Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Scrutonizing" modern philosophers ...

Christopher Blosser offers a bit of humor ("Scrutonizing the Moderns," Against the Grain, October 18, 2010) from a book he just finished re-reading by Roger Scruton, entitled A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein. Scruton, he says, has a dry, sardonic (characteristically English?) wit. Several examples:
  • On Fichte: "Fichte's philosophy rests not so much in argument as in impetuous explosions of jargon, in which that fabricated verb "to posit" (setzen) kaleidoscopes into a thousand self-reflecting images."
  • On Schopenhauer: "Schopenhauer enjoyed his pessimistic conclusions too much to convince the reader that he really believed in them; and his sardonic assaults on popular prejudice reveal a far greater attachment to life than to the renunciation he officially favored."
  • On Heidegger: "[T]he reader has the impression that never before have so many words been invented and tormented in the attempt to express the inexpressible."
Nevertheless, such quips are not to be taken as outright dismissals, he says, since Scruton does take painstaking effort to read and explicate the chief ideas of each.

[Hat tip to C.B.]

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