Philosophical Review 110 (2):275-278 (2001)

Arguably, there is no gesture more typical to philosophy than its repudiation, the sense that philosophical endeavor is a symptom of the pathologies or dislocations of everyday life it seeks to remedy. Throughout the nineteenth century—in the writings of the German Romantics, Young Hegelians, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche—the repudiation of philosophy is a constant. Sometimes this repudiation takes a reflective form in which traditional philosophical claims are translated into another vocabulary, or are deflated ; sometimes alternative methods are adopted that attempt to undermine, explain away, what is thought of as uniquely philosophical; sometimes rhetorical strategies are adopted that aim to bring about a “conversion” in the reader away from philosophy and toward a more fully immanent or existential self-understanding; and sometimes that more everyday self-understanding that is to be the antidote to philosophical reflection is construed as not yet available but would come to be in an ideal or utopian future if particular radical transformations of current practices were accomplished. Apart from Kierkegaard, these attempts typically construe themselves as continuous with the critique of religion, as if philosophy were nothing but religious excess in rational dress, and thus continuous with modernity’s drive toward secularity. Because the stakes of repudiation are inevitably normative—the protest against philosophy for the sake of a more “realistic,” more truly natural or historical, conception of what is rational or good—the critique of philosophy becomes, despite itself, philosophical, burdened with presuppositions it can neither sustain nor forgo. In brief, this is the lesson of Daniel Brudney’s meticulous and patient excavation of the writings of the young Marx.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0031-8108
DOI phr2001110230
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