What is philosophy, and who gets to say?

3 01 2011

The attitude of philosophers towards their readers has completely changed. It is no longer the truth they speak, but more rather the reader and the writer who become the principal object of their preoccupation. They themselves confess that they always hope, for their own sake, that the reader will approve of their opinions. What is still more important is that the reader for whom they write is no longer the philosopher, but rather that vague individual called the man of good sense on some occasions, the cultivated man on others, and the general reader on others. Compare that procedure with that of Aristotle or of St. Thomas. The Discourse on Method is essentially a rhetorical work. It was also one of the first appeals to unformed man precisely as he is unformed, an appeal which will some day shine forth in the appeal to the unformed masses insofar as they are unformed.
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