Friday, January 9, 2009

Quote of the day

"The notion that every sentence we use bears, indeed consists of, the invisible traces of other meanings created by a vast non-human system, carries serious implications.... The consumption of literature involves continual (usually instinctive) evaluation, of characters in stories, content and quality of poems, skill and intentions of authors, etc. etc. etc. Value, morality, is removed by the structuralist picture if taken seriously.... Heidegger's book What is Metaphysics? is partly concerned with showing how the general idea of value (morals) is a superficial phenomenon. Behind this new 'revaluation of all values' by Heidegger and by Derrida lies the (metaphysical) concept of a vast superhuman area of control: Heidegger's later concept of Being, and Derrida's theory of Language. These systems represent new forms of determinism. Determinism is always reappearing in new forms since it satisfies a deep human wish: to give up, to get rid of freedom, responsibility, remorse, all sorts of personal individual unease, and surrender to fate and the relief of 'it could not be otherwise.'"
-- Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992), p.190.


hwh said...

Your quote today is reminding me how striking Sartre was on personal responsibility when we read him in the fifties.

LFC said...

I believe that Iris Murdoch's first published book was a study of Sartre. So you are very much to the point here, hwh. Thanks.

LFC said...

I considered putting up a counter-quote, e.g. from B.F. Skinner, but I've decided not to, at least for now.