Schelling’s Philosophy of Mythology

I’m in the middle of writing a long essay on Schelling and the resurgence of interest in his work of late, at least in the Anglophone world. I’ll be posting the essay in installments as I finish each section. For now, here is Jerry Day, from his book on Schelling’s influence on Eric Voegelin, describing…

Thinking in media res.

My Muse’s ideas remain mute to the world until given voice by the poet who courts her.  For this I use my mouth, my tongue, my teeth, and my lungs. As I inhale and prepare to name the world, it dawns on me that I have lost the ability to tell the difference between my…

On Oral and Literate Consciousness, from “Becoming Animal” by David Abram

“While persons brought up within literate culture often speak about the natural world, indigenous, oral peoples sometimes speak directly to that world, acknowledging certain animals, plants, and even landforms as expressive subjects with whom they might find themselves in conversation. Obviously these other beings do not speak with a human tongue; they do not speak…

Rudolf Steiner on the Evolution of Consciousness and the Alphabet

Here are the first few paragraphs of a lecture by Steiner (given in Dornach, 18th December 1921) on the relationship between alphabetic technologies and the evolution of Greek and Roman consciousness: For some time we have been occupied with gaining a more accurate knowledge of Man’s relation to the universe, and today we would like to supplement our…

The Ears, Eyes, and Mind of the Wor(l)d

What is language, and how did it evolve? The flurry of recent posts concerned with media ecology and the way the content of philosophical thinking depends upon the form in which it is expressed has redirected my attention to the significance of the Word. I think grammatically, which is to say that my alphabetic consciousness,…

Metaphor and the Allure of Objects

I’ve just finished Harman‘s chapters on Metaphor and Humor in Guerrilla Metaphysics. He explores the meaning-making capacities of language and laughter in the hopes that they might help account for how objects are capable of interaction despite their infinite concealment from one another. Through his explorations into Ortega y Gasset‘s ontology of metaphor and Bergson‘s account…

Curing Philosophy

Wittgenstein’s model philosopher would act like a physician, though instead of trying to cure physical ailments, he would attempt to relieve metaphysical tension. The philosopher is a doctor of the mind, more commonly known as a psychologist. His task is to keep the language from misunderstanding itself. This, in turn, prevents people from becoming insane….

Wittgenstein and Language

What is language? Wittgenstein’s early project was to define language in the terms most familiar to the Western tradition, running through Augustine up until Russell. His aim was to show that all philosophy consisted in defining the logical form of sentences. A certain proposition was thought to be isomorphic to a certain event in the…

The End of the Word (preliminary remarks)

To engage in philosophy is attempt to wake up from a dream. I had one once where I dreamt of these men’s thoughts: I believe one of the things Christianity says is that sound doctrines are all useless. That you have to change your life. (Or the direction of your life.) It says that wisdom…

The Limits of Language

The Limits of Language It seems ironic, at least in light of the premise of this paper, that the thoughts of a man such as Socrates could have given birth to the last twenty-four hundred years of Western philosophical discourse. Was it not he who said “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance”?…