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February 13, 2006

moral imagination

Just peeking at the introduction to a collection of essays, The Grammar of Politics, which attempts to apply Wittgenstein's reputedly conservative politics to more radical practices.

A quote from his later work speaks to my writing students and to my own linguistic evolution (if I can be so bold as to hope certain changes are an improvement).

"But how many kinds of sentences are there? . . . There are countless kinds. . . . And this multiplicity is not something fixed, given once and for all; but new types of language, new language-games, as we may say, come into existence, and others become obsolete and forgotten. . . . Here the term 'language-game' is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a form of life. (PI $ 23)" (p 5-6).

A bit later, the term "moral imagination" (coined by Sabina Lovibond) is introduced to describe a commitment "for creating and sustaining immanent yet sometimes oppositional political languages" (6-7). Indeed (referencing James Tully's Political Philosophy as Critical Activity, and aligning with Quentin Skinner, Charles Taylor, Jonathan Havercroft, & David Owen), "This approach starts from the rough ground of practice rather than theory: from political language games that are experienced as problematic and are called into question to become the site of struggle" (8).

The goal of such engagement (genealogical in some respects) is "to change our conventional way of looking at problems in which we are entangled and to enable us to think differently about them" (9).

Posted by Steph at February 13, 2006 4:10 PM

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