Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scrutonizing the Moderns

Recently finished re-reading Scruton's A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein. Being out of an academic environment so long I'm getting a bit rusty, so I found this to be a good "refresher." Quite humorous too: Scruton has such 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."
Such quips are not to be taken as outright dismissals, however, as he does take painstaking effort to read and explicate the chief ideas of each.

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