Two unresolved questions (20 OCT 2005)

1. What cannot be doubted after recent developments in narrative theory and moral philosophy is that practices require ethical commitment. In other words, human conduct is an essentially ethical affair, not only in the intersubjective or political sense, but in one’s fidelity to oneself. Practices (performing music, skateboarding, reading, gardening, even having friendships) require historical awareness. But what remains to be accounted for is that practices also require passion.

2. I tried to give an account of the so-called “history of philosophy” recently. Things got complicated around Descartes, but things just exploded after Kant and I had to give it up when the idea that part of philosophy’s definition involves questioning that very definition (or: philosophy is critique) becomes inescapable. I’m not so sure that such a definition uniquely signifies philosophy (why not art, for example), but perhaps that is not the right criterion. Why must a definition pick something out uniquely? Philosophy, as we well know, has no utility. This was a mistake in philosophy of language, too: that a definition or language use required that words signify uniquely. So too in metaphysics: we can no longer assume the =x or =1.

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