U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Tim’s Light Reading (10/11/2012)

1 (of 5). Shocks v. Non-Shocks

At Notes From Ironbound, Werner Herzog’s Bear posits that there are two categories among employed academics, “shocks” and “non-shocks.” WHB then discusses the implications of their experience (i.e. “the experential divide”) in the profession. What do you think? Does this divide exist, as described by WHB? How would you modify the story? What does this mean for intellectual historians?

2. Reading “The Great Books” Of Philosophy

Check out James Garvey’s discussion and survey, at Talking Philosophy, of philosophers (and intellectual historians, if he only knew it) on which of “the great books” of philosophy they have actually been read cover-to-cover. For my part, I’ve read six. Although that seems low in relation to the list, my results match up well with a great many of those surveyed. How many have you read? And does the full reading of these works actually matter, for either philosophers or intellectual historians? Is there a philosophy canon? Should there be one?

3. Husserl in America

The “___X___ in America” meme has the potential to be endless and tiring, but I think this paper on “Husserl’s Phenomenology in America,” by Richard Lanigan, will be of interest to USIH readers. I’ve never seen a tracing of Husserl’s influence on twentieth-century philosophy and intellectual life in the United States, and Lanigan’s piece will perhaps start that line of literature. Which American philosopher or intellectual was most influenced by Husserl? Or are there any?

4. Hobsbawm Obits

In case you missed them, here are three that merit your reflection. And don’t forget Andrew Hartman’s reflections on Hobsbawm’s influence on him (especially Genovese’s review of Hobsbawm’s Age of Extremes. Since that book introduced me to Hobsbawm, here’s a passage on it from the Jacobin Obit:

Hobsbawm’s final addition to his [“Age of…”] series, The Age of Extremes (1994), on the “short twentieth century,” was written in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Perry Anderson noted, the bourgeoisie as such nearly altogether fell out of the picture in this volume. Instead, the big theme was that of Communism, by chastening bourgeois hegemony, saving Western states from the excesses of divisive capitalism. This, the defeat of Nazism, and the Soviet Union’s ultimate rationality in helping to keep the Cold War mostly cold, was for Hobsbawm the historic justification for Communism. As a positive alternative to capitalism, however, it had proven to be a dead end. Notoriously, however, he told an interviewer that had Stalinism proven to be the fount of a new, higher civilization, its body-count would have been justified.

5. Ratner-Rosenhagen at the Chicago Humanities Festival

Next week I plan to post my review of American Nietzsche. As a preview, or lead-in, you should know that Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen will be presenting on her book at the Chicadgo Humanities Festival on Saturday, November 10. Details here. Let me know (timothy.n.lacy-at-gmail.com) if you’re thinking about going as I’m working on trying to attend.

4 Thoughts on this Post

  1. I’ve read several of the books on the philosophy list: Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Descartes, Hobbes, Marx, portions of Aquinas and Wollstonecraft. I’ve read stuff by Kant, Hume, and Sartre, but not what’s on the list. The list is quirky, too. For instance, Thus Spake Zarathustra for Nietzsche instead of, say, Genealogy of Morality (which I’ve read), Twilight of the Idols (ditto) or Beyond Good and Evil (which I haven’t). Rousseau’s on the list even though he never wrote a work of philosophy strictu sensu. Same for Machiavelli and Hobbes. Locke is on the list for his Essay but not the Two Treatises (read) which probably are more consequential. I suppose that’s on there because it is philosophy proper (epistemology). Hence Utilitarianism is on there for Mill instead of On Liberty (which I’ve read, too).

    My question is, What would this list look like for historians? Herodotus, Thucydides, Gibbon: those three seem likely. What else?

  2. Tim, thanks for posting the link to the Shocks/Non-Shocks post over at Notes from the Ironbound. I highly recommend the writings of WHB, and this is one of my favorites. Currently, I am in my fifth year of non-tenure-track employment (at two different research-ish universities), and WHB has done a good job of capturing my own frustrations–as well as my observations about the difference between those of us who got jobs straight out of grad school and those of us who didn’t.

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