Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Beauty and Language: Of Theory and Philosophy and Politics

Schramm accuses me of confusing "theory" and "philosophy." One must always be careful when lodging accusations at lawyers. I do no such thing, and in fact I will demonstrate that it was Schramm who made this characterization.

I stated "I knew Schramm was a theory guy . . . ." Where could I have gotten the idea that Schramm was preoccupied with "theory" rather than "philosophy"? Faithful readers of this page will no doubt recall that this arose not from my pen (or keyboard), but from an entry written by none other than Schramm. In a blog raising questions about what the new campaign laws mean for the Dems, Schramm asks:

"Somebody explain this to me. Simply, clearly, please, I teach theory" (emphasis added).

I personally would have been happy to have attributed Schramm’s diversions to philosophy, but it was Schramm who suggested that his intellectual journey took him not to Athens or even Piraeus, but all the way down to Paris, where theory is in fashion. Forgive me Schramm, know that it is not I that wishes you such a fate.

I must agree with his observation that beauty is inherent, and not in the eyes of the beholder. I would point to the observations of Lewis, and through him to Coleridge. Coleridge observed two tourists viewing a waterfall: one called it "pretty," the other "sublime." Coleridge applauded the one who called it sublime. Contrary to the view of subsequent literary critics, Lewis argues that "sublime" best conveyed the inherent beauty of the thing, and was not an observation of the viewer’s subjective "feelings" about the waterfall. This is true and good. Now on to the beauty of election returns.

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