We can question the possibility of acting or we can act, but we cannot do both at once. Classic writers make an unspoken choice: they act. Rather than discuss the possibility of action, they put that possibility to the test and let the reader be the judge.
When we open a cookbook, we completely put aside – and expect the author to put aside – the kind of question that leads to the heart of certain philosophic and religious traditions. Is it possible to talk about cooking? Do eggs really exist? Is food something about which knowledge is possible? Can anyone else ever tell us anything true about cooking? These questions may lead to enlightenment or to satori; they do not lead to satisfying dinners. Readers of cookbooks expect to see cooking treated directly, as if such metaphysical and epistemological questions could never be entertained by anyone, even though we know they can be and have been entertained by saints and sages. We do not expect the writer to be immobilized by preliminary discussions of whether it is possible to talk about ‘cooking’, if such a thing even exists. Classic style similarly puts aside as inappropriate philosophical questions about its enterprise. If it took those questions up, it could never get around to treating its subject, and its purpose is exclusively to treat its subject.
Clear and simple as the truth, writing classic prose, Francis-Noël Thomas & Mark Turner