Sunday, October 01, 2006

On the Innateness of the Noetic Faculty

I'm going to leave off pretending to criticize Grassi, since my every objection to his argument is met with some sort of answer further on. One point though did strike me about his interpretation of Longinus' On the Sublime: How do we interpret the idea that the power to concieve great thoughts, i.e. noesis, is for the most part natural? Grassi prefers the term "aboriginal" to translate "authigenĂ©s," though if one chooses the term "innate," as many translators have, it should be taken in the sense that "nature (understood as phuein, as birth and development) is the capacity of becoming manifest, as it appears in plants, animals and human language, revealing something completely new" (p.67). Now this is the funny thing about humans. They're most notable natural endowment isn't so much something they're born with–though they do have awfully big brains–as it is something that develops over time. What do we say of a being whose essence continuously unfolds?

Grassi has a lot to say about the ontological difference, that is, the difference between individual beings and being qua being. I don't. My gut feeling is that if starting with an existential being is not an adequate way to understand being, then what passes for being doesn't really need to be understood. It's probably just smoke and mirrors. However I see no reason not to ground ontology on what actually exists –I'm not really exercising my noetic faculty here; it's just my gut.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 2:04 PM.


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