Wednesday, February 07, 2007


After two years and over a hundred posts, I have decided to take an indefinite break from Ideas of Imperfection. There are not enough hours in the day, I'm afraid – though if there were another three, I would probably want to spend them sleeping. Appropriately, the final substantive post returns to the subject of the first.

There may be occasional updates in the future. I'm sad never to have written about – or finished reading – Randall Collins' massive Sociology of Philosophies, which takes up Ernest Gellner's advice, in Words and Things:
Any sociologist of knowledge, wishing to trace the mechanism of the institutional and social influence on thought, could hardly do better than choose modern philosophy as his field of enquiry. It provides him with an area of thought where the social factors [...] operate, if not in an experimentally ideal state of isolation, at least in greater purity than they generally do in other fields.
Gellner's execution of the project was marked by a somewhat hysterical lack of charity for its object, and a disappointingly crude inventory of sociological moves, as in the following exemplary quote:
The minuteness, pedantry, lack of obvious purpose, in brief, the notorious triviality of [linguistic philosophy] can only be explained in Veblenesque terms. Conspicuous Triviality is a kind of Conspicuous Waste (of time, talent, and so forth). Not everyone can afford it [...]
Collins, I assume, is more sophisticated and more sympathetic. Perhaps I'll let you know…

Thanks to everyone who has read or commented on things that I have written here. I've enjoyed your reactions, and learned from them, more than I had any right to expect.