Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Disagreeing with Thinkers


In what I believe was a review of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason on the website goodreads.com, a reviewer expressed the wise insight that we read thinkers/philosophers not so much to agree with them but precisely the opposite. 

It is in disagreeing with or at least qualifying and moderating the strong angles offered by thinkers that we may come to sharpen our own thinking and awareness of our particular sensibility, provided the disagreement or nuancing is the fruit of not a superficial, blanket rejection but a careful consideration and evaluation of the words - written or spoken - of the thinker in question.

In fact I have done this with great benefit to myself in the case of thinker Friedrich Nietzsche (Morality and the Big & Powerful and Relative Failure of the Nietzschean Project) - whose words I used to take as gospel initially and for a long while afterwards - and, to a lesser extent, by nuancing or qualifying Mark Passio's more extreme positions (Mark Passio and the Chess Game, Dual Nature of Natural Law). 

Thinking, like music, is never set for all time and is open to continuous interpretation, correction and amendment and to want to police thinking or bring it to a halt or stand-still, just like wanting to police art and bring it to a fixed state of existence, is to kill it (for, as Nietzsche wrote, life, which manifests in both art and thought, is that which overcomes itself again and again). 

I will view the 'thoughts' section of my blog as having been of some benefit to others if these others, in disagreeing with or nuancing my positions and angles - whose partial, biographical and flawed nature I readily admit (Disclaimer about this Blog - My Rubbish) - gain in self-understanding by their so doing.

And it could be said with some honesty that philosophical discourse, however well-argued, intricate, logical, sensitive and thoughtfully executed, is, at bottom, opinion-based (some would even say simply 'glorified opinion'), in the sense of offering one fragmentary angle out of countless other options on the mysteries and complexities of existence (for more elaboration see post Thinking v Opining).

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