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Book Chapter

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Department 1



As the weeks have come and gone, my inflated expectations for this address have been punctured. I once hoped to take the presidential torch into some unexplored recess of the philosophical cave, there to illuminate an unsuspected cavern that would sparkle with truth. Cut and polished crystals of new truth would be the yield from my address. But then I remembered Whitehead's dictum that "It is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true." Thinking this to be particularly sound advice for one whose role is to close a long day of philosophizing, I decided to set truth aside and work for interest. My address would be a spellbinder; it would fairly crackle with intriguing ideas, ideas that beckon and pique. But then I remembered Wittenstein's sentiment that when a philosopher says something interesting, he should know that something has gone wrong. In desperation, I resolved that if my thoughts would not be true or interesting, they would at least be clear. Surely Wittgenstein could not haunt me, for it was he who said: "Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly." Clarity, limpidity, lucidity-- I would settle for that, and perhaps it is precious enough. [excerpt]

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