Wednesday, January 21, 2004

One man, and his honor... 

On p. 544 of Russell's History of Western Philosophy (I'm on p. 623 at the moment halfway through Berkeley), I learned that Descartes (1596-1650), the founder of modern philosophy, in addition to always being well dressed, wore a sword. This reminded me of something that someone (was it Sartre?) said about epistemology. I'll paraphrase, since I can't give the exact quote. He said that epistemology does indeed hone [the blade of] the mind, but that it unfortunately never gets around to actually cutting anything. And then I wondered if (and if so, when) the modern political situation might impel philosophers to once again feel the need to, on occasion, exchange flashes of inspiration for flashes of the blade. Naturally, we can (dare we?) chastise them for their fashion sense (or lack thereof) after the body count.

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