STARTING TOMORROW: Lofty thoughts in the afternoon!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2021

First Encounter Beach: Last week, to our surprise, we found ourselves thinking about First Encounter Beach.

We're not sure we've ever been there! Presumably, its name got embedded in our head when we held summer jobs on Cape Cod during the years when we were listed as a college student.

First Encounter Beach is in Eastham, just north of Chatham, as you round the corner of the Cape and head up toward Provincetown. Because it's on the Massachusetts Bay side of the Cape, not the open ocean side, we doubt that we ever went there for recreational purposes. 

Back in 1620, it's the place where the people we typically call "the Pilgrims" had their first encounter with some of the people who were already inhabiting the area.

There are various ways to describe that (unfriendly) encounter. This can be seen in the dueling accounts which appear on the historical markers concerning the incident, apparently three in number, which were erected in Eastham, first in 1920 (two markers), then in 2001.

None of this has anything to do with the reason why the name of that beach was suddenly floating around in our head.

Why was it floating around there? We were about to engineer a first encounter for interested readers with Philosophical Investigations (1953), the most important philosophy book of the 20th century.

Philosophical Investigations is the book which defines the work of the so-called later Wittgenstein. The text of the book is extremely obscure. For almost anyone who tries to read it, this obscurity will inevitably create a puzzling first encounter.

We took the undergraduate course on the book, taught by Rogers Albritton, in the street-fighting second semester of the 1967-68 school year. The following year, when we were listed as a senior, we took the graduate seminar on the book, taught by Stanley Cavell.

The book was extremely hot at the time. That undergraduate course would have been our own first encounter.

It's strange to think that a book so obscure could be the last century's most important. For our money, the book is highly instructive in spite of itself, but we'll also say that it has had exactly zero influence on the public discourse in the more than sixty years since it first appeared.

It's the most important philosophy book of the 20th century! Despite that fact, no one has the slightest idea what is said in this important book, and it's never discussed in public. We'd chalk that up to the following cause:

Our logicians and philosophers, such as they are, have long since walked off their posts. They swim at private beaches and clubs. With them, there are zero encounters.

Tomorrow, we'll start engineering your first encounter with this maddening yet highly instructive book. It's the most important philosophy book of the 20th century—and given the way our culture works, its contents are never discussed!

At low tide, the tide goes way, way out on the bay side in Eastham. According to Professor Horwich, the tide went out on this book long ago—and it never came back!


23 comments:

  1. "in the street-fighting second semester of the 1967-68 school year"

    For many of us, that was the summer of love, not of fighting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really want to thank Dr Emu for saving my marriage. My wife really treated me badly and left home for almost 3 month this got me sick and confused. Then I told my friend about how my wife has changed towards me. Then she told me to contact Dr Emu that he will help me bring back my wife and change her back to a good woman. I never believed in all this but I gave it a try. Dr Emu casted a spell of return of love on her, and my wife came back home for forgiveness and today we are happy again. If you are going through any relationship stress or you want back your Ex or Divorce husband you can contact his whatsapp +2347012841542 or email emutemple@gmail.com website: Https://emutemple.wordpress.com/ Https://web.facebook.com/Emu-Temple-104891335203341

      Delete
  2. "It's strange to think that a book so obscure could be the last century's most important. For our money, the book is highly instructive in spite of itself, but we'll also say that it has had exactly zero influence on the public discourse in the more than sixty years since it first appeared."

    The book was the most important philosophy book. It was not the most important book. Somerby needs to tell us whether it has an impact on philosophy -- I suspect it did, since philosophers named it the most important philosophy book of the century.

    There is no reason to expect it to have any impact on public discourse, any more than the most important book on dentistry did, or horticulture or any other highly technical abstruse subject.

    Leaving out the word philosophy in the first sentence doesn't help Somerby's argument but it does reveal his dishonesty.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "when we were listed as a senior,"

    This is an odd construction that implies that Somerby did not actually participate in college.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "no one has the slightest idea what is said in this important book"

    The professors who taught those two seminars did.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Our logicians and philosophers, such as they are, have long since walked off their posts. They swim at private beaches and clubs. With them, there are zero encounters."

    Somerby has no ides where his professors went to swim, or where philosophers swim, for that matter. Why assume they are wealthy when Somerby has been insisting there is no real-world application of philosophy?

    Somerby's essays these days are just exercises in spite.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Tomorrow, we'll start engineering your first encounter with this maddening yet highly instructive book."

    How can Somerby know whether we have read it already or not?

    Personally, I doubt whether Somerby has read more than the first few pages. He never quotes anything from the middle of a book, any book.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "According to Professor Horwich, the tide went out on this book long ago—and it never came back!"

    When was that survey conducted, in relation to Horwich's statement? It seems likely there are philosophers who disagree with him.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You have talked around it for two months. Get on with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would require Somerby to actually read the book.

      Delete
  9. "Back in 1620, it's the place where the people we typically call 'the Pilgrims'..."

    Why does Somerby put the Pilgrims in quotes? Is he trying to play with the gentle readers' emotions?

    "None of this has anything to do with the reason why the name of that beach was suddenly floating around in our head."

    Beaches don't float, but stuff can float near a beach. Somerby seems to be attempting some sort of misdirection here.

    "For almost anyone who tries to read it, this obscurity will inevitably create a puzzling first encounter."

    Somerby here tries to pass on his inequities to the reader in a vain attempt to minimize his own worthlessness.

    "It's the most important philosophy book of the 20th century"

    Somerby manages to identify the book as a philosophy book but it's too late, he already typed the one sentence where he forgot that attribution so astute readers will not forget that transgression.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's been regularly trying to pretend that a philosophy book should be read outside that field, leaving off the word philosophy when he calls it the most important book of the century, before complaining that it has had no impact on public discourse. It isn't an unintentional omission, as you suggest, but part of his repeated complaint. That makes it pretty obviously deliberate.

      Delete
    2. Did I need to put /s at the end of my comment to indicate it was sarcasm? Oh dear.

      Delete
    3. Always a good idea. Somerby never signals his intent and it may cause him to be misunderstood occasionally.

      Delete
  10. Indian Rock marker:

    "For thousands of years before the Europeans landed, the Nauset Indians lived beside the marshes of Cape Cod. Among the evidence of their occupation is this community grinding rock, one of four such boulders found in the Nauset Bay area.

    Indians used the abrasive qualities of the fine-grained metamorphic rock to grind and polish implements made of stone and animal bones. Stone axes were sharpened on the well-worn concave surfaces. Bone fishhooks were shaped in the narrow grooves.

    “Indian Rock” was originally located just below here, embedded in the mud of the marsh. The National Park Service moved the 20-ton boulder to this site in 1965."

    ReplyDelete
  11. First Encounter plaque:

    "Near this site the Nauset tribe of the Wampanoag nation, seeking to protect themselves and their culture, had their first encounter, 8 december 1620, with Myles Standish, John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, John Tilley, Edward Tilley, John Howland, Richard Warren, Stephen Hopkins, Edward Dotey, John Allerton, Thomas English, Master Mate Clark, Master Gunner Copin and three sailors of the Mayflower company."

    Original First Encounter plaque:

    "One mile west of this site
    hostile Indians had their
    First Encounter
    6 December 1620
    (Old Style)
    With Myles Standish, John Carver,
    William Bradford, Edward Winslow.
    John Tilley, Edward Tilley, John
    Howland, Richard Warren, Stephen
    Hopkins, Edward Dotey, John Allerton,
    Thomas English, Master Mate Clark,
    Master Gunner Copin and Three
    Sailors of the Mayflower Company."

    Somerby, who has perhaps read books about the Pilgrims, must know that the Pilgrims uncovered and consumed the seed corn that the Indians were saving for the next planting season. Why wouldn't they feel hostile about that threat to their survival?

    "A small group of Pilgrims then stepped onto the beach to explore their new homeland. As the party entered the dark forest above the beach, they stumbled into the village of the Nauset Indians. The village was empty.

    The Nausets were a powerful and populous tribe. They spent their winters far inland, where the hunting was better, and returned to the coast with warm weather to plant their summer gardens.

    Nauset Indians
    As the Pilgrims investigated the deserted village, they found a smooth place in the sand where something had been carefully buried. They dug down and discovered a secret cache of Indian flint corn with kernels of red, yellow, and blue. The Nausets had buried this corn in wicker baskets to preserve it through the winter. This was the seed stock for their summer gardens.

    There were four bushels of corn in that stockpile. Two men could barely lift it from the ground. The Pilgrims carried the corn back to the Mayflower and returned a few days later looking for more. In all, the Pilgrims took fourteen bushels of buried corn from the Nauset Indians. Then they sailed across the bay to start their colony at Plymouth Rock."

    https://fourstringfarm.com/2014/11/18/the-buried-corn-of-the-nausets/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somerby explicitly said recently that he prefers the old ways of teaching the pleasing, agreed-upon legends, even if they were incorrect. One can decide if that is a plea for the status quo, as I think it is.

      Delete
    2. mh, I don't think that is what he ever said - can you quote him instead of this paraphrase, or at least give the date when he allegedly said this. I know how punctilious you are about accuracy, so I'd like to see if you can back your comment up.

      Delete
    3. I remember him saying that too, in the context of the CRT discussion, FWIW.

      Delete
  12. The most important book of the twentieth century was Relativity: the Special and the General Theory, by Albert Einstein. If you only read one chapter, let it be The Relativity of Simultaneity. It's clear, accurate, and profound.

    ReplyDelete
  13. “Our logicians and philosophers, such as they are, have long since walked off their posts. They swim at private beaches and clubs. With them, there are zero encounters.”

    ‘Logicians’ and philosophers, if they are teachers, encounter hundreds, perhaps thousands of people during their careers. The people they encounter are called ‘students.’

    As in any encounter, both parties must actively participate. As a college student, I knew that different professors had different teaching styles, some engaging, some not, but I felt it was my ‘job’ as a student to accept the terms of the professor’s approach if at all possible and try to learn from that, in addition to reading the course assignments. I did not expect the teacher to cater to my whims, nor did I expect them to teach something other than the course they were teaching.

    So I would have expected a philosophy professor to teach philosophy, not trash it. And I tried to bring a certain amount of respect in to the classroom, since the professor in general knew more about the subject than I did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mh, it seems to me that TDH's beef (something of a fetish) is that the analytic philosophy he studied in college is esoteric and fails to address and correct the irrational discourse that occupies the major news sources. That these philosophy professors could somehow change the course of discourse in a way that TDH would like it to be changed seems very far-fetched. He seems to be going on a pointless tack. I don't see anything malicious in it; and discussing these philosophers, even to the narrow extent that he does, is perhaps a welcome change of pace from a lot of the drivel that's focused on today. And my guess is that there are some current or recent philosophers that do discuss issues that are relevant to current politics (certainly is the case with several classical philosophers). I don't think TDH is that smart in this area.

      Delete



  14. How To Get Your Ex Lover/Partner/Boyfriend/Girlfriend/Wife Or Husband Back

    I was married for 16 years to a loving mother and wife. We had 2 children together who are now 11 & 13. I reconnected with an old girlfriend from college on Facebook and we began an affair and I left my wife. The woman I had an affair with is a wonderful woman and I love her too and our kids had begun accepting the situation and my wife has kind of moved on, but not in love with the man she is seeing. I thought I fell out of love with my wife and I felt terrible about what I did to her - she is a good woman and I don't know what came over me. I decided to try and get her back and I was recommended to OYINBO for help to get reunited with my wife and within 48 hours after I made contact with OYINBO my wife decided to work things out with me and now we are back together with our children living as one happy family. I really don't know the words to use in appreciation of what OYINBO did for me but I will say thank you sir for reuniting I and my family back. For those in trying times with their marriages or relationship can communicate with OYINBO through the below in formations.


    Whats App/call/text: +2348074066640
    Email:PROPHETOYINBOJESUS@GMAIL.COM


    ReplyDelete