Saturday, March 21, 2009

Solid Ground

While watching a film with one of my favorite actors--certainly not the kind of film I would have watched were it not for this actor (though my purpose here has nothing to do with the actor or the film)--I began to wonder, of his character, "Why does he care? This hocus-pocus that he's chasing, why doesn't he just let it alone? Why does he have to know?" Then I remembered something: the character was once a detective. And that pretty much solves the riddle. For asking why a detective has to "get the straight" is like asking why a philosopher--the old, the true philosopher who follows, not Kant and Hegel, not Russell and Carnap, but Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle--it is like asking a philosopher why he seeks the truth. The answer is in his very nature. If you were to ask Socrates, "Why, O bald-headed, pug-nosed Athenian, why do you seek Truth?" "Why," Socrates would answer, "because it is true!" Similarly, he who has "detectiveness" in his nature will seek the story, the explanation for whatever event he finds himself in, simply because that's what a detective does. Not only does he try to unravel mystery, he is in fact a mystery to himself: he does not know why he does what he does--it is satisfying enough just to know that it's what he's supposed to do. The philosopher must not ask "why truth?"--he must seek it. The detective must not ask "why the facts?"--he must find them. Either must stand on the solid ground of his existence, must presuppose it, so that he may realize and acquire what remains to be found.

It becomes necessary, in all reasoning, to stand on solid ground at some point. One cannot go on explaining forever, because eventually explanation itself will be called in to question; inquiry will try to step outside of itself and ask what inquiry is, but, because it made that detachment, has lost the very ability to inquire. First causes, absolute truths--they exist. They must necessarily exist. They are the ground of all reason, of all discourse. On a journey, if I have no point of origin, I do not know how far I have come; I could not really call it a journey either. If where I am is not predicated on where I was, where I am means nothing. If words are detached from their origins in reality, they lost all meaning.

I'll probably talk about this more later on. Suffice it to say, relativism, in all its forms, is the epitome of bullshittery.

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