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Showing posts from January, 2014

Schopenhauer on Hegel: "A flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan."

There's nothing like a good insult or two, and if you're looking for insults in philosophy, you need look no further than Arthur Schopenhauer's comments on his German contemporary, the much more popular and successful Friedrich Hegel. 
Schopenhauer suggested as a motto of Hegel’s philosophy some words of Shakespeare: ‘such stuff as madmen tongue and brain not’.
He added:
"Hegel, installed from above, by the powers that be, as the certified Great Philosopher, was a flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan, who reached the pinnacle of audacity in scribbling together and dishing up the craziest mystifying nonsense. This nonsense has been noisily proclaimed as immortal wisdom by mercenary followers and readily accepted as such by all fools, who thus joined into as perfect a chorus of admiration as had ever been heard before. The extensive field of spiritual influence with which Hegel was furnished by those in power has enabled him to achieve the intellectual co…

On land

A note on ignorance from Kant

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is a hugely impressive (but fiendishly difficult) treatment of our knowledge and ignorance.
One of its more clear and plainly-written segments comes in a Note to a section entitled: ‘The Transcendental Ideal’. In this, Kant writes:
“The investigations and calculations of astronomers have taught us much that is wonderful; but the most important lesson we have received from them is the discovery of the abyss of our ignorance in relation to the universe – an ignorance, the magnitude of which reason, without the information thus derived, could never have conceived. This discovery of our deficiencies must produce a great change in the determination of the aims of human reason.”
There is a crucial point here for all of us, that the deficiencies in our claims to knowledge are as much if not more important than all our achievements.
Too often we assume that our knowledge is all-pervading or at least at some point in the future will be all-pervading. B…

On the Political – immigration and Chantal Mouffe’s challenge to liberal orthodoxy