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Once we make certain discoveries, it becomes difficult to state them as propositional knowledge. Or even to state what question the discovery was the solution to. Because we ourselves have changed as a result (roughly the point of a digression of Cavell's in "Aesthetic Problems of Modern Philosophy"):

"The more one learns, so to speak, the hang of oneself, and mounts one's problems, the less one is able to say what one has learned; not because you have forgotten what it was, but because nothing you said would seem like an answer or a solution: there is no longer any question or problem which your words would match. You have reached conviction, but not about a proposition; and consistency, but not in a theory. You are different, what you recognize as problems are different, your world is different" (85-6).


This analogizes philosophical problem-solving to therapeutic problem-solving, but it's not clear that the description is true of both, always. Or that the reasons for the dissolution or disappearance of the problem are parallel.

When one solves one's personal problems, the ones that seemed like insoluble mysteries, sometimes the problems do disappear; but usually one can say what the solution was, if there was one. Oftentimes fitting poorly with one's environment makes us think there's some deep problem within ourselves that vanishes when we find new jobs, places, neighbors, or relationships. The problem dissolves because it was caused by something external to oneself in the first place. You aren't different, necessarily, but your world is. (You might be different in that you have firmer ideas about what your scene is.) But the wrongness of a certain environment or path or person is still something one can state, even after the problem has dissolved.

For philosophical problems, it's somewhat different. The problems seem to arise in this way: when we first learn abstract concepts, they seem to present us with many possible problems, incompatibilities, paradoxes. It becomes puzzling how the world could ever have come together out of piles of opposites. But this is a view from 'above'; on the ground, concepts aren't so monolithic. The learning that resolves our paradoxes is simply detailed experience of life--and life with language--on the ground; in its minutiae, in its (ugh) ordinariness.

Some people, no doubt, address themselves to problems that seem to be both simultaneously. A young person's philosophical worries are tinged with the wrongness of his or her life thus far. Many of the questions I used to care about seem inane now. Those that remain concern the nature of inquiry and discovery, and the nature of thought and experience. These things are interesting because they are so complex that philosophers' accounts invariably leave things out. The questions I still care about arise from complexity, rather than from from stark oversimplification.

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