A city in thought

my blog on this that and everything else


By |January 14th, 2015|

A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that is unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.
– Ludwig Wittgenstein

nosce te ipsum…

By |January 14th, 2015|

The old woman gives you a cookie and points to the cross-stiched sign that hangs above the kitchen door.

“It means, ‘Know Thyself'”, she says, drawing a cigarette from the pack she pulls from her apron pocket.

“The thing is,” she pauses to strike a match, lighting her cigarette, inhaling slowly, “you never know, do you?”. She exhales, the smoke casting a blue aura over the kitchen table at which she has seated herself heavily.

You blink, look away, out the open kitchen window. The sunlight casting slight shadows on the old sink and floor through the whisps of smoke. “Why am I here?”

“Ahh, yes well. If I told you that, you’d already know, wouldn’t you?”

You look at her, a confused line crossing your face.

She leans back in her chair and looks up at you. “So why are you here?”

“I don’t know. I don’t remember. I was walking down the street, walking home. […]

Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected…

By |January 14th, 2015|

For as much as a year Satan continued these visits, but at last he came less often, and then for a long time he did not come at all. This always made me lonely and melancholy. I felt that he was losing interest in our tiny world and might at any time abandon his visits entirely. When one day he finally came to me I was overjoyed, but only for a little while. He had come to say good-by, he told me, and for the last time. He had investigations and undertakings in other corners of the universe, he said, that would keep him busy for a longer period than I could wait for his return.

“And you are going away, and will not come back any more?”

“Yes,” he said. “We have comraded long together, and it has been pleasant – pleasant for both; but I must go now, and we […]

A city in thought…

By |January 13th, 2015|

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates proposes that, to pass the time, they bring into being a “city in thought.” What follows is nothing less than that to which all future philosophy is but a series of footnotes. This is an attempt to reconstruct a history of political, social and economic thought, presented as a series of footnotes to Plato, the intended effect is to bring the reader to see the progress of the history of ideas as being a part of an ongoing conversation — a dialog — with Plato and all who followed down through the ages to present day.

The history of ideas is, in this way, a dialogical phenomenon, but it is also itself a “city in thought”. A city in thought perhaps, but in the perspective of the present such a city is, to borrow Alberto Manguel’s phrase, a city of words. We do not merely engage in conversation with the […]

Rousseau’s Platonic Point

By |January 12th, 2015|

Rousseau’s point, in his Discourse on Inequality, is that the desire of amor propio, the desire the be esteemed and recognized and have your values respected and esteemed by those around you, is in fact a violent and uncontrollable passion. This passion is much like Plato’s use of the Greek thumos, or anger; the passion that makes us burn with anger over perceived slights, and which drives us to sometimes risk our lives and even those of others to rectify what we perceive to be acts of injustice. And like Plato, Rousseau is interested in whether this passion may be redirected to the service of the public good by bringing it under the control of reason and compassion, or love, or perhaps empathy; to make Pride the servant of Virtue. Yet, despite such noble motives, we must remember history, and the consequences of righteous pride. We must remember why wise men […]