Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quotes of the day

I was slightly surprised by the source. I'm not sure why—probably some stereotype I imbibed about what the "Left" is supposed to look like.
I think people should be extremely skeptical when intellectual life constructs structures which aren't transparent—because the fact of the matter is that in most areas of life, we just don't understand anything very much. There are some areas, like say, quantum physics, where they're not faking. But most of the time it's just fakery, I think: anything that's at all understood can probably be described pretty simply. And when words like "dialectics" come along, or "hermeneutics," and all this kind of stuff that's supposed to be very profound, like Goering, "I reach for my revolver."
There are parts of philosophy which I think I understand, and it's most of classical philosophy. And there are things that I don't understand, because they don't make any sense—and that's okay too, these are hard questions. I mean, it's not necessarily a criticism to say that something doesn't make sense: there are subjects that it's hard to talk sensibly about. But if I read, say, Russell, or analytic philosophy, or Wittgenstein and so on, I think I can come to understand what they are saying, and I can see why I think it's wrong, as I often do. But when I read, you know, Derrida, or Lacan, or Althusser, or any of these—I just don't understand it. It's like words passing in front of my eyes: I can't follow the arguments, I don't see the arguments, anything that looks like a description of a fact looks wrong to me. So maybe I'm missing a gene or something, it's possible. But my honest opinion is, I think it's all a fraud.

 —Noam Chomsky. (Chomsky, Noam, Peter R. Mitchell, and John Schoeffel. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky. New York: New Press, 2002. First quote: Kindle Loc. 5406-10. Second quote: Kindle Loc. 5433-39)

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