December 5, 2009

A Lived Philosophy

Justin Katz

Apart from the whole review from which it comes — by Thomas Hibbs, of David Walsh — this paragraph offers a worthwhile point of reflection on a rainy Saturday afternoon:

The withering critique of propositional, systematic metaphysics has made possible the re-emergence of the priority of life to thought and of the practical to the theoretical. Transcendence reappears as the irreducibly mysterious horizon within which human thought occurs. The consequence, as Walsh provocatively puts it in this, his final book in a trilogy devoted to modern thought, is that the modern philosophical revolution has succeeded in bringing to light the source of the premodern tradition it opposed.

Based on Hibbs's summary, I'm not so sure that modern philosophy has "succeeded" except in the sense that traversing a dangerous, dead-ended path succeeds in proving that the main road was a better route to follow. The point is well taken, though, that we may be returning to a realization that life must be considered to be as it feels.

In philosophy and science, we've almost adopted a principle of the weird — astonished that the equations and logical series bring us to conclusions that appear impossible, if our sense of ourselves and our reality is legitimate. The lesson we take from such discoveries is too often that everything we know is wrong or illusory. To the contrary, the lesson should be that the disconnect from experienced reality is the illusion; we just have more work to do relating the findings to life as we live it.