By Zaine Ridling

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33 One need not think, that is, that (ordinary) language is hopeless and that the best thing we can do is get rid of it in favor of something clearer and more serviceable. One can think of the definition of a new, artificial jargon (not as an attempt at bypassing language altogether, but) as a detour through more comprehensible structures that will eventually make us able to understand language, the very language with which we started. Russell’s talk of uncovering the “logical form” of our statements goes in this direction, and so does, even more explicitly, Carnap’s program in (1934).

Which problem becomes especially troublesome when we realize that there might be an ambiguity between anything we mean by an expression and what God means by it: Therefore in what way are You both merciful and not merciful, Lord, if not because You are merciful according to us, and not according to Yourself? Indeed You are [merciful] according to our sense, and are not according to Yours. (I 106 P98) [T]he supreme essence is so much above and beyond every other nature that, if something is said of It by words that are common to other natures, the sense is by no means common.

Rational enlightenment will not come at once to humankind, the way revelation did; it will, rather, consist of an unending effort, of a constant struggle, never quite victorious but still relentlessly progressing, against all the confusion in which we are immersed, all the nonsense that our weak, sinful race has been burdened with, probably as a punishment for its sin. “Our present life is a journey. For as long as man lives, all he does is travel” (V 365). One is always on the move, and one is never going to reach one’s destination, so the only acceptable course of action is to continue to strive for it: “[I]t is necessary that those who always want to avoid failure, always strive to do better” (III 274 E307; see also IV 69).

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Anselm and the Logic of Illusion by Zaine Ridling


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