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Two Beginnings: An Overture in the First Person

Two Beginnings: An Overture in the First Person

(p.9) Chapter One Two Beginnings: An Overture in the First Person
Creatively Undecided
Menachem Fisch
University of Chicago Press

The chapter describes how the project of Creatively Undecided evolved out of my earlier work. The works of George Peacock, William Whewell, John Herschel and W. R. Hamilton I studied during the 1990s ended up defying the marked Popperian and Collingwoodian perspective to which I was committed. The creative, yet painfully split hybridic accounts of science and mathematics they produced bespoke a profound normative inner struggle that challenged my philosophical commitments. Philosophical work on Popper’s identification of rationality and criticism alerted me to criticism’s inherent normative constraints, namely, that one could not criticize the norms employed in criticizing, which supposedly rendered them immune to critical reflection. The key was to realize that normative criticism from without could render one ambivalent to the norms it challenged, and hence susceptible to self-criticism. The chapter concludes with a brief description of the philosophical account of the transformative impact of such criticism presented in The View from Within of 2011, on which the present study builds.

Keywords:   Karl Popper, R.G. Collingwood, George Peacock, William Whewell, normative ambivalence

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