Notebooks

## Positivism

27 Feb 2017 16:30

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.

Recommended:
• Leszek Kolakowski, History of Positivist Thought. [The first edition, translated as Alienation of Reason, was written while the author was still in Poland, and some of the things I object to in it may have been necessary to get it past the censors. I haven't gotten hold of the second edition, which was revised by the author after his exile.]
• David Stove, The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies. [Marvellously amusing book. First proposed the nosology.]