The wisest thing Yogi Berra never said was “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.”
Those who have pushed theory to its limits, and subjected all values to critical interrogation will tell you also that in theory there is no better or worse, beautiful or ugly, good or evil. Theory debunks them. They are social, psychological, philosophical phantasms, constructs, instruments of domination.
So it seems from inside what can be theorized about.
In practice, however, values are the very heart of the matter.
Theory is — and must always be — the servant of practice. When theory tries to usurp the place of practice, theory repeats Apollo’s rape of Daphne.
If you confine yourself only to what you can objectively conceptualize, explicate, reason out, argue and defend you’ll find it impossible to take many of the most important features of human life seriously.
You will gain a comprehensive objectivity at the cost of subjectivity.
But you will not even experience the loss, because, by this point, you will have come to consider subjectivity an epiphenomenon of objective processes, a species of object, an epiphenomenon of objective processes.
A subject, however, is not an object. Subject is, among many other things, objectivity.
To make an antithetical dichotomy of subject-object is to commit a category mistake.
Subject and object are not on the same order of being. Subject is the ground of object, the objectivity within which an object appears as an object among objects.
Subjectivity is our first-person participation in reality. The antithesis of subject, that against which it is defined, is not object, but rather transcendence.
The subject-object dichotomy is a nihilistic dead-end category mistake. The subject-transcendence (Within-I, beyond-I) dichotomy opens us to participation in the world among myriad objects.
Critical theory criticizes everything except theory as final arbiter of what is really real, what is apparently real and what is unreal.
But in practical life, theory plays a minor role.
Theory plays a major role only in the skull-sized kingdom of wordworld, down in the palace dungeon where the Grand Inquisitor does his work.
In the writings of a hermit one always hears something of the echo of the wilderness, something of the murmuring tones and timid vigilance of solitude; in his strongest words, even in his cry itself, there sounds a new and more dangerous kind of silence, of concealment. … The recluse … will doubt whether a philosopher can have “ultimate and actual” opinions at all; whether behind every cave in him there is not, and must necessarily be, a still deeper cave: an ampler, stranger, richer world beyond the surface, an abyss behind every ground, beneath every “foundation”. Every philosophy is a foreground philosophy — this is a recluse’s verdict: “There is something arbitrary in the fact that he came to a stand here, took a retrospect, and looked around; that he here laid his spade aside and did not dig any deeper — there is also something suspicious in it.” Every philosophy also conceals a philosophy; every opinion is also a lurking-place, every word is also a mask.
Into your eyes I looked recently, O life! And into the unfathomable I then seemed to be sinking. But you pulled me out with a golden fishing rod; and you laughed mockingly when I called you unfathomable.
“Thus runs the speech of all fish,” you said; “what they do not fathom is unfathomable. But I am merely changeable and wild and a woman in every way, and not virtuous — even if you men call me profound, faithful, eternal, and mysterious. But you men always present us with your own virtues, O you virtuous men!”
Thus she laughed, the incredible one; but I never believe her and her laughter when she speaks ill of herself.
And when I talked in confidence with my wild wisdom she said to me in anger, “You will, you want, you love — that is the only reason why you praise life.” Then I almost answered wickedly and told the angry woman the truth; and there is no more wicked answer than telling one’s wisdom the truth.
For thus matters stand among the three of us: Deeply I love only life — and verily, most of all when I hate life. But that I am well disposed toward wisdom, and often too well, that is because she reminds me so much of life. She has her eyes, her laugh, and even her little golden fishing rod: is it my fault that the two look so similar?
And when life once asked me, “Who is this wisdom?” I answered fervently, “Oh yes, wisdom! One thirsts after her and is never satisfied; one looks through veils, one grabs through nets. Is she beautiful? How should I know? But even the oldest carps are baited with her. She is changeable and stubborn; often I have seen her bite her lip and comb her hair against the grain. Perhaps she is evil and false and a female in every way; but just when she speaks ill of herself she is most seductive.”
When I said this to life she laughed sarcastically and closed her eyes. “Of whom are you speaking?” she asked; “no doubt, of me. And even if you are right — should that be said to my face? But now speak of your wisdom too.”
Ah, and then you opened your eyes again, O beloved life. And again I seemed to myself to be sinking into the unfathomable.