Walker Percy Wednesday 186

AFTER READING Feeling and Form, Susanne Langer’s extraordinary work on aesthetics, one inevitably goes back to her earlier book Philosophy in a New Key, of which according to the author the former is the companion volume — not just to get one’s bearings in the general semiotic on which the aesthetic is based, but in…

Walker Percy Wednesday 185

What has this to do with existentialism? We will pass over the epistemological consequences of symbolic knowing, the possession of the thing by the symbol rather than adaptation by signal-a knowing which is indeed existential in the broad sense of knowing something by being something-and go at once to the more typical existentialia. The recognition…

Walker Percy Wednesday 184

IF IT IS TRUE that both Anglo-American empiricism and European existentialism contain valid insights, then in respect of the failure to make a unifying effort toward giving an account of all realities, the former is surely the worse offender. For the existentialists do take note of empirical science, if only to demote it to some…

Walker Percy Wednesday 183

SYMBOL AND CONSCIOUSNESS The selective and intentional character of consciousness has been stressed by empiricists and phenomenologists alike. The conscious act is always intentional: One is never simply conscious, but conscious of this or that. Consciousness is, in fact, defined by the phenomenologist as noematic intentionality in general. But quite as essential to the act…

Walker Percy Wednesday 182

THERE ARE two interesting things about current approaches to consciousness as a subject of inquiry. One is that the two major approaches, the explanatory-psychological and the phenomenological, go their separate ways, contributing nothing to each other. They do not tend to converge upon or supplement each other as do, say, atomic theory and electromagnetic theory.…

Walker Percy Wednesday 181

THE SOURCE OF THE ANTINOMY The general source of the antinomy is not to be found, as is sometimes alleged, in the nature of the subject, man, the culture member who practices science but needs myths. Such an anthropology is in the last analysis incoherent because it requires two sorts of men, scientists who observe…

Walker Percy Wednesday 180

The Antinomy of Science Examples of the scientific assertion S is P: The square of the time of revolution of any planet is proportional to the cube of the mean distance from the sun. (Kepler’s third law of planetary orbits) The force of attraction between two bodies is in direct proportion to the product of…

Walker Percy Wednesday 179

The Antinomy of Language Examples of the linguistic assertion S is P. Dr. ltard writes in The Savage of Aveyron that he tried to teach Victor the wild boy the word for milk, lait, as a sign of a biological need, by withholding the milk and uttering the word in its absence. This failed: After…

Walker Percy Wednesday 178

THE ANTINOMIES OF THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN ITS GRASP OF CULTURE Kant believed that when “pure reason” ventures beyond the manifold of experience, it falls into an antinomy. That is to say, equally valid trains of argument lead to contradictory conclusions. Now, apart from the truth or falsity of Kant’s argument, the fact is that…

Walker Percy Wednesday 177

CULTURE AS A SUBJECT OF THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD What happens when the functional method of the sciences is applied to cultural phenomena? Does culture lend itself to such an understanding? If there are difficulties in the cultural sciences, are the difficulties due to the complexity of the material, as is often alleged, or are the…