Programmatic remarks

The purpose of this blog will be to help me chart the progress of my thesis. More specifically, I hope it will be useful in allowing me to track the continuities in what I have been researching and otherwise thinking about. Heidegger once said something to the effect that a person only ever has one good idea, and I am inclined to agree with the spirit of this remark even if in letter it is rather hyperbolic. Assuming there’s something in that, in my own case I haven’t quite worked out what that good idea is but I believe I have a vague grasp of what it would be about: namely, normative authority. Upon realising that it is this topic that has threaded through most of my philosophical interests, I was struck by the desire to get a better handle on the development of my thought — to see more clearly how, at different times, it hangs together (or, indeed, fails to do so). Admittedly, since then it has been a fair while before setting up this blog so as to facilitate this task, inter alia. Nonetheless, I trust that it will still be useful for this purpose and will allow me to better understand the issues that I seem to circle around continually; and, whatsmore, I hope to figure out why it is that I am drawn to these issues and to chart the relationships between the occasionally disparate areas of philosophy they inhabit.

With these aims in mind, to begin with posts will probably be synoptic, self-indulgent and unambitious. Thus, they will likely be of minimal interest to anyone else who happens to find their way here. Perhaps, in time, I will progress to writing something a little more adventurous, but for now my aims remain modest.

A quick note on the title. It is, of course, a reference to Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten). The ‘groundwork’ at issue is not the foundation itself but rather the work of its construction. It has a two-fold relevance here. Firstly, it marks out my central interest in what, if any, foundation can be given to normative claims. Secondly, it refers to my task: the activity of clearing the rubble and building some sort of stable base for my own project.

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