The contradictions the mind comes up against—these are the only realities: they are the criterion of the real. There is no contradiction in what is imaginary. Contradiction is the test of necessity.This might shed a different light on Wittgenstein's distinction in the Tractatus between the worlds of the happy man and the sad man, or show that there are different ways of being the happy or the sad. On the one hand, the happy man might be the one who sees the world as a wondrous miracle, and the sad man the one who sees everything as awful and pointless. But on the other hand, the happy man might be the one who has accepted the tension between the two aspects (and yet sees and feels the weight of both aspects, at different times, forcefully), and the sad man the one who cannot accept this ambiguity.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Niether Duck Nor Rabbit
As a follow-up to my last post and the comments: as I was reviewing my discussion with Reshef, it occurred to me that my not knowing what the "right" response is on some nights when I stare into the vast sky and can, on the one hand, be filled with thoughts of our smallness and the seeming groundlessness of things, and then, on the other hand, with thoughts about how wondrous the whole world is--perhaps this state of not knowing, of not moving decidedly into either aspect (or way of viewing the world), is itself a "position" rather than a failure to know what the "right" position is? Perhaps this is obvious to those who have considered the issue of aspect-seeing, that the real temptation is to think that the tension between seeing things one way or another must ultimately, in all cases, be resolved. That the true "resolution" is to resolve to learn to accept certain fundamental ambiguities, to accept the tension between apparently contradictory aspects. Perhaps this is why Simone Weil says, in Gravity and Grace: