11 May 2005

Simple Gifts

One of my favorite aphorisms from Wittgenstein--favorite because I find I actually use it often--goes something like, 'Simply to pick the books off the floor and place them on the shelf is already to introduce order in them.' How many times I've applied that not simply to boxes of books but to other things as well.

As, for instance, Victor Caston's paper. I had placed it on a chair while I took a break, and, while I was gone, my 1 1/2 year old, Gregory, came by and evidently thought it would be good fun to pull the 65 pages down onto the ground and play in them like a pile of snow. This happened about three days ago. Citing Wittgenstein to myself, I simply picked up the separate pages and made a stack out of them, all the pages facing the same way and in the same orientation. Simply to do this, I thought to myself, is to introduce order into the pages.

It actually proved useful to read the paper in this scrambled way for a few days. One notices things, since they are not looked at in context. It's like proofreading by reading backwards, or practicing a piece of music by--as some teachers recommend--picking 4 or 8 bar units of a larger piece and learning to play them perfectly out of the normal order.

Anyway, I've spent the last hour finally putting the pages in number order as well. How very convenient that is, I realize, to have pages in order. And now, let's see if I have time to post something. I've been wanting to comment on the infinite regress argument of DA 3.2.