Thursday, May 31, 2012

Limited Horizons Published!

My article "Limited Horizons: The Habitual Basis of the Imagination" has been published in the Transactions of the C.S. Peirce Society, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Winter 2011): 71-102.

In short, I claim that if you cannot imagine something, then you cannot experience it as meaningful. As a teacher, I face this in every class wherein the students understand my words, but cannot imagine what the would would be like if they were true, as they struggle to come to grips with them.

In long, I claim that if you cannot imagine a possibility or a line of action, then you cannot experience it as meaningful. The limit of imaginable possibilities is the "horizon" of imagination, and it is limited by what is not imagined or thought but it only signified, the operation of habit. Habit is proximately determined, in as much as that can be said, by sociality, culture, civilization, etc.

Sometimes I tell my students that we philosophers are necromancers of the dead, as we bring mummified ideas to life so that they may live again. Intone the words of this book, and you will know the secrets passed down from the ancients.... We need this because we are so caught in the sorcery of our own culture that only necromancy might turn our heads around to see from what we have come. Sadly, the article is technical and not mythic--no zombies.

If someone is curious about why I herald the danger of aestheticizing everything, as our times are want to do, I have more than a little to say about it in that article. We limit our imaginal horizon to a particular aesthetic, and then "see" goodness with our eyes rather than our hearts or minds and perhaps can no longer tell the difference.


  1. Congrats, Jason. This is exciting. It certainly has been awhile. Just curious, what is your opinion of the Transactions, given recent trends of scholarship in pragmatism?

    Can I plug a review of my book here, just published?

  2. Leon,

    What do you mean by "recent trends" and how is that supposed to be related to an "opinion of the Transactions?"

    I will say that more and more I get the feeling that there are only two journals in which one can reliably publish historically-laden American philosophy, the Transactions and the The Pluralist. My article is in fact, though I dare not write it in print, using the continental technique of commenting on a figure and extending one's own work through commentary. I remain continuous with the historical Dewey and its scholarship, but my article is very far away from being pure textual exegesis. I mention this last point, but not the prior, because outside of continental that approach is frowned upon at the least.

  3. Leon,

    Let me know what you think of it. That should make a lot of my blog posts about scholastic realism clearer by giving you the context in which I was working with it.