Friday, April 27, 2018


When Wittgenstein talks about the right way to Grantchester in his Lecture on Ethics, presumably he just picked a destination more or less at random. But it's an appropriate place for him to have chosen in the light of Rupert Brooke's poem "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester" (written in 1912). I won't quote the whole thing, but here's a bit, describing Grantchester as a (dubious) kind of heaven on earth:
In Grantchester their skins are white;
They bathe by day, they bathe by night;
The women there do all they ought;
The men observe the Rules of Thought.
They love the Good; they worship Truth;
They laugh uproariously in youth;
(And when they get to feeling old,
They up and shoot themselves, I’m told) . . . 
Perhaps anyone in Berlin, where Brooke was when he wrote the poem, would head to Grantchester or else feel ashamed for not doing so. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


If I had time one of the things I would most like to do is write a book about Schopenhauer, possibly relating his thought to that of Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Anscombe. So I might blog about him, especially The World as Will and Representation, from time to time. Here are some interesting bits of the preface:
I propose to point out here how this book must be read in order to be thoroughly understood. By means of it I only intend to impart a single thought. Yet, notwithstanding all my endeavours, I could find no shorter way of imparting it than this whole book. I hold this thought to be that which has very long been sought for under the name of philosophy
According as we consider the different aspects of this one thought which I am about to impart, it exhibits itself as that which we call metaphysics, that which we call ethics, and that which we call æsthetics
no other advice can be given as to how one may enter into the thought explained in this work than to read the book twice, and the first time with great patience, a patience which is only to be derived from the belief, voluntarily accorded, that the beginning presupposes the end almost as much as the end presupposes the beginning, and that all the earlier parts presuppose the later almost as much as the later presuppose the earlier.
the first perusal demands patience, founded on confidence that on a second perusal much, or all, will appear in an entirely different light
The second demand is this, that the introduction be read before the book itself, although it is not contained in the book, but appeared five years earlier under the title, “Ueber die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde: eine philosophische Abhandlung” (On the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason: a philosophical essay).
But the same disinclination to repeat myself word for word, or to say the same thing a second time in other and worse words, after I have deprived myself of the better, has occasioned another defect in the first book of this work. For I have omitted all that is said in the first chapter of my essay “On Sight and Colour,” which would otherwise have found its place here, word for word. Therefore the knowledge of this short, earlier work is also presupposed.
Finally, the third demand I have to make on the reader might indeed be tacitly assumed, for it is nothing but an acquaintance with the most important phenomenon that has appeared in philosophy for two thousand years, and that lies so near us: I mean the principal writings of Kant
He likens reading Kant to having cataracts removed and to being reborn. And yet he does not seem to think that Kant has yet done enough.

There is also quite a bit of Wittgenstein-ish stuff like this (from the second preface):
anything true one may have thought, and anything obscure one may have thrown light upon, will appeal to any thinking mind, no matter when it comprehends it, and will rejoice and comfort it. To such an one we speak as those who are like us have spoken to us, and have so become our comfort in the wilderness of this life.  
Compare the first words of the Tractatus' preface:
This book will perhaps only be understood by one who has himself already at some time thought the thoughts that are expressed herein – or at least similar thoughts. –It is therefore not a textbook.—Its end would be reached if it gave pleasure to one person who read it with understanding.
In general there seem to me to be quite a few similarities to the early Wittgenstein here, even if they turn out to be only superficial.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

American playlist

I haven't posted much lately, which always makes me feel both lazy and that I must post something pretty good to make up for it. This is not that pretty good post. Instead it's some nonsense about music. Sorry.

I recently visited St Louis and doing so got me thinking about driving across the country, and what music I would listen to if I did that. I'm thinking of a playlist made up of ten blues albums, ten jazz albums, ten folk albums, ten country albums, and ten rock'n'roll albums. Within each genre I'd like, within reason, to approximate an ideal of two albums by each of the best two female artists, two albums by each of the best two male artists, one compilation, and one album by someone else. And the idea is to emphasize classics, so nothing of merely historical interest and nothing too recent. All artists should be from the USA.

What's likely to happen is that I don't ever do the road-trip but do create and listen to the playlist. So I'd like it to be good.

If you have suggestions, e.g., for specific albums, feel free to make them here.