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Three lives of stone

March 2, 2015

1. Gerard Manley Hopkins, “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection” (1888):

[…] Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; ‘ world’s wildfire, leave but ash:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, ‘ since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ‘ patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.

2. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophiccal Investigations (~1946), §283:

What gives us so much as the idea that beings, things, can feel?

Is it that my education has led me to it by drawing my attention to feelings in myself, and now I transfer the idea to objects outside myself? That I recognize that there is something there (in me) which I can call ‘pain’ without getting into conflict with the way other people use the word? — I do not transfer my idea to stones, plants, etc.

Couldn’t I imagine having frightful pain and turning to stone while they lasted? Well, how do I know, if I shut my eyes, whether I have not turned into a stone? And if that has happened, in what sense will the stone have the pains? In what sense will they be ascribable to the stone? And why need the pain have a bearer at all here?!

And can one say of the stone that it has a soul and that is what has the pain? What has a soul, or pain, to do with a stone?

Only of what behaves like a human being can one say that it has pains.

For one has to say it of a body, or, if you like of a soul which some body has. And how can a body have a soul?

3. W.H. Auden, “In Praise of Limestone” (1948):

[…] Dear, I know nothing of
Either, but when I try to imagine a faultless love
Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur
Of underground streams, what I see is a limestone landscape.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Austin Starr permalink
    March 15, 2015 9:47 am

    love the Wittgenstein quote. He’s my totally favorite philosopher.

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