2
NEW BEGINNINGS AND OUR SITUATION: PARADOXES OF REASON AND EXPERIENCE

I. To attempt a radically new beginning is not to try to begin entirely de novo: we begin rather from a cognitive situation that in some respects satisfies us and in others puzzles us, and we try to transform it from within.

We are naturally wary of any proposal to attempt a radically new beginning. For one thing, it seems to raise once more the tiresome delusion of an indefeasible starting point for philosophy--a state of pure certainty like that Descartes thought to be necessary for knowledge. And even if we should not go so far as to regard this as a delusion, we might still fear, having the contemporary preoccupation with the philosophy of philosophy constantly before us, an endless and neurotic preparation that becomes an end in itself: a puritanical niceness that keeps us from the honest piecemeal jobs that the world affords in abundance. There is also the fear that all this scrupulosity is in fact a screen for subjective forces that have already decided for us the position we shall at length take up: it is all too likely that the real beginning has been made long ago and in a different place, and that we are in fact only escap

-12-

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