Exile, Occupation, Persecution: The Birth of Philosophers

Bertrand Russell, Typical Philosopher

Time to pick up where I left off last time—why so many of The Greats come from less-than-ideal circumstances. While today’s philosopher is stereotyped as a rather comfortable man in his armchair complete with tweed, pipe, and beard, it seems that most philosophers, especially before Kant, spent some time on the run, hungry, alone, forsaken, and with the law at their heels. For a few of them, there was a jail cell and executioner rather than departmental office and publisher.

I’m all about historical narratives around here, so let’s whip up another one—how philosophers found themselves on the wrong end of The Man: Continue reading

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Underappreciated Philosophers II: Machiavelli

Seriously? Niccolo Machiavelli, one of the most studied, influential, and reviled philosophers ever, underappreciated? Really? Really?

Yup, really. Or, perhaps, misunderstood. If you ask me, you should never take anything in The Prince at face value. It’s not a treatise on government; no, if you’ve read your Plato and your Boethius, you’ll see it for exactly what it is: a sarcastic warning to anyone who might want to become entangled in the affairs of courts and princes. Continue reading

Why the Intern Liked Your Book

Okay, enough with the snark, it’s been done already.  I’m pretty sure a goodly number of the people who read this and aren’t looking for insightful commentary on Yves Klein’s monochromes (which accounts for a shocking amount of the traffic ’round these here parts) will have to publish academic books at some part of their tenured lives.  What follows is a short list of things, from my standpoint as The First Person Who Reads Your Proposal, that you might want to know. Continue reading