From Zwicky’s Lyric Philosophy

A series of passages from Zwicky’s Lyric Philosophy isolates the central problem I have had with Rorty, and with other thinkers I have admired, who live such an academically-conditioned existence that they have lost contact with the tacit world, and inhabit instead what I have called “wordworld“. Such people are so verbal they have lost themselves in the language game, like we lose ourselves in a book or a movie or an ideology.

What does it take to call us back to the reality of ourselves and to what transcends our language? And how do we — as whole-beinged beings — experience this calling back from linguistic play. How do we react to this unchaining of our heads and bodies, this invitation to freedom from the sedentary linguistic metaverse?

Here are the passages:

§ 226 – L

Nor is the world coaxed into being by communities of the like.

Community is made possible by the world we share.


§ 226 – R

Richard Rorty:

To drop the idea of languages as representations, and to be thoroughlyWittgensteinian in our approach to language, would be to de-divinise the world…

On the view I am suggesting, the claim that an ‘adequate’ philosophy must make room for our intuitions is a reactionary slogan, one which begs the question at hand. For it is essential to my view that we have no pre-linguistic consciousness to which language needs to be adequate, no deep sense of how thmgs are which it is the duty of philosophers to spell out in language. Rather, all we have is a disposition to use the language of our ancestors, to worship the corpses of their metaphors. Unless we suffer from what Derrida calls ‘Heideggerian nostalgia’, we shall not think of our ‘intuitions’ as more than platitudes, as more than the habitual use of a certain repertoire of terms, more than old tools which as yet have no modern replacements.

Ludwig Wittgenstein:

Just try — in a real case — to doubt someone else’s fear or pain.


§ 227 – L

Skepticism, seen from a lyric perspective, is loss of the world via language. To become lost in language, and thereby to have lost the world.

§ 263 – L

In Rorty’s view, Bloom’s ‘strong poet’ accepts that system ultimately holds the key to meaning, and hence accepts that the collapse of system shows the futility of asserting that anything is meaningful. Unless this is intended merely as a definition of ‘strong poet’, my sense is that there are at least some ‘strong poets’ who would reject this characterization of their enterprise (as well as the imperialism implicit in Bloom’s original). Their ‘realism’ is not naive — they accept that perception can be conditioned by a variety of biological and cultural factors, and they have grasped at least some of the consequences of the failure of systematic ‘objective’ explanations fully to house truth. However, their ‘realism’ is real in the sense that they affirm the possibility of meaning; and further, believe that it is not something which is entirely intra-linguistic.

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