Monday, February 20, 2006

Lives Of The Mind

Having reread Lives Of The Mind by Roger Kimball -- it takes more than one reading for me to absorb material that abstract -- I was struck by the tawdriness of the biographies of the last two centuries of philosophers. Illegitimate children, fascinations with 14 year-olds, exaggerated self-regard, an almost fawning willingness to collaborate with evil governments -- there seems a higher-than-expected percentage of all of these.

We are all subject to a world of temptations, and we should perhaps not expect philosophers to be much better than we are. But should they be so much worse? These are the people -- the Rousseaus, Hegels, Heidiggers, deMans, Foucaults, Kierkegaards, Schopenhauers -- who are telling us how to live.

Is their intense abstraction a mere intellectualization, an attempt to escape from the zoos of their own hearts?

1 comment:

DRJ said...

i'm currently reading an anthology of great philosophical works (which, by the way, works quite well to help me fall asleep), and I think the answer is Yes.