It’s Hard to Forgive Others for Being Like Ourselves

For Kundera the way to overcome the urge to domination is to realize that everybody has and always will have this urge, but to insist that nobody is more or less justified in having it than anyone else. Nobody stands for the Truth, or for Being, or for Thinking. Nobody stands for anything Other or Higher. We all just stand for ourselves, equal inhabitants of a paradise of individuals in which everybody has the right to be understood but nobody has the right to rule.

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Elements of what we call language penetrate [so] deeply into what we call reality that the very project of representing ourselves as being mappers of something language-independent is fatally compromised from the start.

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Accept the position that we are fated to occupy [. . .] the position of being beings who cannot have a view of the world that does not reflect our interests and values.

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Like relativism, but in a different way, Realism is an impossible attempt to view the world from nowhere.

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[All of the above are Richard Rorty quotes]

No Such Thing as Language

We should realize that we have abandoned not only the ordinary notion of a language, but we have erased the boundary between knowing a language and knowing our way around the world generally. For there are no rules for arriving at passing theories that work. . . . There is no more chance of regularizing, or teaching, this process than there is of regularizing or teaching the process of creating new theories to cope with new data — for that is what this process involves.

There is no such thing as language, not if a language is anything like what philosophers, at least, have supposed. There is therefore no such thing to be learned or mastered. We must give up the idea of a clearly defined shared structure which language users master and then apply to cases . . . We should give up the attempt to illuminate how we communicate by appeal to conventions.

— Donald Davidson, from “A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs”

Language is Language

Language itself is — language and nothing else besides. Language itself is language. The understanding that is schooled in logic, thinking of everything in terms of calculation and hence usually overbearing, calls this proposition an empty tautology. Merely to say the identical twice — language is language — how is that supposed to get us anywhere? But we do not want to get anywhere. We would like only, for once, to get to just where we already are.

–Martin Heidegger, “Language”
[Translated by Albert Hofstadter]