Monday, 23 June 2008

Pessoa and Work

AP-3 from Pessoa's Book of Disquiet:
The anguish of a man afflicted by life's tedium on the terrace of his opulent villa is one thing; quite another is the anguish of someone like me, who must contemplate the scenery from my fourth-floor rented room in downtown Lisbon, unable to forget that I'm an assistant bookkeeper.

'Tout notaire a rêvé de sultanes'...

Every time I'm obliged by some official act to state my profession, I smile to myself at the irony of the undeserved ridicule when I declare 'office clerk' and no one finds it all strange. I don't know how it got there, but that's how my name appears in the Professional Register.

Epigraph to the Diary:
Guedes (Vincente), office clerk, Rua dos Retroseiros, 17, fourth floor.
Professional Register of Portugal

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Hayek and Rationality

A quote of Hayek's found on the Language Log:

[Constructivist rationalism] produced a renewed propensity to ascribe the origin of all institutions of culture to invention or design. Morals, religion and law, language and writing, money and the market, were thought of as having been deliberately constructed by somebody, or at least as owing whatever perfection they possessed to such design. …

Yet... [m]any of the institutions of society which are indispensible conditions for the successful pursuit of our conscious aims are in fact the result of customs, habits or practices which have been neither invented nor are observed with any such purpose in view.

Man... is successful not because he knows why he ought to observe the rules which he does observe, or is even capable of stating all these rules in words, but because his thinking and acting are governed by rules which have by a process of selection been evolved in the society in which he lives, and which are thus the product of the experience of generations.