Monday, 12 February 2018

All in the game

     Many a tear has to fall
     But it's all in the game

     The play's the thing wherein
     I'll catch the conscience of the king

     They think it's all over...
     It is now!


     Only a game?
     Remember what Wittgenstein said — think of all the things we call 'games'. That was about the endless variety of language games, and also by implication how 'bad examples nourish bad philosophy' (thinking too narrowly, being overly selective in your examples to bolster your case).
     Then what do I mean? I know what I mean and I'll leave you to guess!
     The ultimate game: me and reality, one-on-one. Or me and the evil demon. Same difference:

This isn't about a Berkeleian virtual reality game, the conjurer behind the scenes tirelessly (reliably) keeping up appearances, for no purpose (the demiurge of nature). When I picture the evil demon, I imagine all the eyes and faces of all the people who have ever existed. The others. No sacred Other, no partner in ethical dialogue, no Thou (nor an It), just all of you.

(Hedgehog Philosopher Day 22)


     No more will I judge myself through the eyes of others. 'O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us./ To see oursels as ithers see us!/ It wad frae mony a blunder free us.' Others are useful. They notice things that you might have missed. (For example, a louse, in Rabbie Burns' famous poem.) So, of course, you need others for that extra perspective that a mirror won't necessarily give you.
     For me, this is all water under the bridge. In Metaphysics of Meaning and also in Naive Metaphysics I contrasted recognition of the 'authority of the other' with the mere use of others as my measuring instruments — the way you use a thermometer, or a ruler, or a microcope as a source of information about the world, including information about yourself. I said then that the very possibility of truth presupposes acknowledgement that the other potentially has the power to override my judgements. That was my take on Wittgenstein's argument against a private language. It seemed convincing at the time.
     But now truth is out the window. That's what I mean.
     Truth is what 'they' believe, or what is 'to be believed' (which amounts to the same thing). Truth is merely the asymptotic point of convergence. Playing the language game by the agreed rules. I'm past that now.
     This is what freedom looks like. It's not a cliché. You have to be alive to every possibility, not just those on offer, the ones handed to you on a plate. It's not easy thinking sideways, upside down, every which way except the straight and narrow. (The road they want you to go along.)
     I'm not seeking approval for what I do. But I like to see my actions having effects. Who doesn't? I would like more people to read my books, my blogs, etc. Who wouldn't? That's the game this is, or one of the games at any rate.
     How high you can 'score'.
     But ultimately that's a side issue, mere entertainment. Like looking at funny cats on Facebook.
     As stated in the Dedication to Philosophizer (Black Edition) — This is 'For Myself'.
     What egomaniac dedicates a book to himself? You misunderstand me. I am simply recovering what is mine. The people I care for, or the things I care about, that's my affair not yours. And I do care about you, even though we've never met. I want you to see what I see.
     I want you to free yourself.
     Of course, one can see the logical thread going through all of this. (Truth depends on such-and-such, but no such-and-such, therefore no 'truth', etc.) But I am past logic too. Or, rather, there are many kinds of 'logic' just as there are many kinds of game. 'The hardness of the logical must' (Wittgenstein). It all boils down to a subjective sense of the compelling. We are all more or less in line with regard to 'the compelling'. Or, we're not. Both alternatives apply. Wittgenstein couldn't disagree with that.
     The 'whirl of organism' (Stanley Cavell). Yes, I can see how that fits too.
     Like the two readings of Hume: the internal (the system of 'ideas' and 'impressions') and the external (doing a Newton on the 'laws of human nature').
     I could go through a whole list of philosophers, but why bother? Sartre, for example, and his Parmenidean 'In Itself'. Why does he hang on to that archaic notion? Because he thinks he must be doing something ontological! Didn't you hear? Ontology is dead, man. You can't do ontology if nothing exists!
     The air is so pure and clean up here. Looking down, down on the clouds. (One of my earliest memories, watching an endless carpet of clouds inch by from the window of a turbo-prop aeroplane, the sound of the engines throbbing in my ears.)
     But like many moves in philosophy, you realize that at the same time that when everything changes, it can seem like nothing has really changed. 'It is as if before everything was up and now everything is down.' (Quoting from myself, long ago.)
     If this was the equivalent of The Truman Show (1998) you wouldn't see any change in my behaviour (apart from the words appearing here). Or, maybe, if and when you do, there will be a hundred different possible 'explanations'. What specific actions are explained by the heavy weight of self doubt or even bad conscience lifted from one's shoulders? All sorts!
     — This is just the beginning. Now let's follow the expanding ripples, the line of falling dominoes. The virus of radical freedom, once it takes hold, infects everything.

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