Reading Philosophy....

Whenever I deal with any subject that is "foreign" to my experience (such as, philosophy OR language, music, fine arts, cooking, polo, etc.),  I have two goals:  1) internalization and 2) demystification.  By internalization, I mean that I need to expose myself enough to the subject that it becomes tangible and recognizable to me when I encounter it.  For example, if one of our future authors complains that Kant has divorced the human "subject" from the "objects" of his or her experience, I will sense that these words must have something to do with Kant's radical epistemology.  By demystification, I mean that I do whatever I can to overcome my fear of a subject that at first seems forbidding.  If I have exposed myself enough to a philosopher who uses, say, an untranslatable concept like Dasein, I will have the confidence to look the concept in the face and inquire about its meaning.  I make it talk to me. Ultimately, the reason I am intent upon exposure is that I want nothing more than to figure out whether I can use a given subject to my benefit. Does the concept lead me to a better understanding of the world or, conversely, is there no reason for keeping it around? If there is no reason, there is no point in fetishizing it. Consider Arendt's comments about Heidegger the fox.

Therefore, as you read the primary sources in this course, don't be hard on yourself if you don't understand them immediately or completely. Some of these works would take a life time to learn.  By the same token, give yourself lots of time to read them, ideally over and over again. Every word counts!  You will note that the reading assignments themselves are ridiculously short.  You can always read more. My goal is simply  to provide enough fodder for a rigorous and fruitful discussion.

Sapere Aude!