Notebooks

Positivism

15 Mar 2014 13:02

My positivism is largely temperamental: that is, I am incapable of lending credence to someone like Hegel or St. John the Divine, though I recognize they are very different. (Hegel makes me want to cry ``bullshit!'' or throw away the book, but I'd ask St. John to share his drugs, or have him committed if he didn't need any. I suspect he would have to be committed.) They are both, however, mad. So is everyone, or nearly everyone, as soon as we get away from the checks and controls of observation and survival. Man is the irrational animal.

Sometimes this makes me want to cry or scream; at others it is simply amusing, in a mildly morbid way, and I think that much preferable. I'd like to see the ``sick men's dreams'' replaced by the ``calm sunshine of the mind'' (Hume), but the lion will lay down with the lamb, and the Serb with the Bosnian, before that happens. In the meanwhile, a useful or at least entertaining empirical project would be a nosology of human thought, or a catalog of its diseases: and we may one day speak of Hegel's Syndrome, or a Johannine Malignancy.

See also Claude Bernard; Ernest Gellner; Logical positivism; Pragmatism; Scientific method.


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