LoveKnowledge: The Life of Philosophy from Socrates to Derrida

Roy Brand
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Since its inception, philosophy has struggled to perfect individual understanding through discussion and dialogue based in personal, poetic, or dramatic investigation. The positions of such philosophers as Socrates, Spinoza, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Derrida differ in almost every respect, yet these thinkers all share a common method of practicing philosophy -- not as a detached, intellectual discipline, but as a worldly art.

    What is the love that turns into knowledge and how is the knowledge we seek already a form of love? Reading key texts from Socrates to Derrida, this book addresses the fundamental tension between love and knowledge that informs the history of Western philosophy. LoveKnowledge returns to the long tradition of philosophy as an exercise not only of the mind but also of the soul, asking whether philosophy can shape and inform our lives and communities.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53084-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 UNDOING KNOWLEDGE: Socrates of the Apology
    (pp. 1-19)

    The two things to know about Socrates are that he had nothing definitive to say and that he was ugly. Somehow these two features have been transformed in collective lore into the image of wisdom and beauty. Is it so hard to accept that the founding father of philosophy—itself the mother of all the sciences—could be a shabby, unattractive plebeian? Even more interestingly, the transformation of Socrates from mortal rambler to intellectual legend had already begun during his own time. Because he could transform ignorance into a form of wisdom, he could make the unattractive beautiful.

    Socrates had...

  5. 2 THE LOGIC OF DESIRE: Socrates of the Symposium
    (pp. 20-33)

    Philosophy is not just about knowledge but also about love. There is no love without knowledge and no knowledge without love. Love without knowledge becomes more like an animal drive, and knowledge without love is reduced to a simple search for information. The two are necessary, but they do not form a harmonious couple. Their struggle, which we here call loveknowledge, defines us as humans and their particular configuration in each of us makes us who we are.

    In the last chapter we saw how Socrates became the embodiment of knowledge that knows its limitations. In questioning his accusers, he...

    (pp. 34-53)

    Baruch de Spinoza (1632–1677), a philosopher who preferred to grind and polish lenses rather than to lecture in the university, confronted the distorted beliefs of his time and sought to correct them by means of a fine-tuned geometric form of writing. His master work, theEthics, published posthumously, proves beyond all doubt that we can achieve a blessed state of happiness by a peculiar mix he calls “intellectual love,” and this state can be achieved without institutional religion or any other ritual or magic.

    Spinoza is the great champion of concrete life in modern times. It is interesting that...

  7. 4 COMMUNICATING SOLITUDE: Rousseau’s Reveries of the Solitary Walker
    (pp. 54-72)

    If the life and death of Socrates give us a portrait of what it means to be an individual, and Spinoza adds the world in which we live and act, then Rousseau combines the two to provide a portrait of the individual in modern times. Rousseau confronts one of the most contemporary of all our problems: the struggle to remain an individual in an increasingly homogenized world and to express oneself when all the outlets for doing so have become trite and trivial. Though he was perhaps the first literary celebrity, his life was plagued by loneliness. Already during his...

  8. 5 HOW WE BECOME WHAT WE ARE: Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals
    (pp. 73-93)

    TheGenealogy of Moralsis a feast for a philosopher. In Nietzsche’s telling, it is the philosopher who guides the production of a meaningful world. Nietzsche’s view of philosophy is grander than Plato’s. The latter had philosophy rule the political order, whereas according to Nietzsche philosophy shapes the material of life into a beautiful and interesting existence. Moreover, the book includes wonderfully comic insights and commentary about why the philosopher should never marry or have kids, for example, or why thinkers have a taste for desert landscapes or the reasons why San Marco’s Square in Venice is the best place...

  9. 6 BECOMING OTHER: Foucault’s History of Sexuality
    (pp. 94-110)

    Michel Foucault, one of the most influential philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century, produced a body of work that offers a dark testimony to the effects of the growing regulation of experience. Much of his work focuses on the power structures—social, cultural, and institutional—that shape and manipulate individual experience. His primary concern is whether and to what extent we can experience differently. His work and his life demonstrate the need to fight for the freedom to think and feel outside the governing social norms.

    In his last project, an unfinished trilogy,The History of Sexuality,...

    (pp. 111-130)

    Jacques Derrida was my teacher in New York before his death from cancer in 2004. As a lecturer, he was formal, careful, and generally lacking in any overwhelming personal charm. Most of the time, he would read his notes for a book he was completing, as if the paper shielded him from his students or from his own mistrust of himself as a teacher. But witnessing the subtlety of his thought was a marvel. His lectures attempted to create new ways of using language. He tried to strike a balance between comprehension and disorientation by sharing his texts in a...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 131-134)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 135-146)