Sometimes I just have no idea what’s going on

St. John’s has scheduled faculty lectures every Wednesday afternoon for the summer semeester. I’ve been to two of them; the first was on Does Beauty Have a Place in the Liberal Arts, and the second is on Intellectual Sin; apparently next week we’re hearing about Arjuna’s Dilemma and Shakuntala’s Solution. So far the main thing I’ve gotten out of these lectures is a conviction that I have no idea what these people are talking about, nor why it matters.

The Lecture on Intellectual Sin followed excerpted arguments Descartes 5th Meditation, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and Heidegger’s translation of the Anaximander Fragment. Apparently the lecturer demonstrated that Descartes was guilty of desiring certainty above (uncertain) truth, and therefore turning an argument from reason into an argument from authority; Kant was guilty of “the sin of enthusiasm,” through denying the implications of nihilism in his table of categories; Heidegger was guilty of mistranslation through the “sin of authenticity,” whatever that means. And apparently those are faults against, logic (Descartes), rhetoric (Kant), and grammar (Heidegger), or modesty, watchfulness, and gratitude. Through some rather complicated arguments from the texts the lecturer believed he had proved this. I can’t say whether he did or didn’t – first because I couldn’t follow his arguments, and then because I didn’t understand the accusation. In conclusion: sometimes I just have no idea what’s going on.

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