Philosophical song? Two

How charming is divine Philosophy

Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose

but musical as is Apollo’s lute

–Milton

II. Is it a caricature to say that a scholastic approach to theology or philosophy believes there are strict outlines to worthy categorical thought? Is it accurate to say that even disaffected Scholastics — deconstructionists, for example — can find it hard to bury an aspect of thinking that expects block-of-ice or diamond-like outcomes? I have in mind here the perennial idea that permanence in philosophical thinking is to be found in the validity of a new method, in the validity of deconstruction or a reductive method —  is to be found in the firm grasp of results promised by a method of persistent unraveling or definitive clarification. It’s as if in a suspicion of all binaries, one binary remains: One must choose between building and admiring systems with permanent blocks — or un-building, taking down all such systems, and getting permanent clarity in that. The way to unfreeze scholasticism is not to find an ice-hammer, and proclaim the hammer, say the technique and lexicon of deconstruction, to be ‘where it’s at.’ We can slip past the construction-deconstruction dyad by affirming philosophical song or musical thinking. If we do, then thinking would be closer to Kierkegaard’s characterization of faith as a giving up and getting back, leaping up and landing in a beautiful dance. ‘Where it’s at’ in philosophy and in reality then becomes a thinking that follows the rhythms of walking, dancing, singing, or breathing. We follow (and listen to, and replicate or speak back) the breath of thought as it bursts from the lungs and is given up to the air — there to dissolve as a puff offered to the chill of a Syracuse morn — all the while maintaining the poised confidence that a new breath will emerge as the first is offered up and lost to the world. Or we hear (and listen to, and sing back with) the musical tone of a thinking that is the rhythm of song, letting one tone emerge and be lost to the world as another marvelously emerges. If so, then following thinking is like following melody and lyrics and patterns of breath or spirit – not like assembling or disassembling hard-edge structures in a search for (or despair of finding) architectonics.

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