“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Realist Magic Liveblog 13

I had an insight this morning. It was about writing philosophy books. I was surprised to discover myself writing them starting with Ecology without Nature, but I guess it's what I love to do.

Now Realist Magic was a deliberately planned philosophy book from the get go. And what I realized is that your sense of your audience causes you to want to write as rigorously as possible. Of course there has to be rigor and good arguments. But you can easily become defensive. This can lead you to become brittle. Which can lead to your arguments being easier to snap, ironically.

It's living proof that there is no metalanguage. The more you hedge your argument about with defenses, the more enmeshed in a brittle structure you become. I can see how easily it happens and I can see how it works in some of the Analytic books I'm reading right now. Soon there is no breathing room.

1 comment:

Bill Benzon said...

You can't DICTATE your audience's reaction to what you write. You HAVE to trust them. Any attempt to limit their interpretive choices by piling argument upon argument upon meta-argument to show them that you are always already one step ahead of them, will fail. Because it will reveal to them, if not to you, that they can, by an easy act of will, always already be one step ahead of you. Always.

So, yeah, there's no closure by going meta.