Wednesday, April 22, 2009

James and Rawls, Pangrammaticists

"The true, to put it very briefly, is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as the right is only the expedient in the way of our behaving." (William James)

"Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is the first virtue of systems of thought." (John Rawls)

I would like to say that truth is a rightness in the way of belief, and justice is a rightness in the way of desire. Justice is the virtue of institutions, I agree; but truth is the correlative virtue of intuitions. If truth is the expedient in the way of thought, and I will grant that it may well be, then justice (arguably "the right") is the expedient in the way of feeling. The former is supported by the precision of our concepts, the latter by the precision of our emotions.

As to the way we behave, yes, we may in that regard be right or wrong, and, when this rightness or wrongness is conditioned by institutional factors, I will grant that that right is just and wrong is not. Truth, likewise, is the rightness of our beholding when such beholding is conditioned by intuition.

[Update: all behaviour is conditioned by institutions. And there can be no beholding without intuition. But they can be, as it were, "barely" conditioned. We might perhaps talk of "unbound" behaviour and beholding: actions that lack any immediate motive, beholdings that don't immediately make sense.]


Presskorn said...

This is one of the better statements of your pangrammaticism. Nevertheless, and do forgive me if I'm being stupid after all these years of visiting The Pangrammaticon, what is pangrammaticism really all about? Are your pangrammatical homologies descriptions of how concepts are actually (roughly) used? Or are they pieces of constructive philosophy? Are they are 'true' in some sense or are they just to be deconstructed by some further analysis?

I find your pangrammatical homologies quite convincing and yet I am in doubt of what they actually are?

One thing, I'd like them to be is perspicuous presentations of how different concepts relate, but is that all (or less) there is to them?

Thomas Basbøll said...

Thanks. I am in doubt too. Always have been. They are not descriptions of concepts or their use. They can't be because "description" and "concept" can be used pangrammatically ("use" perhaps not). They are pangrammatically instructive uses of words.

I'm not even sure we can call them distinctinctly "philosophical" remarks. Sometimes an arrangement of homologies are more like poetry than philosophy. That is, the reading experience is primarily emotional, not conceptual. Their first virtue, as it were, is sometimes not clarity but intensity.

Presskorn said...

Hmmm... I like the instructive use of words idea... Perhaps more later...