On Description & Explanation

“One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be – though possibly a colored canvas and a sheet of notes will remain – because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone.” – Spengler, Decline of the West

“Suddenly all those individuals who yesterday felt that "we" meant only their families, their professions, or perhaps their communities, become men of the nation. Their emotions and thoughts, their egos, that "something" within them, all are transformed: they have become historical.” – Spengler, Decline of the West

11. Accurate description is the revelation of character without explanation, theory, or justification. 

12. A story is a theory of why something happened, the descriptions being pawns in a series of causes and effects. Man looks for the story beyond the description; he makes description into something ornamental and secondary. He can no longer see the connections made by accurate descriptions set alongside each other (the blindness of autism).

15. ¨Philosophers constantly see the method of science before their eyes, and are irresistibly tempted to ask and answer questions in the way science does. This tendency is the real source of metaphysics, and leads the philosopher into complete darkness.¨ – Wittgenstein

16. The criticism that description cannot stand on its own is nonsense. Man has been so conditioned by theory that he remarks: ¨But there was no story.¨ He cannot accept that character produced from accurate description comes from nowhere.

17. A story is a craving for generality. The darkness of this age is that story is looked to for revelation rather than character.

21. The Greek fascination with tragedy was the fascination with justice: a rightness of conduct which could not be made legible by the laws of the State, that even ran contrary to those laws. A rightness of conduct that men felt but could not make legible. Tragedy: the confrontation of purity in character with the historical argument of law; an insoluble confrontation.

24. The question is two part: Whether one can accurately understand the development in ancient Greece from a making of poetry about the world to a scientific breaking it down into law (both natural and moral/state), and, secondly, with this understanding, whether someone captured and enthralled by science and the state, born into it, can walk himself back into poetry. Can this development be undone?

29. The bourgeois attitude in philosophy is that which accepts implicitly the structures and confines set up by legibility: the subject-object dichotomy; the responsibility of the individual; the protection racket of the State; the written word; Reason and explanation; the tyranny of science; the naming and the breaking down of the world into elements. These bourgeois philosophers are dependents of the state and its program of scientific legibility and so are unwilling or unable to see outside it. Their work only confirms the State, making it an a priori assumption about life.

38. Even descriptions are shot through today with implied explanation. No one takes an accurate description seriously – it cannot stand on its own. They would ask for something more. It must be combined in narrative and made reasonable: things held together in the world by a string of arguments, equations and stories. Man sets out to prove that ¨everything happens for a reason.¨

41. In a scientific age, tragedy becomes impossible. The last eye and ear accessible to its message has gone.

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