Farrell's Guide to Authenticity. Don't believe your own bullshit. Laugh at it...
The sense of the world must lie outside the world...What we cannot speak about we must remain silent about...What can be described can happen too, and what is excluded by the laws of causality cannot be described -- Wittgenstein
A good guide will take through the more important streets more often than he takes you down side streets; a bad guide will do the opposite. In philosophy I'm a rather bad guide. -- Wittgenstein
There's a great article about Wittgenstein and the problems of authenticity in The NY Times Series The Stone this morning. It got me thinking.
Damned authenticity! It roughly means, for me, the 1=1 congruence of thought, action, belief, speech, dreams and prayers. It's bloody near impossible, because nothing is really congruent. As a born, baptized, educated and apostate Roman Catholic, it is similar to things like being in a state of grace or "making a good act of contrition." If I confess the sin of anger -- a sin I'm really, really proficient at -- to make a good act of contrition requires that I be sorry for what I did, and that I intend unreservedly to never be angry again. Yeah, right...not happening, Brother Jesus, not happening.
Damned Wittgenstein, for that matter. His philosophy is so dense because he sought absolute congruence between thought, action, and belief. But one thing the universe is, and remains, is not congruent. Trying to understand it can make multiple very bright people flee to things like cultivating a rock garden, as my buddy, indicted coconspirator and practicing Philosopher as well as Philosophy Professor Crispin Sartwell has done. Or, run for Congress. Or, run to prayer.
Confession, authenticity, congruence, integrity...Damn them all, I say. And, I recommend than taking a deep breath and getting back to trying to figure it all out. It's not the job of the academic philosopher to do this; it's the job of the authentic human being.
"But one thing we can understand about Wittgenstein is that he longed to change himself; and he saw confession as a means to fulfilling this. “Nothing is so difficult,” Wittgenstein wrote in 1938, “as not deceiving oneself.”’ His vision of the authentic self is perhaps always beyond reach, like the exemplars of authenticity with which he was familiar through the writings of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Authenticity throughout the history of philosophy is often conceived of as an ideal to which we should aspire, but that doesn’t prevent it being a useful means for self-improvement. Confession can help remove obstacles standing in the way of our becoming our authentic selves. "If it can do that for Wittgenstein, it may do the same for us."
Or, maybe not.
Maybe you should just not think about it all. This one is for Crispin, Jeff, James, Agi and Adam...