17 June 2013: Muss ess Sein? Ess Muss Sein!, or, Das Ist Moose Turd Pie

First thing 20 mn workout, just 150 supine pullups and 150 steps. This morning’s congee perfect, hot, unsweetened, fluffy.

Sunny then rainy then sunny morning.

Making more progress on Kant. Outlined the most difficult part of the Critique, his “Analytic of Concepts” in which he proposes to show that “concepts” are inescapably formed after intuition and allow us to understand later manifestations.

Kant is on strange territory. He isn’t saying that humans have the architecture of pure reason that he describes as an empirical accident that he discovered like Doctor Frankenstein in his lab. Nor can he prove it using math and logic for this would prove only a tautology.

To “prove” his architectonic he has to show by means of transcendent arguments that there exists no alternative to his minimal architecture.

Now, “there is no alternative” (Kant’s contemporary Beethoven’s epigram on Beethoven’s score of his last quartet, muss ess sein ess muss sein) is STRONGER than an empirical truth and STRONGER in the sense of telling us more than an analytic a priori.

Kant’s architectonic is meant to be so thought through that on understanding it his reader would like he say ess muss sein: it must be. He wouldn’t continue to say muss ess sein which is a question. The possibility of any alternative is disproved in the synthetic a priori.

There is a dangerous self-confidence here and a certain smugness; in Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt relates that Adolf Eichmann had studied the Critique in school and had, he claimed, ordered his ethical life around that text and Kant’s ethical work. The Categorical Imperative is a bit too abstract, for Eichmann’s response to “what if everybody did this” would be “great, the world would be Juden rein faster”. Everybody makes claims, but it takes a German like Kant to make them with what would seem like arrogance…if we hadn’t read his biography and understood the position of philosophy in Kant’s nation at the end of the 18th century.

It’s like the old joke which can be used to teach the Critique. Four guys go camping and hunting. They rotate the job of cook. But when the job comes to Guy #4, he doesn’t want it. Therefore he finds a great big turd as are dropped by Moose.

He bakes it in a nice pie shell made out of dough with just the right amount of sugar. He curly-crinks the edges of the crust around the great dark browned pie.

He serves the pie for dinner.

The largest and ugliest guy picks up his dessert plate and with thoughtful deliberation takes a nice big bite of the pie which as you will recall is made principally out of moose turd.

The Largest and ugliest guy thoughtfully takes a few byte and announces in a loud voice MY GOD THAT IS MOOSE TURD PIE. (If he were Kant he would say MEINE GOTT DAS IST MOOSE SCHEISSE).

But then he says “GOOD, THOUGH”.

In the silence that follows your telling of this joke, which is not intended to elicit laughter although it may, explain that on tasting the pie, the large guy had a sensation, and then an intuition and then the Concept of Moose Turd Pie. He had the concept having unlike most people tasted Moose Turd Pie before. If he hadn’t he could form the concept out of the concept Pie and the concept Moose Turd.

But suppose he hadn’t tasted or smelled pure (reine) Moose Turd before. He would form a singular concept out of (1) pie and (2) novel taste to get to Novel Tasting Pie.


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