But can he converse whilst dancing?
Posted by Helen on January 25, 1998 at 10:06:11:
In response to Any savage can dance..., written by Patrick on January 22, 1998 at 17:44:51
] [S&S is] where I get my most defined impression of Austen as very much in favour of balance, and very against emotional attachments formed without rational consideration or concern for society.
] Here I must protest the lumping together of "rational consideration" and "concern" - since it is quite possible to argue that concern for society is expressible through the forging of emotional attachments. Such attachments, arguably, could be better for society than "rational consideration" of anything. I'm not claiming that at here - only pointing out that it is in principle possible.
Ah well, Patrick, according to my reading of S&S, it is the characters in that book who lump together rational consideration and concern for social norms. So I suggest you take this particular debate up with a certain Ms. Austen... ;-)
I've been thinking about your post, and I've decided to avoid a point by point discussion, because if we get off JA and onto the question of civilisation's greatest achievements, we are straying somewhat from the topic of this board. Is our difference of opinion perhaps the result of a different perspective from arts/sciences education? I don't see analysis, and suchlike things, as the domain of scientific measurement alone, but as part of people's response to their experiences, articulated through a process which transforms those experiences into something else - a verbal creation or one's own life. And my background in Renaissance thought leads me to value a reasoned response to a text. You argue, and I agree with you, that emotional and/or unarticulate responses to texts/life can be a good thing, and I agree with you. But what happens when they are not? How, for instance, do we overcome prejudices, or instinctive responses eg. violence? Don't you think that thought-processes can be helpful in such endeavours? Analysing what we read - calling attention to its contents - is surely a good thing, in that it shows us whether we have read correctly, and how the effects we admire are achieved. The list of activities you describe as "activities which make us human" are, IMO, all improved by applying to them some degree of analysis. Planting gardens, for instance: when do you plant things? How close together? Do they need attention? These decisions are usually greatly improved by not being totally random. For me, a thought-process is any means by which the mind deals with information actively, rather than just passively storing/quoting. It doesn't have to be only that which can be expressed as a logical syllogism.
I can't believe that I am ranging myself here on the side of reason. Normally I advocate wonder and emotion to people who only see the rational. But then, I do believe in balance. I think one side without the other leads to distortion, and hence has bad consequences - you need to balance the two, and more importantly, to synthesize them, not oppose them.
One minor question, re. Lizzy, Darcy and marriage: do you think that JA herself really didn't think marriage necessary? Or do you think that she was limited by her historical moment to construct relationships in that way?
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