Read anything by John Rawls—sorry, Whitlock, the political philosopher and not the jerky cop from The Wire—and one of two things will probably happen. His crystallized intelligence will either throw up an impenetrable barrier between his ideas and your ability to get to his next sentence, or that intelligence will pull you on, through one of the great journeys in political thought. He’s not easy, in other words, but he’s great, and his seminal work painstakingly and brilliantly details how to organize society as fairly as possible. So, the answer to life, the universe, and everything, give or take, while ordinary folk like you and me face decision paralysis over which RSS client to use. It is important to understand that John Rawls was much smarter than us. It is impossible to read what he wrote and not understand that.
On most Saturdays, the shy, private Rawls would spend hours typing letters recalling past events in astounding detail. One such letter, republished by Boston Review, recalled a conversation he had some twenty years earlier—you probably had conversations with sentient beings today who have lived shorter than that—about why baseball is the best sport. In the letter, Rawls credits his interlocutor, Harry Kalven, for coming up with six reasons why baseball is “the best of all games.” Rawls had a penchant for ascribing his own brilliance to the minds of others, either out of intellectual generosity or a clever ruse to deflect criticism. Considering that he experienced plenty of criticism nonetheless, it was either an ineffective attempt at the latter or successful version of the former.
You would think, then, for Rawls—given his massive intellect and habit of applying that intellect to much nobler pursuits—that tackling something as trivial as baseball would be a weekend thing requiring very little exertion. There’s just one problem: his vision of the game just does not reflect the typical level of otherworldly intelligence I had come to expect from the American philosophical giant. In fact, it can best be described as inventing the oxymoronic genre of McCarverian eloquence. … Read More
(via The Classical)