Monthly Archives: January 2014

Freedom of will

In my writing about Collingwood’s New Leviathan, I am for the moment jumping ahead to Chapter XIII, “Choice.” I want to offer up the long excerpt below for comparison with a recent article, “Happiness and Its Discontents,” by Mari Ruti, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, January 20, 2014. Continue reading

NL III: “Body As Mind”

Index to this series

In Chapter I of The New Leviathan, we stipulated that natural science, the “science of body,” must be free to pursue its own aims. But we ourselves are doing science of mind, and:

1. 85. The sciences of mind, unless they preach error or confuse the issue by dishonest or involuntary obscurity, can tell us nothing but what each can verify for himself by reflecting on his own mind.

All of us can be scientists of mind, if only we are capable of reflection: Continue reading

On these articles

Collingwood, New Leviathan

I have been engaged in reading, writing notes on, R. G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan (1942). The following is a list of the articles that comprise those notes so far, along with other articles to which I have assigned the category “New Leviathan.”

  1. A personal overview of Collingwood’s New Leviathan
  2. NL I: “Body and Mind”
  3. NL II: “The Relation Between Body and Mind”
  4. On these articles
  5. NL III: “Body As Mind”
  6. Freedom of will
  7. NL IV: “Feeling”
  8. NL V: “The Ambiguity of Feeling”
  9. NL VI: “Language”
  10. NL VI: “Language,” again
  11. NL VII: “Appetite”
  12. NL VIII: “Hunger and Love”
  13. Facts (NL IX, Retrospect, first 6 paragraphs)
  14. Freedom
  15. Happiness
  16. Thales of Miletus
  17. NL IX: “Retrospect”
  18. NL X: “Passion”
  19. NL XI: “Desire”
  20. NL XII: “Happiness”
  21. NL XIII: “Choice”
  22. NL XIV: “Reason”
  23. NL XV: “Utility”
  24. NL XVI: “Right”
  25. NL XVII: “Duty”
  26. NL XVIII: “Theoretical Reason”
  27. Freedom to Listen
  28. Duty to Nature
  29. Feyhaman Duran
  30. NL XIX: Two Senses of the Word “Society”
  31. NL XX: Society and Community
  32. NL XXI: Society as Joint Will
  33. NL XXII: The Family As a Mixed Community
  34. NL XXIII: The Family As a Society
  35. NL XXIV: The Body Politic, Social and Non-Social
  36. On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book IX
  37. NL XXV: The Three Laws of Politics

The list is made automatically by means of “shortcodes,” described in a blog article and in more detail on a support page. I am using in particular the code

display-posts category="New Leviathan" order="ASC" wrapper="ol" posts_per_page="40"

within square brackets in the underlying html file. (If and when I write more than 40 of these articles, I shall have to make an adjustment here.)

These articles contain many quotations from The New Leviathan itself and other books by Collingwood, and a few from books by other writers. I attempt to make my articles locally readable, although there is no predetermined global structure to an article. Reasons to read Collingwood are suggested in the articles themselves. I try to note the connections that I see to other books by Collingwood and to other chapters in The New Leviathan. I note the questions that are suggested to me. In the process, I think I come to some understandings that I did not have before I started writing: this is the purpose of writing in the first place.

Self-similarity again

Here is an image that I made when preparing the article Self-similarity nine months ago. The image appeared as a draft in the list of all of my articles on this blog. Here it is officially:

NL II: “The Relation Between Body and Mind”

Index to this series

I continue making notes on The New Leviathan (1942) of R. G. Collingwood (1889–1943). Now my main concern is with the second chapter, “The Relation Between Body and Mind”; but again I shall range widely.

Preliminaries

Some writers begin with an outline, which they proceed to fill out with words. At least, they do this if they do what they are taught in school:

He showed how the aspect of Quality called unity, the hanging-togetherness of a story, could be improved with a technique called an outline. The authority of an argument could be jacked up with a technique called footnotes, which gives authoritative reference. Outlines and footnotes are standard things taught in all freshman composition classes, but now as devices for improving Quality they had a purpose.

Thus Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, ch. 17. Does anybody strictly follow the textbook method? Continue reading

Hrant Dink assassination: 7th anniversary

A march from Taksim Square to the offices of Agos newspaper, where Hrant Dink was assassinated seven years ago today, January 19, 2014.

Seller of water and whistles

Seller of water and whistles

"We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian" (in Armenian, Turkish, and Kurdish)

“We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian” (in Armenian, Turkish, and Kurdish)

"Neither god nor state" "pimp/bastard/scoundrel state"

“Neither god nor state”
“pimp/bastard/scoundrel state”

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Copyright

Below is a provocative passage (transcribed by me) from the conclusion (p. 325) of R.G. Collingwood, The Principles of Art. This book was first published by Oxford in 1938, and its 1958 paperback edition is still in print, presumably without a copyright (my own paperback, bought about 20 years ago, has no copyright notice).

I typed up the passage below and put it on my website years ago. I want to promote it here because of the article that I chanced upon recently (because it was promoted on the Arts & Letters Daily site). The article itself is on the Poetry Foundation website, is by Ruth Graham, and is called Word Theft: Why did 2013 become the year of the plagiarists? I gather from the article that some contemporary poets have been found to have plagiarized from other contemporary poets; and what is especially annoying about the plagiarism is that the plagiarists are not actually improving what they are appropriating. In this case, they are not following Collingwood’s recommendation, though possibly they are ineptly trying:

To begin by developing a general point already made in the preceding chapter: we must get rid of the conception of artistic ownership. In this sphere, whatever may be true of others, la propriété c’est le vol. We try to secure a livelihood for our artists (and God knows they need it) by copyright laws protecting them against plagiarism; but the reason why our artists are in such a poor way is because of that very individualism which these laws enforce. If an artist may say nothing except what he has invented by his own sole efforts, it stands to reason he will be poor in ideas. If he could take what he wants wherever he could find it, as Euripides and Dante and Michelangelo and Shakespeare and Bach were free, his larder would always be full, and his cookery might be worth tasting.

This is a simple matter, and one in which artists can act for themselves without asking help (which I am afraid they would ask in vain) from lawyers and legislators. Let every artist make a vow, and here among artists I include all such as write or speak on scientific or learned subjects, never to prosecute or lend himself to a prosecution under the law of copyright. Let any artist who appeals to that law be cut by his friends, asked to resign from his clubs, and cold-shouldered by any society in which right-thinking artists have influence. It would not be many years before the law was a dead letter, and the strangle-hold of artistic individualism in this one respect a thing of the past.

This, however, will not be enough unless the freedom so won is used. Let all such artists as understand one another, therefore, plagiarize each other’s work like men. Let each borrow his friends’ best ideas, and try to improve on them. If A thinks himself a better poet than B, let him stop hinting it in the pages of an essay; let him re-write B’s poems and publish his own improved version. If X is dissatisfied with Y’s this-year Academy picture, let him paint one caricaturing it; not a sketch in Punch, but a full-sized picture for next year’s Academy. I will not rely upon the hanging committee’s sense of humour to the extent of guaranteeing that they would exhibit it; but if they did, we should get brighter Academy exhibitions. Or if he cannot improve on his friends’ ideas, at least let him borrow them; it will do him good to try fitting them into works of his own, and it will be an advertisement for the creditor. An absurd suggestion? Well, I am only proposing that modern artists should treat each other as Greek dramatists or Renaissance painters or Elizabethan poets did. If any one thinks that the law of copyright has fostered better art than those barbarous times could produce, I will not try to convert them.

Collingwood’s book suggests the author’s admiration for T.S. Eliot, and the two contemporary thinkers seem to share an opinion about copying. Eliot’s verbalization of the idea is apparently the more memorable one and is quoted by Ms Graham in the article on the Poetry Foundation website:

T.S. Eliot, who relied on other sources for much of “The Waste Land” (plagiarism or allusion?), famously wrote, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” Less often quoted is the next line, “Bad poets deface what they take.” This is what seems to gall many victims of plagiarists: to see their poems reprinted in weaker versions than the original.

Give childhood back to children

Give childhood back to children.

via Give childhood back to children.

I created this article by pressing a button beneath the friend’s article that is linked to above. That article links in turn to an article by Peter Gray in The Independent with the headline “Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less”. Gray writes,

I’m lucky. I grew up in the United States in the 1950s, at the tail end of what the historian Howard Chudacoff refers to as the “golden age” of children’s free play. The need for child labour had declined greatly, decades earlier, and adults had not yet begun to take away the freedom that children had gained.

I don’t think Gray quite says this, but it seems to me that making young people study in school for the sake of their future remunerative employment is just another form of child labor, even if it is supposed to be for their own good. As angry children are supposedly wont to say, they didn’t ask to be born in the first place.

NL I: “Body and Mind”

“Body and Mind” is the opening chapter of Collingwood’s New Leviathan. The chapter is a fine work of rhetoric that could stand on its own, though it invites further reading. In these respects it resembles the first of the ten traditional books of Plato’s Republic, or even the first of the thirteen books of Euclid’s Elements. The analogy with Euclid becomes a bit tighter when we consider that each chapter of The New Leviathan is divided into short paragraphs, which are numbered sequentially for ease of reference.

Continue reading

A personal overview of Collingwood’s New Leviathan

These are the notes of an amateur of the work of the philosopher R. G. Collingwood.

Published in 1942, The New Leviathan was the last book that Collingwood wrote. He finished it in some haste, because he knew he was dying—albeit of a condition brought on or at least exacerbated by overwork in the first place. He did die in 1943. Having been born in 1889, he was not so old as Socrates at death; but like Socrates, he had a babe in arms. Continue reading