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A Momentary Flow

Evolving Worldviews

Culinary time travel was immortalised by Proust in the first volume of À la recherche du temps perdu, published 100 years ago last month. Like many who know Swann’s Way only by reputation, I had thought that the taste of the madeleine instantly brought vivid memories to life. In fact, what have come to be known as ‘Proustian moments’ don’t feature in the novel at all. When the narrator tastes the cake, soaked in a spoonful of tea, he experiences not a surge of memory but ‘an exquisite pleasure’ and ‘all-powerful joy’ in which ‘at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me’. He has no idea where this feeling comes from, and with each subsequent sip, he finds ‘the potion is losing its virtue’.

How food evokes the feelings of childhood – Julian Baggini – Aeon

When asked to explain the purpose of philosophy, Wittgenstein replied that the value of philosophy lies in showing the fly the way out of the bottle. The fly’s senses reveal its world to be all around it, and yet the fly cannot access that world. Instead, it keeps hitting the walls of its glass prison, not understanding the nature of the barriers to its freedom. The senses reveal so much but yet they reveal nothing at all; they tell part of the truth of the real world but not it all. The senses do not reveal the way out of the bottle, the prison of the senses, they do not show the paths to truth and freedom

What is eros? More specifically, what is the eros of philosophy and the philosopher? We commonly understand it to be a force that compels physical love, but we might also speculate as to whether eros is a force that compels philosophy, a force that is somehow outside the self, but towards which the soul can incline itself, what Socrates calls a god, a force that perhaps even compels the philosopher to leave the cave in Plato’s “Republic.” Of course, it is not at all clear how the first prisoner in the cave emancipates himself. He frees the others, but who frees him? It is unexplained in the text. Perhaps eros is the animating and primal force that shapes philosophy and moves the philosopher to break free from the cave and move towards the light. It is peculiar indeed that the enabling condition for freedom is a force that compels: a compulsion, a necessity. Unconditional freedom appears to be conditioned by what contradicts it. Eros, in making philosophy possible, somehow turns the freedom of the philosopher inside out, back to front. It is a nice, if totally incidental, peculiarity that the numerals of this year, 2013, looked at upside down, backwards and with a slight squint, spell eros (see here or here). Perhaps we can only see eros back to front, in the form of indirect communication, like a dialogue.

When Socrates Met Phaedrus: Eros in Philosophy -

Source The New York Times

Jean-Paul Sartre’s chief political fidelity was not pledged to Communism, or Marxism, or even the amorphous spirit of May ’68 (with which he was sometimes associated)—but rather to a program of constant self-revision. In a 1969 interview, Sartre provided a cheerful example of his propensity for containing disputatious multitudes. Taking stock of some of his earlier outbursts on behalf of revolutionary purism, the philosopher-novelist-playwright exclaimed: “When I read this, I said to myself: ‘It’s incredible, I actually believed that!’” In other words, Sartre demanded the freedom to be crazily wrong, and then to notice this reality according to his own timetable. Ronald Aronson, the coeditor of We Have Only This Life to Live, a new collection of Sartre’s nonfiction, writes in his introduction that Sartre was fond of “over-the-top analyses” and was continually at pains to remind the world that “situations and people can change.” They do, and one can, of course—but even fans of Sartre must grapple with the obvious flights from accuracy that crop up in his writing.

Sartre for Sartre’s Sake | Seth Colter Walls | The Baffler