Saturday, April 22, 2006

Knowledge Exacts a Mode of Life

From Stanley Cavell's "Existentialism and Analytical Philosophy" in Themes Out of School

"the term philosophy can refer either to a body of propositions supposed to comprise knowledge of some sort, or else to a mode of life, and that analyitical philosophy is an example of the former and existentialism an example of the latter." (p.220)

"a body of knowledge or a mode of life." (p.221)

"it is one of Kierkegaard's and Nietzsche's best discoveries - or rediscoveries - that knowledge itself exacts a mode of life." (p.222)


Matthew Broudy said...

The question is how do we aquire real knowledge (i.e. knowledge that finds itself reflected in a change in a new mode of life). In this particular regard Nietzsche would be suspect. He didn't seem like a particularly healthy person to me.

Matthew Broudy said...

P.S. I cam across your sight, because I was reading a partial manuscript of your work criticizing Ken Wilbur. Did you ever finish it? Do you have a book published? I'm only about half way through what I found on, but so far I'm enjoying it. Particularly the part about Holons, which to the student of systems theory, has obvious flaws, which you do an admirable job pointing out. If only Wilbur would spend some time studing Bateson, instead of just writing him off as an It thinker, his work would be better. So do you have a book? A more complete manuscript? Or other any reading recomendations for a young scholar? if you do I'd really appreciate it if you would drop me a line at

Thanks for your writing...

Jeff Meyerhoff said...


The word "real" in real knowledge creates trouble. Of course we all want our knowledge to be the real knowledge but what is the neutral way to verify that? Different people will assess the changes in their own or in others' mode of life differently. Certainly Nietzsche didn't seem to be a very happy guy.

The book is finished and it is being released on, one chapter every two weeks or so.

Maybe you could elaborate on how your knowledge of systems theory shows you flaws in the part about holons.

Mark Edwards and I discuss systems theory in our exchange at You probably know more about it than I do, maybe you have some comments.

I could tell you what books have been important to me, but they may not be what you need to read right now. They are listed in my blogger profile. Noam Chomsky's political writings; Richard Rorty's philosophy; Nelson Goodman's Ways of Worldmaking. Maybe you'd like (or already know of) Morris Berman's Reenchantment of the World, he was greatly influenced by Bateson, who you seem to know.

Thanks for the encouragement,


PS: Nice pictures of flowers.