Philosophical Nugget

Here’s a little nugget prompted by my current reading in philosophy: which is more fundamental, the noun or the verb?

Another way of asking this: are you a human being or a human becoming?

Let’s just say that I’m beginning to understand that the difference between these two has some massive implications for doing philosophy…

8 responses to “Philosophical Nugget”

  1. Trav: seriously, if you don’t want to answer…

    Greg: I share your question. Lots of brighter minds than mine are insisting that it’s an “or.” I’m not so sure, but there does certainly seem to be a privileging of the noun, of the static, within philosophy at the expense of the verb.

  2. From the perspective of a philosopher, this is a meaningless question. It tells us nothing about the world. But then again, I’m firmly entrenched in the analytic school of thought – this kind of question tends to run in the continental school of thought.

  3. I do want to answer, I did in fact; I am not just being facetious. My point is there, and obvious enough. (In fact, I thought it rather clever)

    As apples and oranges are both types of fruit (and can’t really be compared), so nouns and verbs are both types of words (and can’t really be compared). Any coherent sentence requires both nouns and verbs, it should be fundamentally silly to ask if one is more fundamental than the other.

    I agree with Mr Thurley: this is an absolutely meaningless question. I worry that next you’re going to claim that language precedes thought… ;)

  4. this was a bit of a red herring, somewhat pointless, but also quite interesting. Peter and Travis (faffles above, for those not “in the know”), you are both quite right to say that this is a somewhat non-sensical thing to ask.

    What I was obtusely getting at is that we do, it seems, tend to privilege the category of noun over that of verb in terms of what the goal of our philosophy is.

    In other words, we tend to like things stable instead of in motion. And I am, of course, at this point tipping my continental hat to a degree, and I’m fine with whatever names this might incite people to want to call me. :)

  5. Matt,

    I gathered a while ago that you might be a continentalist (what with books looking positively at Derrida, Lyotard, Foucault et al in your recently read books list). But that’s ok, I’ll try not to call you nasty names ;) HA! I appreciate the questions you ask, which is why I keep coming back. Besides analytics like me need to be “awoken from our dogmatic slumber” from time to time.

  6. Peter, I’m glad that you’re willing to cross the analytic-continental chasm a bit. It’s much too wide. Continental philosophy can always use a dose of analytic sobriety and especially clarity!

    I definitely think that continental philosophy excels at the asking of questions, but the “answers” are often less than helpful…

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