Philosophers Behaving Badly

Philosophers Behaving Badly

Mel Thompson, Nigel Rodgers

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0720612195

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Philosophers Behaving Badly

Mel Thompson, Nigel Rodgers

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0720612195

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An engaging and often hilarious survey of the far-from-fusty extra-curricular activities of some of philosophy’s finest practitioners
 
Philosophers Behaving Badly examines the lives of eight great philosophers—Rousseau, whose views on education and the social order seem curiously at odds with his own outrageous life; Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, two giants of the 19th century whose words seem ever more relevant today; and five immensely influential philosophers of the 20th century, Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Sartre, and Foucault.

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have been innate, however, and partly hereditary. Unlike many German philosophers Schopenhauer’s father was no impoverished, high-minded clergyman but a wealthy, cosmopolitan, cultured, very gloomy merchant from Danzig – now Gdansk in Poland, then a German free mercantile city ruled by patrician merchants such as his father Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer. Danzig was, however, threatened by the growing power of Prussia, an aggressively militaristic state. In contrast, Heinrich Schopenhauer admired

plagiarizing his views, an accusation he repeated against many who had been in contact with him.) More importantly, Wittgenstein’s thinking, never wholly dormant in his teaching years, although he actually wrote nothing, was developing in ways that he could not easily communicate. Wittgenstein had already begun moving away from the language-as-picture theory that impressed the Vienna Circle towards an appreciation of the creative function of language and the variety of ways in which it could be

seminars or lectures in self-torturing silence, his face screwed up waiting for the words to emerge The carefully chosen few who attended these seminars – they were never advertised in the normal way – listened enraptured, seldom daring to speak. Wittgenstein’s method of ‘anti-lecturing’ bears some resemblance to Socrates’ early informal approach, but Socrates himself was a man of immense, if ironic, conviviality. A closer parallel is with Plotinus (AD 204–70), the founder of Neoplatonism and one

behave. In this sense, existentialism is neutral on questions about good or bad behaviour. If there is bad behaviour on the part of Heidegger it is his deliberately using his philosophy to endorse a particular political movement, and a movement that many at the time could see as destructive of the whole philosophical and academic milieu within which Heidegger had been happy to develop his thought. Overall, these post-war comments can only be excused for the very worst of reasons, namely that he

was thinking at such a high level of abstraction or generality that the concrete realities, even of genocide, seemed but trivia. It is almost as if Plato’s philosopher, returning to the cave and the fellow prisoners, sees the Holocaust depicted among the images on the back of the cave but considers it no more than an unfortunate and motorized aspect of a life that is altogether superficial. Given that he points to the danger of enframing – taking the objects of experience only as there to be

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