November 30, 2004
Every once in a while, Texas in the 21st century seems a long way from the vinous Cambridge evenings of one's intense, eagerly-scholarly youth. Keith Burgess-Jackson, trained in philosophy and law and a most reliable blogger in the opinion of Good&Happy, links to a lecture by the British psychologist Liam Hudson, The Life of the Mind, discussing the virtue of boundaries in our personal and professional enterprises, and the value of having significant symbolic conversations across them.
The Life of the Mind describes both the topic of the paper, and the experience of settling down to read it. Aaaaahhh, like a hot meal well-set before a lit hearth on a snowy night with good company....And yet, I love it here in the Sun Belt. It's just good to have this world-wide access to well-tuned thought. There's something about the widely cultivated and confidently learned like Hudson, so learned that he wears his pithy learning with offhand style; so earnest that he drills long, without apology, into fine distinctions.
With gratitude for the magnificent library of Tanner Lectures at the University of Utah.
Not only do we undermine our own best efforts; we organise and operate our institutions in ways that ensure that these efforts are undermined.
“The world I am trying to understand,” said the economic theorist Albert Hirschman, “is one in which men think they want one thing and then upon getting it, find out to their dismay that they don’t want it nearly as much as they thought or don’t want it at all and that something else, of which they were hardly aware, is what they really want."
...Men are inadequate to what Stoller once called “the rigours of intimacy.”
and, most provocative,
Hardly any of us achieve what A. O. Hirschmann has recently called “Selfsubversion”: the freedom to shift our ground when reality reveals itself in an unexpected light.” It is no disaster to have a hobby-horse disappear from beneath you. On the contrary: it is a prior condition of getting somewhere worth getting that such disappearances should occur.