On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings, William James

On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings, William James

in the linked talk James was writing before all of the quite legitimate concerns of the “linguistic” turn but his larger point about us always-already-being-in-the-midst-of-situated-interests holds to this day.

“[N]either the whole of truth nor the whole of good is revealed to any single observer, although each observer gains a partial superiority of insight from the peculiar position in which he stands. Even prisons and sick-rooms have their special revelations. It is enough to ask of each of us that he should be faithful to his own opportunities and make the most of his own blessings, without presuming to regulate the rest of the vast field.” – William James, ‘On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings’ (1899)

7 responses to “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings, William James

  1. Interestingly enough, it is this “always-already-being-in-the-midst-of-situated-interests” that I refer to when talking about the non-linguistic immanent Background conditions of existence. In-the-midst-ness is the at-handed-ness, or the inescapable condition of being-with that is a practical reality before ever being posited via thetic apprehension. So we are “blind” to how this wild Background operates both externally to us and within us, but only partially. As James says in that quote I added above, “each observer gains a partial superiority of insight from the peculiar position in which he stands.” We may be blind but only partially so. We, of course, intimate ourselves enough to be able to subsist within the folds and matrices immanence. The flesh of this life is dark but intimate.

    • well the devil is likely in the details but at this level of discourse all I can do is gesture back to rsbakker’s excellent comments/points in relation to yer earlier post around these matters where he fleshes out some of the linguistic-turn concerns that I mention above, and to note as I have said that we can do/show more than we can explain/say but this falls into very surface (not depth) realms by my account, I don’t have access these days but maybe someone can free a copy of this for you:

      • also to note that I think that for all of its positive qualities Alva Noe’s recent work is wrong to talk about our gaining “access” to things/matters, when what we create/assemble/cultivate are rather more along the line of prototypes/arte-facts and related response-abilities, more in keeping with experiments with affordances/resistances and manglings.

      • good I think to emphasize our uses of, that we are always-already manipulating pace Heidegger and other seekers of revelations or other ways out of politics.

    • sorry I don’t remember exactly which of your posts rsb responded to by pointing to our all-too-human limits and why he gave up on such efforts as you were calling for, saying is a form of doing and so we are not in a prison-house of Language by my account.

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