[lit-ideas] Re: Mit mir nur rat ich, red ich zu dir

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 09:50:47 +0100

It hasn't been claimed, on my part, that all metaphysical statements are
unfalsifiable. There is a logical and practical difference between 'some'
and 'all.' Among those some that are unfalsifiable we find "Das Nicht
nichtet," which on a charitable reading turns out to be tautological and
hence irrefutable, and "There are natural laws" which is a positive
existential statement and hence unfalsifiable.

Leibnitz's claim that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds
*may* be falsifiable or refutable but presumably this cannot be done by
exposing the evil in the world, as Voltaire does in Candide, because these
are empirical and not metaphysical observations. It is not clear though
what is meant by "the best" and whether this is not too subjective an
evaluation to be refuted.


On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 9:26 AM, Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>  Two claims were made to the effect that metaphysical statements are
> “useless”, “senseless”, or according to some “non falsifiable”, the
> silliest ones are those who claim that there is some “violation” of maxims,
> grammars and assorted junk.
> So, consider an easy case, which arguably is beyond doubt metaphysical.
> Leibniz claimed, actually, twice, that the actual world is the best of any
> particular other one and of the totality of possible worlds not severally
> taken.
> (you have traces in monadology and in the version of theocidees)
> Now can this be falsified? I fail to see why not. In fact there are two
> wasy.
> 1.     Is historical, namely take a time slice of actuality, fix one
> parameter of what you take improvement and you get an order of goodness
> out of it, hence the actual world or wold slice is not the best
> 2.     Deny that goodness is anywhere, hence *all* worlds are equally bad
> or good since such moral predicates do not apply to any one of the possible
> world
> 3.     The cheap shot approach (Candide): there is Heidegger,
> earthquakes, hitler, lady gaga hence there can be a world devoid of
> Heidegger, lady gaga since it is not inconsistent to eliminate
> buttmann/Heidegger, his wife, his children, lady gaga, his students,
> imbecils assorted und so weiter. Hence the actual is not the best, we can
> have betterments.
> We have both truth conditions and possible refutations.
> Now immediately will be told that the “best of all” is not a metaphysical
> statement, there you’ll see immediately the deep profound mental bankruptcy
> of these so called theories with “language maxims” “criteria of
> rationality” and similar anglo teutonic junk.
> *From:* lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:
> lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] *On Behalf Of *Omar Kusturica
> *Sent:* 24 February 2015 10:08
> *To:* lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> *Subject:* [lit-ideas] Re: Reading Heidegger
> See you soon.
> Omar
> On Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 6:33 PM, <cblists@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
> One of the best things that I have read about Heidegger's 'obscurity' is
> the following:
> "Then again, there is the matter of Heidegger's famous 'obscurity', which
> would seem to require that special comment be made upon him.  A great deal
> of this 'obscurity' is a matter of translation, and disappears when
> Heidegger is read in German.  To be sure, his German is at times a very
> highly individualized vehicle of expression: Heidegger does coin his own
> terms when he has to, and usually these are coinings that stick very close
> to the etymological roots of German.  Heidegger thinks very much within the
> matrix of the German language, and his expressions hugs the particularity
> of this language to its bosom.  All of this makes for difficulty in
> translation . . . .  [I]f we compare Heidegger with two classical German
> philosophers, like Kant or Hegel, his sentences are remarkably compact and
> incisive, his expression notably terse.  Very often, in reading Hegel, we
> get the feeling . . . that the philosopher is deliberately willing to be
> obscure.  One never gets this impression from Heidegger: he is struggling
> to communicate, and his command of his own means of communication is
> powerful and impressive.  The difficulty comes, rather, from the obscurity
> of the matter with which Heidegger is grappling.
> "That there are obscure matters at all in our experience is a contention
> that rubs against the prejudice of some positivistic philosophers that
> whatever cannot be said clearly and distinctly cannot be said at all and
> the effort to say it can only result in 'meaningless' verbalism.  Every
> philosopher, in this view, ought to be able to express himself with the
> simple-minded clarity of, say, Bertrand Russell.  and if the philosopher
> does not do this, it is a clear sign of intellectual incompetence.  All
> this, of course, is oversimplified psychologizing.  A philosopher may be
> quite capable of mastering one or the other of the clear and distinct
> dialects of philosophy and bouncing the ball of dialectic deftly back and
> forth across the net; but he may be drawn by other subject matters into
> following a quite different path in philosophy.  From the point of view of
> a philosopher like Heidegger there are parts of our experience that
> ordinary language finds itself hard put to express, if it can express these
> matters at all; indeed, this ordinary language seems to have been formed
> out a kind of conspiracy to cover over or forget these parts of experience
> altogether."
> - William Barrett in his introduction to the 'Phenomenology and
> Existentialism' section of William Barrett and Henry D. Aiken, eds.,
> _Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: An Anthology_, (New York: Random
> House, 1962); Vol. 3, pp. 152-3.
> I can attest to Barrett's claims about reading Heidegger 'in the
> original', and indeed would go farther than he does. I do not claim that
> one cannot come to some understanding of Heidegger's thought, or critique
> his views in interesting and insightful ways, without reading him in
> German.  But I will say categorically and unequivocally: if you have not
> read Heidegger in German, you have not read Heidegger.
> - Chris Bruce
> Kiel, Germany
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