Colin's Daily Log

Sometimes these log entries will be short.

Tue Oct 12 16:12:01 2021

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is when you notice something once and then, suddenly, seem to notice it over and over again "everywhere you look". That's happening to me right now in my reading.

I am book hopping, reading in a noncommittal mode, around topics of agency, aesthetic experience, value acquisition, virtue ethics, and confrontation with nihilism. What I encounter again and again is something like this: value follows experience, which means value is not formulaic, because experience is infinitely varied.

This idea is both obvious and radical, depending on how seriously you take it and how liberally it spreads.

Virtues, for example, are imperfectly enacted by aspirants, and pursuing them is the only way to perfect them (or not).

Art can be seen as anti-experience, as a way to train the human to value something other than what is real. This is a John Zerzan notion. Making art is about making culture, that is, asserting in a way "this is an example of what is good, of what a good human can be like - and therefore, also, what a bad human can be like"; a notion that crops variously up in both Sartre and Nietzsche. Art is a way to "fix" value, and culture creates an "otherworld" that divorces us slightly from the real world, so does language, so do all symbols. Zerzan thinks this is bad, I guess. Schopenhauer might not see it that way - rather, it might be a bold act of resistance to the Will that drives and acts with us, everything, as its implements.

Nietzsche has a muddier collection of thoughts in this direction. And the troubled quality of Nietzsche's picture is, I feel I must point out, pedagogical. The ascetic ideal, in N's view, is that habit of life that clings to some eternal fixed value or meaning, a habit that is "grounded" in some "faith" in an "other world" as opposed to this one. Afterlife? The world of culture? The platonic world of ideal forms? Yes probably.

The point is that value follows experience; you have to exercise experience to create, and therefore to affirm or perceive or know or believe in, value.

...Wed Oct 13, 021 →

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