The BM Epilogue as a Theory of Knowledge

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  • 19 Mar 2016 at 9:57 am #8224

    Glass
    Member

    With synthetic a posterior judgments, my knowledge is amplified. When I go to Morocco for the first time, my concept of Morocco is expanded. I synthesize the subject “Morocco” with my new experiences, learning something that I didn’t know before. This is the magicians theory of knowledge. Every magician knows that you can’t pull a rabbit out of a hat without first putting it into the hat. There’s nothing in the mind, according to the empiricists that wasn’t first put there. That’s empiricism. The rule of the magician.

    (Levi Bryant, Larval Subjects 3-1-16)

    …striking fire out of the rock which God has put there.

    (Epilogue, Blood Meridian)

    Reading a blogpost by the philosopher Levi Bryant on Kant and a priori judgments, I instantly thought of the Epilogue with Bryant’s idea about empirical knowledge in the line about the magician, the rabbit and the hat. The idea draws an analogy between putting the rabbit in the hat and the theory of knowledge first made famous by John Locke that the mind is a blank slate at birth, the so-called tabula rasa.

    I would like to draw my own analogies here: Bryant’s magician putting the rabbit in the hat is analogous to God putting the fire in the rock in the Blood Meridian Epilogue. Moreover, the man on the plain who uses a tool to strike fire out of the rock in the Epilogue is analogous and allusive to Socrates using a stick to draw geometric figures in the dirt in order to tease out the innate knowledge of Meno’s slave boy in the Plato dialogue Meno.

    The man on the plain in Blood Meridian is making perfect holes, while Socrates is making squares. Both are engaged in the pursuit of knowledge or making demonstrations about it, stirring and enkindling things that are already known, already put there. How do we come to the notions that we have? Do we simply recollect what we already know as Socrates argues — “all learning is recollection” — or do we come to knowledge solely through experience? Put there, like the fire in the rock or the rabbit in the magician’s hat.

    I will build on this basic idea in a couple of posts to follow that will highlight a few more of the most intriguing affinities between the Epilogue and Plato’s Meno in order to strengthen my argument that one valid interpretation of the Epilogue is that it is a theater of sorts in which to view acquisition of knowledge, an epistemological take. I believe there is strong textual support for this idea. Those who search, those who don’t.


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    • This topic was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  Glass.
    19 Mar 2016 at 8:10 pm #8227

    cantona
    Member

    Peter:

    This is really interesting. I really like the magician/knowledge analogy: the theatrical genius trickster who knows how to bring forth what’s already there. Are you going to say that the judge is like this? More, please!


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    20 Mar 2016 at 2:40 pm #8228

    Glass
    Member

    Jim:

    Thanks! I will have more and I did have some ideas about the judge along those lines. Hoping to post something later today.


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    25 Mar 2016 at 8:37 am #8237

    Toni
    Member

    “. . .striking fire out of the rock which God has put there.”

    That always reminds me of this line from the Vernon Watkins poem
    for Dylan Thomas:

    “Sleeps in the heart of the rock all that a god would restore.”


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    25 Mar 2016 at 6:26 pm #8244

    Glass
    Member

    Toni: That is really nice.

    I am still hoping to add a few more notes that will flesh out my initial post on knowledge, Meno and the Epilogue. Life keeps getting in the way, unfortunately.

    Added: In the spirit of resonant quotes, here is one from HP Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror that reminds me of when Holden is meditating on the Anasazi at the ruins:

    “The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.


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