Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Commit It then to the Flames

For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

So wrote David Hume, the brilliant and eloquent Scottish philospher. I always liked reading Hume. His eighteenth-century writing style can occasionally be pretty dense, but I can't expect to be completely intellectually lazy all the time, so I forced myself to read and reread his works until they made sense. I think. Anyway, the guy had some really, really impressive insights. Among him, John Stuart Mill, and Thomas Hobbes, it's hard for me to pick my favorite. Suffice it to say that some of Hume's works grace my personal collection, and I doubt that I will ever commit them to the flames.

Anyway, speaking of intellectual laziness, I'll let you look at Leon Wieseltier, who recently reviewed Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell for the New York Times. Via Brad DeLong, we are directed to Brian Leiter's complete dismantling of Wieseltier. It's worth the time it takes to read, and you'll understand where Hume comes in. I wouldn't begin to claim mastery of Hume's work, but Wieseltier's grasp of the essentials is shameful--that doesn't stop him from writing a crappy review, though! Also, cheers to DeLong for his title for the post: "History of Philosophy Cage Match."

That's pretty damn funny.

Finally, apologies to all for the many times I wrote that "the Vice President of the United States of American blasting a 78-year-old man in the face with a shotgun." I included an unforgivable typo. What I meant to say, of course, is that "the Vice President of the United States of America blasting a 78-year-old man in the face with a shotgun." I offer my sincerest apologies to you all.

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