Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Language of Clarity, and A Neighbor

Noticed in Mme. de Stael's De l'Allemagne:
For objects the most clear in themselves, Kant often takes a thoroughly obscure metaphysics for guide, and it is only in the shadows of thought that he carries a glowing  torch: he recalls the Israelites, who had for guide a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day.
(Part 2, Chapter VI, "Kant")
But systems that aim at a complete explanation of the universe can scarcely be analyzed by any speech: words are not suited to these kinds of ideas, and so it occurs that in making them do this work one spreads over everything the darkness that preceded creation, not the light that followed it.
(Part 2, Chapter VII, "The Most Famous German Philosophers Before and After Kant")


  1. But words -- and math -- are all that we have as explanatory tools. Right? BTW, I understand the former but next to nothing about the latter. In any case, words have not gotten me any closer to understanding the big questions, like the ones pursued by Kant. I remain often in the dark, but every now and then the pillars of cloud and light help me make sense. Forgive the ramblings of an old man with a Swiss-cheese brain.

    1. Frederic Jameson took the title for his book The Prison-House of Language from a sentence of Nietzche's: "We have to cease to think if we refuse to do it in the prison-house of language..."