9.30.2008

A Word in Response to the "'On the Nature of Sweet," or, A Meeting of the Minds

See other posts in the "Is this sweet?" series.
See other posts in the "On the Nature of Sweet" series (more focused on the philosophy of sweetness).

While I find Mr. Beers' attempt at penetrating the formidable intellectual husk of Sweetness to be admirable, even revolutionary, there were, I'd take care to note, plenty of deficiencies in his discussion. Certainly Mr. Beers, speaking through his representative Demosthenes, eloquently articulates the complex nature of the "Is this sweet?" dilemma, but provides us with no coherent criteria with which to judge. He recklessly declares a bearded, drunken Jack as "sweet," while neglecting to take a position on the more pressing issues of the sandwich and the blues song. He gives us neither methodology nor judgment, and leaves us adrift in a murky sea of confusion. Additionally, his exposition and pseudo-algebraic formulation of the "sweetness of 'is this sweet'" is so self-evidently absurd, as to not warrant a discussion at all. Clearly, it is sweet. Thus, I propose an alternative dialogue that I believe will more definitively declare our purpose and enunciate our philosophy. Our characters are Plato, Bentham and Kant. The connection to Mr. Beers' "Lost"-based dialogue should be apparent.

Plato: I declare that all non-Greek studies of my work have been critically flawed, because they rely on a fatal mistranslation.
Bentham: My good Plato. Do you mean that the entire history of Western philosophy has been founded upon false premises? What is this mistranslation?
Plato: My concept of eidos, which has been denigrated to "form" or "ideal" in your vulgar Anglo-Saxon tongue.
Kant: There are indeed, ancient, arcane rumors of a mistranslation, whispered in the most forgotten corners of Konigsberg.
Plato: I am afraid they are true. The early generations of so-called Neo-Platonists writing in Latin, should have translated eidos as "dulcis." As such, it ought to have come down to you, Bentham, as "sweet."
Bentham: Most remarkable! What you suggest then in your Dialogues, then, is that a realm of perfect Sweetness exists? And all we can see are its faintest shadows? Hints of the eternal Sweetness?
Plato: Indeed this is the nature of the Real.
Kant: Preposterous! We can apprehend the Sweet readily enough. Take, for a moment, that most poetical of philosophical allegories, your own notion of the cave, Plato. If I recall correctly, you present the image of several prisoners chained to a wall, forced to watch a parade of shadows on the wall.
Plato: More or less, yes. The shadows represent the Unsweet, the material realm, grasped through the physical senses.
Kant: Well, are not shadow puppets totally sweet?
Plato: ......
Bentham: They are certainly sweet. But remember, this is allegory. So although shadow puppets may be definitively sweeter than the sun, his point may still hold. I do think, however, that a group of prisoners forced to watch Radiohead music videos escaping to encounter Slash shredding hard on a Flying V, would be more readily comprehensible as allegory.
Plato: Thank you, Jeremy. This will be amended in all subsequent editions.
Kant: I still don't buy this notion of "the Sweet." The Sweet is something tangible, something visible, not merely an ideal. It must be, for my theory of ethics rests upon this very conception of Sweetness!
Plato: Please elaborate, Immanuel.
Kant: Simply put, always act according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time claim that it is totally sweet.
Bentham: Here I must object. An admirable ethos, to be sure, but I have a problem. What if an act that is patently not sweet in isolation could lead to greater sweetness? Surely you can recognize the morality of such an act. For example, smashing a bottle of Dogfish Head 90 Minute in the middle of the street is not sweet. But what if this is done so that the glass might pierce the tire of a passing gasoline tanker, sending it careening into a gas station and setting off a totally sweet chain of explosions?
Kant: Hmm...that would be pretty sweet....But do you mean to say that the bottle was broken with this intention? Then perhaps I could permit it. But if the crash were inadvertent, I'm afraid it could not be condoned, or labeled as sweet.
Bentham: Sorry to demur, but I maintain that it would be sweet.
Plato: Ok, I'm going to interject here. Because I'm about to blow your minds.
Kant and Bentham: ?
Plato: Seriously, ready?
Kant and Bentham: Yes.
Plato: IS this sweet?

FIN

2 comments:

Andy Beers said...

the gauntlet is down!

but, totally sweet

Edgar Keats said...

I am so in love with this blog.

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