Smoke and Mirrors (and Philosophy)


Here’s a nice line from Lucretius in his De Rerum Natura:

For fools always have a greater admiration and liking for any idea that they see obscured in a mist of paradoxical language, and adopt as true what suceeds in prettily tickling their ears and is painted with a specious sound. (Book 1: 640.2-4)

The target is Heraclitus, but it made me chuckle for a few reasons. Not least in the context of “bloggery.” Or in the context of Mikhail’s recent post about philosophy as a written or oral medium. In the comments to that post, I think there was talk to the effect that if Derrida didn’t feel the need to publish everything he wrote, we’d be better off.

Anyway, the passage made me chuckle (out loud no less) this morning.  That’s good.

Oh, yes.  And there is the bit in which Lucretius refers to Heraclitus’ “unitarianism” as nothing less than “harebrained lunacy.”  We’re far too thin-skinned to talk like this today, I would imagine.  Though I do seem to remember someone telling me that Catherine Pickstock once referred to theology in America as a “vast wasteland.”  Not that such things really concern me, but nice, indeed.