And this is where I jump the shark. Dante’s understandable—he at least wrote a couple of philosophical treatises, he gets an entry in the Cambridge Companion to Medieval Philosophy—but Borges? The whacked-out Argentinian surrealist writer of trippy short stories with a weird obsession with tigers and labyrinths? The man who never wrote anything over fifteen pages? The man who said that metaphysics is really just a branch of the literature of fantasy? Seriously? Seriously?
Nicolás Menza, El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths), 2000.
First, his poetry’s awesome, so shuddup. Second, you have to read his essays to really make sense of his short stories and poetry (assuming you’d actually want to, rather than just enjoying the Weird). Third, his essay on Ramon Llull is both the inspiration for this underrated philosophers series and why I’m not doing one on Llull, much as I’d like to; it wouldn’t be as good as the one that already exists. Fourth, there are lots of philosophers who love Borges, some of whom even organize traveling art exhibits based on his work.*
But, as a philosopher…well, he may be the only absolute idealist worth reading. Granted, there aren’t a lot of absolute idealists (Borges, Berkley, and…um…uhh…), and Berkley’s bad crazy, but that’s beside the point (kinda). What isn’t beside the point is what happens when an absolute idealist goes blind and starts writing fiction. Continue reading
This, perhaps more than anything else, may be my biggest scholarly disagreement with how philosophy is practiced today. Sure, I have much bigger gripes on a personal and professional level—the casual sexism for starters—but this is less depressing.
Philosophy has a history, and its history shapes how we do things. The problem is that each side of the philosophical turf war has its own narrative, and these narratives . . . well, they’ve got issues. Continue reading
Google Penance—in which I atone for all the strange things I wrote that lead people here.
“Medieval Marginalia/Yves Klein X, W, and V:” yup, this is how most people find me. Boy I’m glad I can claim fair use for those images—I mean, I’m pretty sure none of them are under an actionable copyright, but . . .
“Brian Leiter is an Ass(hole):” a near-universal sentiment, it seems. There are others who say it more articulately than me, others who can use more rage, but one understands the feeling. Sure the PGR’s a sham with more unwarranted assumptions and obvious biases than you can shake a stick at, sure the man can, by all accounts, be just a bit nasty, sure philosophical naturalism’s a joke, especially in law, but hey. I’m sure there’s something nice that someone could/should say about him, even if I can’t think of it.
“Are Philosophers Weird People?” Have you read anything I’ve written? Have you ever met a philosopher? Are bears Catholic? Does the Pope . . . well, okay. Yes. We’re weird.
It’s no secret that philosophers are often odd people. They also write strangely sometimes, too.
“No, really? We didn’t notice.” Yes, I know philosophical writing is notoriously bad—there’s a reason I put a pot leaf sticker on my copy of Heidegger’s Being and Time*—but some philosophers (oddly enough, often the ones who could actually write) use very odd formats for their works. Though several philosophers have peculiar styles they’re associated with—Plato’s dialogues, Nietzsche’s aphorisms, Aquinas’ disputed questions—two thinkers seem to have writings that beg to be dealt with in a way electronic publishing could do a better job of than print media ever could.