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Fr. 523

June 12, 2014

On the likeness between the individual distortion of worldviews indexed to personal points of view and that of old panes of glass.

Another approach to Taylor’s indexed personal vision might be found in the placing of individual in conjunction with an image. If selves have, for Taylor, sides and sides, are, for Habermas, a reflection of the objective social world in the coming together of diverse fibers, and are, for Stout, a principle or “prius” (in the sense of that which comes before), these are all interpretations which must be justified as such. Habermas’ does have a certain appeal when refined or coarsened as the case may be. Reflection implies a reflective surface of which the most common is a mirror. Though most mass-produced mirrors are flawless in their fidelity of reflection, older mirrors of glass or polished metals bore within themselves distortions (pops, cracks, dark spots, scuffing, etc.), such that the reflection was only more or less faithful. It is perhaps tempting to consider individuals as distortions of this kind, owing to the contingent factors of identity formation.

Were we to lend further substance to this image, we might instead compare the individual to old, hand-blown or -crafted panes of glass, which carried similar flaws or distortions in function of materials (notably, the quality of the sand), temperature, tolls, method, time, and so forth. Hence, when assembled into a single casement, the sunlight filters through each pane somewhat differently. Indeed, each pane, in virtue of its particular and contingent constitution, throws the streaming light onto the nearby surface in a different way than that of any other. This constitutes a sort of individual filter, which, on occasion and with the right conditions, we can pick out with the naked eye: scaling, marbling, squaring, threading, whorling, bubbling, etc.

Although the light filtered is the same for all, each individual pattern renders this same light onto the relevant surface in different fashion. There is no way to get beyond or behind the pane or to do without because the light has neither substance nor significance in its absence. It ceases to be an instance of a window when the individual panes are removed, for there is nothing more of which we can speak.

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