March 13, 2013
"In Praise of Inconsistency" — Leszek Kolakowski
The Polish philosopher's 1963 essay has become celebrated as an iconic statement of belief in the essentially unquantifiable nature of man.
Below, excerpts from his magnificent piece, which my Crack Research Team®™© has so far been unable to locate online in its full unwalled glory.
My team did track down a page that teases you big-time by saying "Click here to read the full text of this article."
But that's just a come-on because after you click you have to download stuff and all, the usual nonsense: FAIL.
Anyone with an open, easy-to-access link to the essay in its entirety, joehead Nation thanks you in advance for sending it on.
YouTube caption for the video up top: "Not too many people have the time for extensive study of philosophy and political science. So why not make it easier for everyone by presenting this Great Encyclopædia? Note that the entries are arranged in alphabetical order just like in any other encyclopedia; however, this is not one of those silly old-fashioned alphabets, but rather a modern deconstructionist one. Everybody will easily understand its merits."
"This article by Leszek Kołakowski (1927-2009) was first published in Polish in the Cracow weekly 'Tygodnik Powszechny' in 1992, and lost nothing of its bite since. It has been translated into English for the first time by Frank L. Vigoda. In a truly postmodernist fashion, Theatre Vigoda liberally used images found on the Internet to illustrate the text."
In Praise of Inconsistency
Inconsistency is simply a secret awareness of the contradictions of this world. By contradictions I mean the fact that the various values are, notoriously throughout history, introduced into society by mutually antagonistic forces. If convictions of the absolute and exclusive superiority of a given value to which all else is subordinate were to spread and be practiced widely, they would of necessity transform the world into an ever-larger battleground — which indeed does occur from time to time. The lack of consistency checks this tendency.
The problem of the antinomy inherent in the principle of tolerance is eternal and eternally unresolved: how to preach and practice tolerance towards ideas and movements which are intolerant. We act against our basic tenet if we silence these ideas and movements by force; we also act against our principle if we tolerate them, for we thus enable them to triumph and destroy the principle of tolerance in social practice. And it is cold comfort under the circumstances to hope that this contradiction will besolved in the process of historical development, either because, having slaughtered all the enemies of tolerance, we shall be able to apply it boundlessly; or else because these movements will in the course of time discard their tolerance. In practical everyday actions and in our daily participation in society, such perspectives help us minimally in making decisions.
These examples are not fictitious. Our lives are bound up in conflicting loyalties that we must choose between in concrete situations. We must break one bond in favor of another, while still not questioning the first. Loyalty to the individual, to one's own outlook on the world, to human communities in which we find ourselves either accidentally or of free choice, loyalty to nations, parties, governments, friends, to ourselves and those close to us, to our own nature and our convictions, to the present and the future, to concrete things and universalities — there are as many insurmountable contradictions as there are loyalties. An authentic synthesis resolving chronic conflicts rarely occurs; most often the supposed synthesis is superficial and fraudulent. We deceive ourselves with it in order to appear consistent, for one of the values instilled in us since childhood is consistency. Our proposition, aimed at making us realize that in these conditions consistency is an ideological fiction, is thus also intended to remove at least one kind of conflict: that which results from a belief in consistency as a value. So, proclaiming the contradictory nature of the world, we strive to attenuate it at least at one point, for, as we see, conflicts multiply because they are not recognized as such. In other words, praise of inconsistency is at the same time the rejection of a specific value, that of the consistent life and that of a basically reasonable one belongs to the species of conflict which may perhaps be removed unilaterally not by synthesis, but by the repudiation of one of the sides to the dispute.
March 13, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "In Praise of Inconsistency" — Leszek Kolakowski:
my brain is starting to hurt again
Posted by: sherlock | Mar 14, 2013 10:19:17 PM
Oh and yes, I am always choosing between conflicting loyalties. I am now letting go of any expectations of consistency. There...I feel much better!
Posted by: tamra | Mar 14, 2013 4:04:29 AM
Welcome to the legion of fans Larry.
Posted by: tamra | Mar 14, 2013 3:56:53 AM
You have the most interesting articles+pictures-YOU, SIR ARE A TRUE INTELLECTUAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: larry ziegler | Mar 13, 2013 6:52:49 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.