned, like, a lot since then. James Joyce's birthday has come and gone, and we've decided to start blogging again. (Which decision is really based on material circumstances of leisure and means.)
Top Ten things we learned since the New Year
10. Get blisteringly drunk at a Super Bowl party if and only if you want to blot from your soft head the memory of the wretched game. (You will, maybe, also start lots of fights with your co-revelers; but your beer pong skills may be raised to an illogically keen level.)
9. Guitar Hero--at which we've scoffed to myself privately, with a superior bearing one might say, since we fancy ourselves a Guitarist, and as such, above the game--is really fun. But the songs the game has suck.
8. Reading fiction (opposed, of course, to philosophy and maths books) is surprisingly fun. Gaddis' Recognitions deserves all the credit on this one. And really, the two blank intangibles--ethics and aesthetics--are tied together in that the latter depicts situations in which we may imagine the former existing. Or, maybe we're given an aesthetic appreciation of ethical situations. C.f., Blood Meridian.
7. You really can't tell your friend that you slept with his girlfriend: even if you know and he knows that it's not true; and especially if you know that it will piss him off.
6. Paul Celan was a beautiful genius of man. This title he deserves merely for formulating the word "Worthöhlen," "wordcaves."
A music triptych:
5. So-called noise music includes more than Lightning Bolt. And electronic music includes more than Aphex Twin.
4. If all you do is download lots of music; rarely have time to listen to any of it; delete all your newly downloaded music to make room for to download more music; and end up
only listening to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea anyway: buy a record player, get a few LPs, and listen to those closely. We finally get Black Sabbath and Joanna Newsom. Sweet!
3. Wire. I mean, wow. Really? I mean... Wow. Pink Flag? You've heard it...? You didn't go burn down something? I mean, danced around? ... I mean... wow. Wire. Chairs Missing isn't better than anything Joy Division ever did? Really? Wow... (We're still working on 154.)
2. Ostensibly: you're working on your thesis every day for five hours. Really: you're smoking pot and playing Madden every day for five hours. Then: you realize that you may smoke pot no longer. Finally: you work like hell for two weeks and don't sleep and finish your thesis and the product is awesome. Incidentally: you don't smoke pot anymore because it freaks you out and wastes your time.
1. Try not to fuck over people.