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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Not so unkind thought

from bbc.co.uk

Following on from yesterday, this is Santayana doing literary philosophy - approaching a subject with which we are very familiar, but in a non-analytical way. We compose plausible stories to make sense of what we see and in the relevance and moral sense of our stories we find our values and our inspirations.

I watch a pair of lovers ; and it requires no preternatural insight for me to see whether the love is genuine, whether it is mutual, whether it is waxing or waning, irritable or confident, sensual or friendly. 

I may make it the nucleus of a little novel in my own mind ; and it will be a question of my private fancy and literary gift whether I can evolve language and turns of sentiment capable of expressing all the latent dispositions which the behaviour of those lovers, unconscious of my observation, suggested to me. 

Have I read their minds ? Have I divined their fate ? 

It is not probable ; and yet it is infinitely probable that minds and fates were really evolving there, not generically far removed from those which I have imagined.

George Santayana - Scepticism and Animal Faith

8 comments:

Sam Vega said...

"it requires no preternatural insight for me to see whether the love is genuine, whether it is mutual, whether it is waxing or waning, irritable or confident, sensual or friendly."
It would do so outside a very narrow range of cultural practices and signs. I doubt if Santayana would have the same success in the harem, or among the Trobriand Islanders.

The term "infinitely probable" rings alarm bells. It might mean absolute certainty, but without the confidence to say so. Presumably, unless something is definitely not the case, then it is infinitely probable.

A K Haart said...

Sam - Santayana already knows they are lovers, that's a given. Where did harems spring from though? Owner or member? Either way I didn't have you down as a Lib Dem.

Sam Vega said...

"Owner or member?"

Timeshare, now lapsed....

Yes, the latest Lib Dem news is brilliant, isn't it? Just when I thought it couldn't get any better...

A K Haart said...

Sam - yes, too delicious. I hope the Lib Dems lose the seat buy a handful of votes - the recriminations would be a delight.

Roger said...

I'll give it a year.

A K Haart said...

Roger - a whole year? At least it's a year of fun and games to enjoy.

James Higham said...

With Sam here on "infinitely probable".

A K Haart said...

James - I think "infinitely probable" is his way of expressing certainty in that there are interpersonal situations where we know the range of possibilities.