Tuesday, July 03, 2012


I have been enjoying Bertrand Russell's magnificent History of Western Philosophy - his quintessencially English waspishness on the distasteful continental metaphysical systems is very amusing. And, I can't help it, sense making. I suppose I'm so hopelessly and thoroughly anglophile that I can't avoid appreciating common sense empirism and rationality. Of course, Russell is hugely unfair towards the German idealistic tradition and clearly doesn't seem, for example, to get the point of Mad Friedrich, who, whatever else can be said of him, certainly had a point. But the others certainly could have been clearer and more amusing - I have always been partial to Kant, the most liberal of the Germans, but usually cannot make head or tail of his prose and rely on thinkers who can express themselves in some clarity and even humour even on such a humourless and byzantine subject as Kant's thought.

Nevertheless, as much as I appreaciate the cool and clear English/British common sense analytical thought, it is easy to see that it leaves  much out of our human experience of being in the world. And I suppose we do need, in part, some complicated metaphysics to get deeper insights of this radical experience. But it is very easy to get over the top (think of Hegel) and out of the shared empirical world completely. Heidegger comes to mind as someone who very deceptively seems to make deep sense, fundamentally, but who obviously to a high extent, actually doesn't. So, these complicated systems will need waspish common sense correctives and the insights of more concrete, more empirically rooted philosophies.

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