The Nonsense of Kant and Lewis Carroll

The Nonsense of Kant and Lewis Carroll

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What if Immanuel Kant floated down from his transcendental heights, straight through Alicea€™s rabbit hole, and into the fabulous world of Lewis Carroll? For Ben-Ami Scharfstein this is a wonderfully instructive scenario and the perfect way to begin this wide-ranging collection of decades of startlingly synthesized thought. Combining a deep knowledge of psychology, cultural anthropology, art history, and the history of religionsa€”not to mention philosophya€”he demonstrates again and again the unpredictability of writing and thought and how they can teach us about our experiences. Scharfstein begins with essays on the nature of philosophy itself, moving from an autobiographical account of the trials of being a comparativist to philosophya€™s function in the outside world to the fear of death in Kant and Hume. From there he explores an impressive array of art: from China and Japan to India and the West; from an essay on sadistic and masochistic body art to one on the epistemology of the deaf and the blind. He then returns to philosophy, writing on Machiavelli and political ruthlessness, then on the ineffable, and closes with a review of Walter Kaufmanna€™s multivolume look at the essence of humanity, Discovering the Mind. Altogether, these essays are a testament to adventurous thought, the kind that leaps to the furthest reaches of the possible.It turns out that all Kanta#39;s views I used to answer the questions on Carroll represent his mature thought. One ofhis books, the Anthropology, was published in 1797, when he gave up teaching the course for which it had long been the manual. It is in the Anthropology that ... of thought in ita€ (p. 73). (Would Kant have approved of Matilda Jane? the Matilda Jane to whom Carroll writes in a poem: a€œ Matilda Janeanbsp;...

Title:The Nonsense of Kant and Lewis Carroll
Author:Ben-Ami Scharfstein
Publisher:University of Chicago Press - 2014-04-04


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