Monday, January 12, 2009

Stanley Fish Talks Burris and St. Augustine?

Leave it to Stanley Fish to make my Monday morning an especially interesting one. Well, that and the fact that it's pleasantly quiet and I had a particularly gripping Sunday. But I digress.
Fish, a Humanities expert extraordinaire is doing a 'reading' of the Burris text and what it might represent. To make his point, he evokes the Middle Ages, the Donatis, Thomas Hobbes, and an array of contemporary political names and notions.
The paragraph that jumped out to me was the following. I would concur with it on principle:

"Virtue is a fine thing and it would be better if those who govern us instantiated it. But virtue is, for most human beings, an occasional achievement – sometimes you are, sometimes you aren’t – and, moreover, there is no public test, no test everyone would agree to, for determining its presence."

Read more here.





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8 comments:

Brooke said...

So, the first news you read is Stanley Fish?
So, the first news 'is' Stanley Fish.
Right.
Words like 'virtue' are problematic because they're quantitatively unmeasurable.
And, in a way, that is the problem with the whole Burris thing.

dana said...

Re: the virtue comment, the key ingredient here is acceptance that it cannot always be present in the same amount.

B.R. said...

Fish makes good sense to me most of the time. I don't necessarily agree with the premise here, though. I don't see the point of trying to define something that's, well, quantifiably uncapturable.
But the reading was a pretty good ride, though.
And it made me want to revisit St. Augustine for a couple of hours.

will said...

'virtue' is one of those words/concepts that's rarely placed in context, that's why it's hard to 'get.'

Anonymous said...

Good piece. A tad generic, but Fish is only blogging, after all.

Finn said...

It's not like he can reach the depth of the argument in one page. I appreciate his point, though.

Becca said...

Statements like these: "Virtue is a fine thing and it would be better if those who govern us instantiated it."... do create perhaps slightly higher expectations?

Nicki said...

and i have yet to claim the 'occasional achievement' as a thing of mine.