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The Original Post
In La degree zero De L'ecriture Barthes rejected the idea that clarity was the most important virtue in writing. Since the 17th Century and especially since the 1674 publication of The art Poetique by Nicholas Boileau, every pupil in every French secondary school has been made to learn Boileau's couplet:

Ce que l'on conçoit bien s'énonce clairement,
Et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément.

If you think out precisely what you want to say, the words will come without delay. Barthes claims that clarity only takes on its importance as a result of the Bourgeoisie coming to power in the 17th century and in a sense, pursuit of clarity is really about intensifying a particular register in which bourgeois values communicate within the entire social body. Barthes 'rejection of clarity' was shared with other big names like Derrida, Lacan, Levi-Strauss, and Foucault. Is this part of the source of the quarrels between analytics and continentals? Is public school dogma to blame for this problematic prose style? Did the French OVER react to the clarity dogma? Were they right about perspicacity-value being a class phenomenon?

The Point Where I Come In
Derek Doyle I think saying 'rationality is just a tool' is a rhetorical move that minimises it and trivialises it, remember tools can be changed for other tools and can be pikced up or dropped at any moment, and so on.Isnt rationality more than a tool, and if it is a tool, whi [sic] use the word 'just' before it? Emotion is just chemicals, consciousness is just impulses
December 27 at 7:18am · Like

Erik Weissengruber The class argument doesn't really fly cross-europe. You can look at the rejection of older modes of elaborate rhetoric or figurative langage as a cultural politics where France extends political and cultural hegemony over Europe. French Jesuits start by displacing the rhetorical models offered by the Italian humanists, and from poetry to prose to drama, Classicism is far more an attempt to create a paradigmatic French culture than it is a "rediscovery" of classical models. You could do a Paul de Man and deconstruct French rationalism as an afterimage of a rhetorical style and not really an advance in logic or precision of thought. Perhaps you only let yourself think that which can be put in elegant language, and not really about truths.

/\ Replacement: "Perhaps some people only let themselves think that which can be put in elegant language, and not really about truths."

<Background to my thinking: Perry Anderson's Lineages of the Absolutist State. Yes, cities and urban mercantile cultures grew and different kinds of intelligentsia grew in different kinds of public spheres. But Anderson plays down the extent of any "middle-class" reform to fundamental engines of power and wealth, for all of their cultural work. An anti-Habermas, sort of. And Arno Mayer's Persistence of the Old Regime: the landed and titled aristocracy of Europe kept their hands on the levers of power, administration, the military, and culture far longer and far more thoroughly than liberally- and radically- inclined historians have allowed. Plus Stuart Hall's emphasis on Foucaultian themes of discipline and power in his later Cultural Studies writing. Addressing the micro-structures of cultural institutions and their transformations in the 18th century needs to evaluate transformations in urban, literate bourgeois cultures, not track the revolutionary trajectory of some big "B" bourgeoisie. Didn't specify my historical sources and my response reads now as a narrow statement about writing styles.>

Might As Well Face It: I am Addicted to Historical Irony

Wilson Alexander: It was Rousseau who first valued sincerity over rhetoric.

Erik Weissengruber: [This was a red flag for me: I've read many Modernists of a new-classical bent blame J-J.R. for starting the Romantic cult of sincerity, and conservatives in magazines and newspapers -- regardless of his erratic personality, the moralizing and search for clear, simple social relations is characteristic of his age, not a break from it. His "history" is a series of educative tableaux. The Autobiography is a different matter.]

Funny thing about the Discourse: he wrote it to win an academy's prize. And his examples of republican virtue are drawn from Roman Greek and Roman models. [In his response to The Encyclopedia's article on his home city] He paints Geneva as an industrious city state, with no mention of Calvinism or over 100 years of theopolitical discipline. The historical tableaux are carefully delineated to assert timeless moral virtues over the sophistication of the present. Plutarch and Cicero would have been proud. The plainness, simplicity, and clarity sought by the Voltaire and co. was exemplified in Racine and others, and taught in Jesuit and Jansenist schools. [The self-absorption of the Autobiography wouldn't fit in this discourse but many of Rousseau's other texts would] IIRC it was an abbot by the name of Duclos
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Facebook Post that Sent Me Back to Notebooks

<a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/partiallyexaminedlife/permalink/10152924849549660/">Permalink</a>

<i>The Original Post</i>
In La degree zero De L&#39;ecriture Barthes rejected the idea that clarity was the most important virtue in writing. Since the 17th Century and especially since the 1674 publication of The art Poetique by Nicholas Boileau, every pupil in every French secondary school has been made to learn Boileau&#39;s couplet:

Ce que l&#39;on con&ccedil;oit bien s&#39;&eacute;nonce clairement,
Et les mots pour le dire arrivent ais&eacute;ment.

If you think out precisely what you want to say, the words will come without delay. Barthes claims that clarity only takes on its importance as a result of the Bourgeoisie coming to power in the 17th century and in a sense, pursuit of clarity is really about intensifying a particular register in which bourgeois values communicate within the entire social body. Barthes &#39;rejection of clarity&#39; was shared with other big names like Derrida, Lacan, Levi-Strauss, and Foucault. Is this part of the source of the quarrels between analytics and continentals? Is public school dogma to blame for this problematic prose style? Did the French OVER react to the clarity dogma? Were they right about perspicacity-value being a class phenomenon?

<i>The Point Where I Come In</i>
<b>Derek Doyle</b> I think saying &#39;rationality is just a tool&#39; is a rhetorical move that minimises it and trivialises it, remember tools can be changed for other tools and can be pikced up or dropped at any moment, and so on.Isnt rationality more than a tool, and if it is a tool, whi [sic] use the word &#39;just&#39; before it? Emotion is just chemicals, consciousness is just impulses
December 27 at 7:18am &middot; Like

<b>Erik Weissengruber</b> The class argument doesn&#39;t really fly cross-europe. You can look at the rejection of older modes of elaborate rhetoric or figurative langage as a cultural politics where France extends political and cultural hegemony over Europe. French Jesuits start by displacing the rhetorical models offered by the Italian humanists, and from poetry to prose to drama, Classicism is far more an attempt to create a paradigmatic French culture than it is a &quot;rediscovery&quot; of classical models. You could do a Paul de Man and deconstruct French rationalism as an afterimage of a rhetorical style and not really an advance in logic or precision of thought. <s>Perhaps you only let yourself think that which can be put in elegant language, and not really about truths.</s>

/\ Replacement: &quot;Perhaps some people only let themselves think that which can be put in elegant language, and not really about truths.&quot;

<span style="color:#002000;">&lt;Background to my thinking: Perry Anderson&#39;s <i>Lineages of the Absolutist State</i>. Yes, cities and urban mercantile cultures grew and different kinds of intelligentsia grew in different kinds of public spheres. But Anderson plays down the extent of any &quot;middle-class&quot; reform to fundamental engines of power and wealth, for all of their cultural work. An anti-Habermas, sort of. And Arno Mayer&#39;s <i>Persistence of the Old Regime</i>: the landed and titled aristocracy of Europe kept their hands on the levers of power, administration, the military, and culture far longer and far more thoroughly than liberally- and radically- inclined historians have allowed. Plus Stuart Hall&#39;s emphasis on Foucaultian themes of discipline and power in his later Cultural Studies writing. Addressing the micro-structures of cultural institutions and their transformations in the 18th century needs to evaluate transformations in urban, literate bourgeois cultures, not track the revolutionary trajectory of some big &quot;B&quot; bourgeoisie. Didn&#39;t specify my historical sources and my response reads now as a narrow statement about writing styles.&gt;</span>

<i>Might As Well Face It: I am Addicted to Historical Irony</i>

<b>Wilson Alexander</b>: It was Rousseau who first valued sincerity over rhetoric.

<b>Erik Weissengruber</b>: [This was a red flag for me: I&#39;ve read many Modernists of a new-classical bent blame J-J.R. for starting the Romantic cult of sincerity, and conservatives in magazines and newspapers -- regardless of his erratic personality, the moralizing and search for clear, simple social relations is characteristic of his age, not a break from it. His &quot;history&quot; is a series of educative tableaux. The <i>Autobiography</i> is a different matter.]

Funny thing about the Discourse: he wrote it to win an academy&#39;s prize. And his examples of republican virtue are drawn from <s>Roman</s> Greek and Roman models. [In his response to The Encyclopedia&#39;s article on his home city] He paints Geneva as an industrious city state, with no mention of Calvinism or over 100 years of theopolitical discipline. The historical tableaux are carefully delineated to assert timeless moral virtues over the sophistication of the present. Plutarch and Cicero would have been proud. The plainness, simplicity, and clarity sought by the Voltaire and co. was exemplified in Racine and others, and taught in Jesuit and Jansenist schools. [The self-absorption of the Autobiography wouldn&#39;t fit in this discourse but many of Rousseau&#39;s other texts would] IIRC it was an abbot by the name of <s>Duclos</s> <don't and="" nearby="" notebooks="" references="" w.o.="" write=""> whose writings on style were absorbed by Hume and Hobbes <please at="" background="" from="" grad="" hand="" historical="" keep="" material="" memories="" of="" on="" rather="" reading="" reference="" relying="" school="" than="">. To bring it round to the recent &#39;casts: the 18th century discourse on the aesthetic is tied up with German and English attempts to forge orderly relationships between thinking, feeling, and representing. The dismissal of florid 17th century rhetorical style and the equation of balanced propositions and careful hypotactic organization with truthful thinking and honest expression was a commonplace before Rousseau made a name for himself. [And reverence for a classical past over the works of the moderns and their scientific and vernacular cultures? Decades of official culture prepared this sentiment.]

<i>Correction of Wildly Off-Base References</i>

<b>Erik Weissengruber</b> Just have to correct my post. The Abb&eacute; was Dubos. His 1719 writing on poetry has a bit on the psychology of the aesthetic that Hume took up. &quot;[O]ne of the greatest wants of man is to have his mind incessantly occupied. The heaviness which quickly attends the inactivity of the mind, is a situation so very disagreeable to man, that he frequently chooses to expose himself to the most painful excesses, rather than be troubled with it.&quot; A very down-to-earth psychologizing of the sublime for a cleric. His work as a historian and literary critic was admired by Voltaire. The sublime has its place to alleviate ennui, sure. But the prose writer is up to other business. Just one example of Church-affiliated writers laying the way for the Philosophes (along with Vavasseur and Rapin). Nothing like a good Jesuit education to make a thoroughgoing atheist of you, as Diderot remarked. It is the Romantic who would have philosophy subject you to terrible sublimities.

..........

I am still on the trail of the French writer who passed on a notion of the sublimity of tragedy to Hobbes. The gist of it is that one gets a strange kind of pleasure from apprehending a disaster such as a shipwreck when one is in a position of safety. The &#39;cast mentioned this during the discussion of Burke. Boileau, maybe?

..........

And the serpent eats its tail: Boileau&#39;s 1674 book has the notion of the sublime and the maxim that started the thread. I overstated the humanist vs philosopher case: Descartes&#39; writing was as influential as his thinking.

..........

And botched the historicizing of Hobbes. He does not pick up on Longinus and the sublime. In &quot;Human Nature&quot; he draws on Lucretius and our apprehension of nature&#39;s destructive power. Hobbes&#39; writings echoed in later British writing about the arts though he does not address arts directly.

..........

Sorry to have hijacked this thread, but one last note: the 18th writers on the aesthetic are participating in addressing national cultures in the vernacular. Critical examination of the arts and expression in prose is taking place with reference to a wider public and national/culture than 17th century intellectuals writing in Latin. Art -- especially drama -- is important to this project. And perhaps bringing clarity of thought and expression to wider publics.

..........

[How to avoid being absorbed by the particularities of the treatment of certain texts, and the propagation of traditions, without losing sight of the material determinants uncovered by cultural studies, and the social structures brought up by background reading mentioned above?] </please></don't>

Scattered Ideas Relating to Enlightenment


The key texts remain Horace's Art of Poetry and Aristotle's Poetics. There might be an intermittent interest in Longinus. Hobbes (and perhaps others) dabble with Lucretius on the soul's encounter with a threatening nature, kept safe by physical distance or rational comprehension of the physical threat.

There is a revision of standards for expository and artistic prose by the 17th century Latin intelligentsia. Descartes' writing is taken as a new model for thought and expression, Hobbes is a rival and critic of Descartes. Educators throughout Europe are establishing new criteria for what constitutes good thinking and good writing.

The 18th century translates many of these models criteria into vernacular languages and incorporates them into national cultural institutions, ranging from the official academies and artistic companies of absolutist France, to the reform and "improvement" of German theatre and language by Gottsched and Lessing (largely bourgeois, even if sponsored or monitored by minor aristocrats). The "National" theatre in Hamburg possesses a peculiar "nationality."

Enlightenment is entangled with a kind of Classicism. Foucault's notion of a long-enduring Classical era is becoming more persuasive to me than some punctual break between of bourgeois Enlightenment and scholastic/aristocratic Ancien Regime. At least when it comes to investigation of historically particular modes of thinking, feeling, and art making.

Language, pleasure, art, and theatre have their own genealogies distinct from but not unrelated to shifting practices and technologies of elite education and subject formation.

No More Tweets


I delinked my Twitter account from Livejournal.

The shoot-from the hip ranty quality of Twitter isn't appropriate here. I am trying to do some cogent thinking.

I won't erase the previous rantiness. But no more.

More Kant


Or "Thank You, SEP"

So, an aesthetic judgment is a kind of reflective judgment. Such a judgment has propositional content because judgment in general produces representations that have propositional content integral to them, even if they do not result in the creation of a statement. The two varieties of judgment are the aesthetic and the teleological. Appreciation of the beautiful and using an "intentional stance" to make nature intelligible are both part of the same faculty of judgment. The flux of sense data becomes subsumed under the pure concepts of understanding. It is not a matter of relating singular instances to discursive concepts.

As the SEP entry "Kant's Aesthetics and Teleology" puts it

"recent interest in the systematic role of the Critique of Judgment in Kant's philosophy overall has resulted in increased attention to the notion of judgment in the third Critique, and specifically to the question of its bearing on Kant's theory of judgment in the Critique of Pure Reason and the Logic. Bell (1987) and Ginsborg (1990) both argue for the centrality of the third Critique's notion of judgment in Kant's theory of cognitive judgments in the first Critique. The importance of the third Critique's notion of judgment for Kant's account of cognition is also highlighted in Béatrice Longuenesse's important 1998 study of the “capacity to judge” in the first Critique. Longuenesse maintains that there is a close connection between the “capacity to judge” [Vermögen zu urteilen] in that work and the faculty of judgment in the Critique of Judgment, a connection which she summarizes by describing the faculty of judgment as the “actualization” of the capacity to judge in relation to sensory perceptions (1998, 8). According to Longuenesse, the activity of reflective judgment corresponds to the “comparison, reflection and abstraction” which Kant describes in the Logic (§6, 9:94–95) as responsible for the formation of empirical concepts, and which she understands as, in turn, a necessary condition of the application of the pure concepts of understanding to the manifold of sensible intuition (1998, 163–166 and 195–197). Longuenesse's view on this point is endorsed and elaborated in Allison (2001, ch. 1); for criticism, and an alternative approach, see Ginsborg (2006)."

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-aesthetics/

And this leads me to a deeper understanding of Gadamer's argument that the aesthetic is a problematic way to approach art objects, even those objects that can be described as beautiful. Reflective judgments -- including subjective appreciation of those natural objects which fortuitously invite the observer to employ the pure concepts of understanding -- make it possible for the subject to attribute regularity to the manifold appearances of nature. The hermeneutic stance is about understanding historicity.

Even the history of pleasures or other aesthetic sensations?

The importance of the aesthetic to the (double aspected) faculty of judgment is highlighted in the SEP entry "Kant's Theory of Judgment"

"The 'reflective' interpretation of predication in a judgment, not only because it advances logically from a particular individual or narrower concept to a universal or more general concept, as, e.g., in induction or abduction (i.e., inference to the best explanation), but also because it directly invokes the cognitive subject's ability to form higher-order representations of herself via the act of reflection or Überlegung and thus to be rationally self-conscious or apperceptive (B2, A260–263/B316–319) (20: 211). In any case, we can now clearly see that, given the special roles of judgments of taste and teleological judgments in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant believes that the reflective use of judgment has an extremely important function not only in the natural sciences but also in transcendental philosophy."

The aesthetic in this system is part of appreciation of a nature and a philosophy without history or uninflected by temporality. How 18th century discourses of the aesthetics of the arts -- from Shaftesbury or from Baumgarten -- became incorporated into this transcentental philosophy is a question for intellectual history. The consequences for interpretation have been explored in Gadamer's Truth and Method. What about a reflexive application of Gadamer's hermeneutic critique of Kant's aesthetics to the whole faculty of reflective judgment and its role in natural sciences and philosophy?

Could there really be a hermeneutics of quantum gravity?

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