ALAS FOR ORIGINAL PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING!
COMMENT ON REYES BERTOLIN CEBRIAN’S REVIEW OF MARCELO D. BOERI’S APARIENCIA Y REALIDAD EN EL PENSAMIENTO GRIEGO.
I have to warn the reader that my comment is strictly idiotic. If the reader is not willing to bear with my idiocy let her or him not read one more word.
I find many phrases in Professor Cebrian’s review disturbing from the point of view of one who pursues philosophy not as a profession but as a personal mania. A philosopher philosophizes because s/he is haunted by nagging questions about reality and the meaning of life which to think about is constant irritation and to forget about is moral death. How sad it is that philosophy is no longer that holy madness but a respectable trade neatly parcelled out in distinct disciplines and sub-disciplines so that Professor Cebrian can find the book reviewed “intended mostly for other philosophers and students of philosophy” and would not necessarily “appeal to students in classics”.
I have no intention of belittling the value of the work done in the specialized disciplines of philosophy and classics departments. But the situation in the study of philosophy is as if professors of English Literature were to think that their academic work took the place of original, creative poetry and drama and fiction.
Professor Cebrian does not state it expressly, but one clearly senses that he finds it a fault that Professor Boeri’s “analysis is focused on primary texts.” Again I must say that I have nothing against engaging secondary literature and filling a book or article with citations of scholars “in the body of the text or in the footnotes”. But when an author explicitly announces it as his purpose to enter into “a critical dialogue with the ancient philosophers”, are we not to permit him to do that? (Personally, I prefer to speak of a creative dialogue rather than a critical dialogue.) How much engagement with secondary literature do you find in Hume or the daunting Kant or even Whitehead? I cannot help sensing the same note of disapproval in Professor Cebrian’s closing sentence: “The book remains a personal interpretation of some aspects of Plato’s, Aristotle’s and Stoic philosophies.” To me that makes it all the more a genuine work of philosophy.
D. R. Khashaba