RIP Philippa Foot (1920 – 2010)

It has come to my knowledge that Philippa Foot has died. Foot’s philosophical career reflected a great sea change in the character of 20th Century philosophy. While I’m sure that many qualified persons will address the impact of her life and works; it should be pointed out that Foot, alongside the likes of Hursthouse and Anscombe were responsible for the revival of Aristotle’s moral theory in a time when taking Aristotle seriously was highly suspect. Foot was also known for her engagement in the philosophical question of ‘Why be moral?’ This is pertains to an issue of how one may try to convince a hypothetical amoralist to behaving alongside agreed ethical standards, and concerning the rationality of morality. This particular issue was greatly influential on one of my Ethics tutors at Bristol during my undergraduate years. Foot will perhaps most famously be known for the so-called ‘trolley problem’. Foot’s life should be remembered for an important contribution to 20thC Ethical philosophy.

Verstehen truths

Who is the real Destre? Some people say it’s Michael, others, one of the other areopagites repeated, but, what does it really matter? Oscar Wilde wrote on the importance of deception and face management as a way of portraying some kind of other reality of a person.

When Liberace died, many were curious about the nature of his death. Liberace was a beloved celebrity in the United States and beyond, representing a certain kind of mindset or kitcsh. For many, he was a cultural icon, for a certain demographic, he was the face of a new wave of technology that was otherwise unfriendly and inaccessible. The legacy of Liberace, unlike that of Sinatra, will not last, and did not last with much warmth after his death.

Why was this? A large speculation is that many peole inquired into the cause of his death. A media frenzy then came of this issue, of how, or why he died. It then became that the man’s reputation, which he took his life to build, was destroyed by the suggestion that he was a homosexual. With that, his career ended in a way that not even his own could have taken away. I see today in the news of some rumours about John Lennon; all interesting for the newspapers to get us buying and watching.

It got me to consider the whole importance of face management in social interactions. In many professions, and to the identity of many social individuals, reptuation, and image, is everything. Perhaps it is that impetus to understand our fascination with trying to find celebrities with their pants down (figuratively and literally). Those icons who work hard to their eminent status and those individuals who have by means of their own effort and goodfill have achieved a status, or did a service, or entertained in ways few people could ever do, are those individuals we are so fascinated in dishing the dirt about.

A galpal once told me, and I think is apt. Everyone has dirty laundry. I was with Michael at the time and he just kept sniggering about a certain person in the room, who had notably dirty laundry. Immaturity aside, the serious point is that we could all find something shambolic and embarrassing about others, perhaps the shambolic and embarrassing thing can be that they have no interesting lives.

If there is an image that can be shattered, the pieces of its shattered glass clearly show that the image was not a false one. The shaming of individuals is mere self-indulgence. Because truths about the self are truths of a different domain of facts than those normal ones we think of. To say there are ‘truths’ about a person is not to speak in a domain of facts, but within an ellipsis. It is, to invoke a pun. A verstehen turth of a person that may or may not be truth-apt, bit far from it is it to assume truth-aptness as a tacit and necessary condition.

Antisophie (and Sinistre*)