Sunday, 20 February 2011

Reading Walden

I'm reading Jeffrey S. Cramer's fully annotated edition of "Walden", it's a beautiful book!

Here's some interesting thoughts on the role of the philosopher, and as someone who has left academic circles to live in a closer relationship to contemporary art and literature, I must admit I find these thoughts very-very fascinating.

There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers ... to be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but to so love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically. 

Henry D. Thoreau: Walden (1854)

From experience I know there is a difference between the professor and the philosopher. But solving the problems of life ... practically?! This is a strong order - isn't it?

A professor of philosophy I once knew had stopped reading fiction, he found all he needed in philosophical texts and theoretical articles. I have turned the other way, my reading of theory is minimal these days, almost entirely taken over by fiction and literary essays. I do not think it's smart to choose either/or, but I do think there is being written a lot of nonsense, labeled philosophy, as if it was new thinking. As if it was important -

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