» » The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence

epub The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence download

by David Walsh

  • ISBN: 0521898951
  • Author: David Walsh
  • ePub ver: 1710 kb
  • Fb2 ver: 1710 kb
  • Rating: 4.7 of 5
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 518
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (September 8, 2008)
  • Formats: rtf docx lrf doc
  • Category: Other
  • Subcategory: Humanities
epub The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence download

The Modern Philosophical Revolution breaks new ground by. .

But as David Walsh argues, such a reading overlooks the extent to which Kant, Hegel, and Schelling were already engaged in the turn toward existence as the only viable mode of philosophizing. His book serves as an indispensable guide to a philosophical tradition that continues to have resonance in the post-modern world.

But as David Walsh argues, such a reading overlooks the extent to which Kant, Hegel, and Schelling were already engaged in the turn toward existence as the only viable mode of philosophising.

Much of the literature on European philosophy has emphasised the breaks that have occurred in the course of two centuries of thinking Methods used: Philosophy. But as David Walsh argues, such a reading overlooks the extent to which Kant, Hegel, and Schelling were already engaged in the turn toward existence as the only viable mode of philosophising.

The Modern Philosophical Revolution : The Luminosity of Existence. By (author) David Walsh.

As David points out, The Modern Philosophical Revolution is the third volume of a trilogy. Joseph McCarroll Ph D Dublin, Ireland June 2009

As David points out, The Modern Philosophical Revolution is the third volume of a trilogy. His 1990 After Ideology diagnoses the ideological earthquakes that have shaken Western culture as they worked their way through the history of the second millennium. Joseph McCarroll Ph D Dublin, Ireland June 2009. David Walsh's The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence (Cambridge University Press, New York, 2008) is a 500-page study with a chapter devoted to each of eight major continental European philosophers, Kant, Hegel, Schelling and Nietzsche, Heidegger, Levinas and Derrida, and finally, out of chronological sequence, Kierkegaard.

David Walsh, The Modern Philosophical Revolution:The Luminosity of Existence)2. The first two books were After Ideology: Recovering the Spiritual Foundations and Growth of the Liberal Soul. David Walsh’s brilliant new book, The Modern Philosophical Revolution, is the third part of a trilogy of deeply reflective books on the very nature of philosophy and its too often unrecognized and delicate relation to revelation. The first book was basically a reflection on Solzhenitsyn and what was thought to be the post Marxist world. It may not be as post as at first we thought it was.

The Modern Philosophical Revolution breaks new ground by. Walsh thus dispels much of the confusion that assails readers when they are only exposed to the bewildering range of positions taken by the philosophers he examines.

Much of the literature on European philosophy has emphasised the breaks that have occurred in the course of two centuries of thinking.

oceedings{Walsh2008TheMP, title {The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of.

oceedings{Walsh2008TheMP, title {The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence}, author {David Walsh}, year {2008} }. David Walsh.

In The Modem Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence, David Walsh, longtime professor of political science at the Catholic University of America, defies facile categories by offering a spirited defense of modernity that reaches conclusions typically embraced by modernity's.

In The Modem Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence, David Walsh, longtime professor of political science at the Catholic University of America, defies facile categories by offering a spirited defense of modernity that reaches conclusions typically embraced by modernity's critics. Through a careful examination of the texts of thinkers from Kant to Derrida, Walsh argues that modern thought evinces a "remarkably consistent" development, whose terminus is the "return of metaphysics in life

The Modern Philosophical Revolution breaks new ground by demonstrating the continuity of European philosophy from Kant to Derrida. Much of the literature on European philosophy has emphasized the breaks that have occurred in the course of two centuries of thinking. But as David Walsh argues, such a reading overlooks the extent to which Kant, Hegel, and Schelling were already engaged in the turn toward existence as the only viable mode of philosophizing. Where many similar studies summarize individual thinkers, this book provides a framework for understanding the relationships between them. Walsh thus dispels much of the confusion that assails readers when they are only exposed to the bewildering range of positions taken by the philosophers he examines. His book serves as an indispensable guide to a philosophical tradition that continues to have resonance in the post-modern world.
Comments (2)

Maman
My first contact with David Walsh was when I was working on my own MA a century ago. One of his big interests then was a love of Beckett who was also dealing with the mystery of human existence. David has a similar linguistic gift, without the obscurity. Not so much Beckett's `No's knife to yes's wound' (as he called one tough piece), what you got from David was Yes's smile to no's bad hair day.

In fact, even though this is a philosophical exploration, David himself is coming out of a very wide-embracing meeting with modernity. I well remember summer courses we were giving together in the States, where we sat in on each other's lectures. So I got to attend his audio-visually based lectures on modern painting and modern music. While from one perspective modernity may seem to be undergoing a dark night of culture, he showed that--like the people who wrote `my night has no darkness' on the walls of their catacombs--the very awareness of night implies a long night's journey into day. He was the one who helped me see Casper Friedrich's paintings pointing beyond the spiritual darkness of the Enlightenment, and how that motif continues through Augustus Tack, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Clifford Still.

In his review of The Modern Philosophical Revolution, James Schall, Professor of Politics at Georgetown University writes: `He is a man whose work I have admired, but it is only with this last work on the "luminosity of existence" that I have fully realized what he has been up to.' Because what David has been `up to' these last twenty years is definitely a mystery.

Which is why reading this book is like reading a detective story, minus the dead bodies the history of philosophy is normally littered with--where this or that philosopher is filletted for his (it's generally a `his') errors by his successors. I reacted to it with increasing amazement at what was happening to my preconceptions and cast-iron convictions regarding the modern European philosophers from Kant to Derrida. Each chapter left me wondering: Hey, I never thought of, say, Hegel or Heidegger that way, but Walsh's reading persuaded me to dig deeper both into Hegel's or Heidegger's questioning of existence and, more to the point, my own.

This is because the writing not only unfolds an impelling narrative but it's in a conversional (it's also a conversation, but one inviting to conversion, to turning around, to intellectual and spiritual revolution) key--not in any manipulative fashion, but in a way that's extraordinarily close to Kierkegaard's challenge to his readers.

As David points out, The Modern Philosophical Revolution is the third volume of a trilogy. His 1990 After Ideology diagnoses the ideological earthquakes that have shaken Western culture as they worked their way through the history of the second millennium. The dark shadows in this diagnosis are illumined from within the crises by a range of spiritual realists: Dostoevsky, Camus, Solzhenitsyn and Eric Voegelin. Because they suffered from and struggled against the wounds of ideological disorder, for Walsh these thinkers and writers are signposts leading beyond the cultural dark night. As David said yesterday, a great crisis can give rise to a great human being, someone who's had to rise to the level of the disaster and try to reach out beyond it, and all these writers experienced that disaster in their bones and in their lives.

The second in the trilogy is his 1997 The Growth of the Liberal Soul. Building on the first volume, it assesses the origins, strengths and inherent weakness of contemporary political culture. As in the first volume, Walsh points towards a renewal of contemporary culture by reaching back to its foundational experiences, which include the political implications of classic Greek philosophy and Judaeo-Christianity--what a Jacques Maritain spoke of as integral humanism. Again, yesterday David mentioned how the soul grows in relationship with events, and this `growth of the liberal soul' charts how liberal democracy despite all its failures has, up to now, overcome some of the major murderous ideologies of the twentieth century.

The third volume, which we're launching today, is in many ways the most demanding--not to read, since he writes in unflashy, lucid, yet meditative English--in fact, he's reinvented an English that can unselfconsciously convey meditative depth. But the difficulty lies in the interpretative marathon he's asking us to run.

What he's done is to discern the single rainbow of light uniting what a Dublin person might call a right shower of philosophers--Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Levinas and Derrida. The overarching bow in the clouds, which he names "The Modern Philosophical Revolution," is revealed in the second part of the book's title: "The Luminosity of Existence."

Each chapter explores how these philosophers related to the question of existence--considered not primarily as a metaphysical datum but as an experience of gradually heightening consciousness of that transcendence within which all of that philosopher's work can alone be adequately situated.

As I said, a detective story with no dead bodies. Instead of the usual oppositions we philosophy teachers make between, say, Kant and Hegel, Hegel and Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Levinas, Nietzsche agin `em all, David has uncovered their common quest. And he shows that that shared search isn't only an intellectual one, but also ethical, not only ethical, but also spiritual, not only spiritual, but most importantly, translated into the flesh and bones of their lives.

Nietzsche, fed up with the dead hand of German historical research once wrote an essay called "The Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life." And David's book could be retitled `The Advantage and Disadvantage of Philosophy for Life.' This is because his memorable rereading encapsulates Nietzsche's recovery of concrete lived existence as central to philosophy, or for that matter, to theology, as one of his quotations from Nietzsche indicates:

"If those glad tidings of your Bible were written in your faces you would not need to insist so obstinately on the authority of that book: your works, your actions ought continually to render the Bible superfluous, through you a new Bible ought to be continually in course of creation." (Human, All Too Human)

One of the reasons I think David's recovery of these philosophers is so satisfying is his critical respect for each of them. It reminded me of Thomas Aquinas' benign but not uncritical interpretation that draws the most out of those he's dialoguing with--on the principle that it's far more likely you'll get to the heart of what a thinker is trying to say if you actively seek out what he's best at than if you just check him out for errors.

To get just a flavour of how he's reading these philosophers, on Kierkegaard he writes that "the task for philosophy is therefore the awakening to what it already knows but can never, for that reason, reduce to knowledge. Kierkegaard here joins up the Hegelian recognition of truth as movement with the Derridean insistence on the irreducibility of differance. But he goes beyond them in existential thoroughness. The movement in which philosophy is engaged is not a general condition but the concrete existence of the philosopher himself."

So, though I have the honour of being one of the more humble midwives of David's earliest philosophical studies, my encounter with The Modern Philosophical Revolution has been one of the most formative experiences in my life as a philosopher. I've no hesitation in placing it along with Bernard Lonergan's Insight and Eric Voegelin's Order and History as one of the greatest works in contemporary English-language philosophy.

Who's the book aimed at? I'd say: at all professional and postgraduate philosophers interested in modern European philosophy, students of philosophy of religion, those interested in the interface between revelation and philosophy, and political philosophers too, if they link the third with the other two volumes of Walsh's trilogy.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the book is aimed at anyone prepared to work as hard on themselves as on the philosophers David explores. For his final heading of the book's last chapter he's coined an aphorism worthy of Kierkegaard which aptly summarizes its program by bringing out the need for a self-examination not `lost in translation' into life: "To be the truth is the only true explanation of what truth is."

James Schall concludes his review of The Modern Philosophical Revolution by saying: `this is an astonishingly amazing book, truly revolutionary in modern philosophy about what it is really about, namely, in Walsh's words, "the luminosity of existence," a wonderfully philosophic expression.'

Eric Voegelin, a famous philosopher of history, on his only visit to Ireland in 1972, while on a trip to Glendalough, ended up on the way out and the way back being driven by David twice along the Vico Road. That jaunt was an enjoyable ricorso, recalling an earlier great philosopher of history, Giambattista Vico, who spoke of historical ricorsi, the profound reliving at a higher level of the central dynamism of the human spirit in its reaching out to the divine.

Let's push the symbolism in a Joycean way, around the omphalos of Sandycove's Martello Tower (on his visit to Joyce's Tower as it's now called, Voegelin, again in David's company, looking out on Dublin Bay, and mindful of the first lines of Ulysses, remarked, `great place for a shave!'). Since the tower isn't too far off David's own part of town, Dun Laoghaire, we can say that all his work has been a rediscovery and recovery of that core dynamic of human existence, an upwardly spiraling circling of and towards the centre.

Which allows me to connect him with the Australian poet, Les Murray, in his `First Essay of Interest,' which we can read here as a gloss on The Luminosity of Existence. Murray writes of

Interest...that blinks our interests out
and alone permits their survival, by relieving
us of their gravity, for a timeless moment;
that centres where it points, and points to centring,
that centres us where it points, and reflects our centre.

It is a form of love. The everyday shines through it
and patches of time. But it does not mingle with these;

David helps to waken us for each trace in us of our centre, of the Beloved.
Flamekiller
A Review of The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence

Joseph McCarroll Ph D
Dublin, Ireland
June 2009

David Walsh's The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence (Cambridge University Press, New York, 2008) is a 500-page study with a chapter devoted to each of eight major continental European philosophers, Kant, Hegel, Schelling and Nietzsche, Heidegger, Levinas and Derrida, and finally, out of chronological sequence, Kierkegaard.

It is the concluding volume in what he is now calling a trilogy -- the first was After Ideology: Recovering the Spiritual Foundations of Freedom (Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C, 1990) and the second, The Growth of the Liberal Soul, (University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1997).

He has been on the philosophical quest underpinning the three volumes, what he has called his `larger project on the transparence of the modern world', for, I guess, the better part of thirty years now, ploughing his way through the works of one big philosopher after another. Whenever anyone asked him, `What are you working on now?' he would say, `I am reading Hegel again', or `I am re-reading Heidegger', or `I am working on Kierkegaard'.

But neither After Ideology nor The Growth of the Liberal Soul prepared me for what he has undertaken in The Modern Philosophical Revolution. I knew he was doing a series of in-depth studies of some of the hardest thinkers in modern philosophy, but I had really no idea how he was linking them. And when it was finally published, it took me quite a while before I had any sense that I was `getting' what he was suggesting.

When I did, it took my breath away. He conceives `the era of philosophy from Kant to the present ... as a whole', as a development, indeed, as a revolution. He `argues that there is a remarkably consistent unfolding within this development'; `the present volume seeks to provide', he claims, `an overarching interpretative hypothesis' to clarify the nature and unfolding of this development. (p. xiii)

Of course the claim that a development is unfolding in modern philosophy is a commonplace. What is startling is his proposal as to the nature of this development. The conventional view is that modern philosophy has demonstrated once and for all that mind is not fit for purpose for metaphysics, for meaningful knowledge of the nature, meaning and purpose of human existence, morality, and the order of being or its transcendent ground.

David Walsh's overarching interpretative hypothesis challenges this academic consensus. He is saying that something new is going ahead and being clarified in and among these great philosophers, a hitherto largely unadverted-to running theme that, if confirmed, would have to be recognised as a key dimension of modern philosophy.

If he is right in this, then The Modern Philosophical Revolution is a turning-point book, a paradigm shift in the way modern philosophy has to be understood and practised, one of those think-again studies that invites, challenges, dares us to see things in a new, importantly different way.

As I worked through it I saw that it is academic scholarship of the highest quality, but also something more and other in kind, a recovery, perhaps even an expansion, of the practice of philosophy in its fullest breadth and depth, a meditation on what we are able to come to know and articulate about the meaning, purpose and ultimate ground of human existence, but a philosophical and reflective meditation, exploring also how we come to know and articulate these over-the-horizon dimensions of existence, and how they may be appropriately spoken of.

Heretofore, modern philosophy has been seen as struggling to come to terms with the new kind of understanding and action found in the emergence, spread and ascent to dominance of modern science and technology which has so dramatically transformed not only our relationships with the natural world but also the way we live and see ourselves.

The dazzling success and intoxicating power associated with the new instrumental rationality underlying science and technology prompted investigations to see if philosophy might not be renewed and transformed along similar lines. The analysis of scientific, technical and instrumental reason, of the way we know phenomena, appearances and the relationships between things in the world, led philosophers to pinpoint the inaptness of this mode of reason for understanding the substance of things, especially of ourselves. Some even concluded from this to the inability of human reason to know these deeper dimensions of reality at all, or even to their non-existence.

As its opening sentence shows, the point of departure for the reflective meditation presented in The Modern Philosophical Revolution is the recognition that `The dominant force of the modern world is instrumental reason.' (p. 1) But when the unending expansion of instrumentalism starts intruding upon the very substance of our humanity we begin to experience it as a threat, and we find that instrumental reason is unable to provide limits to its own expansion. We need something more and different, a deeper dimension of reason, a substantive reason that illuminates from within, but never more than partially, the whole of reality within which the person using instrumental reason is living.

Instrumental reason images its experience of the world in terms of a model of a looking subject and its seen external object, a subject-object intentionality. But this valid though limited discipline of reason simply is not apt to understand existence as a whole. David Walsh recurrently draws attention to the intriguing way that even as we are using instrumental reason, we are often aware of its boundaries.

Weber, for instance, spoke of the iron cage of bureaucracy, but his selection of that very symbol shows that we experience something more than instrumental reason in our evaluation of our situation, we are aware of a `more' that longs to be outside the cage.

The bounded rationality of the "iron cage" is continuously surpassed by the boundless rationality of the human spirit.

That is why a technological society is never simply what it appears to be. Its pervasive instrumentalization is haunted by the awareness of its non-instrumental source. (p. 2)

When we bring instrumental reason to bear on reality as a whole, we who do this are already woven intimately, irretrievably into it as a part, albeit a peculiar part, a part that is in some sense in itself a whole.

This disproportion, this discontinuity, prompts boundary questions, reminding us that the reason within us, the spirit within us, is more than merely instrumental, that, in addition to things or relationships we can know in a subject-object way, there is existence which we cannot know that way, but only partially and through our luminous participation within it.

It is along these boundaries between instrumental and substantive reason, I believe, that David Walsh's `larger project' unfolds. It owes much, I feel, to the opening pages of philosopher Eric Voegelin's major work, Order and History: `The whole of reality, with its quarternarian structure, God and man, world and society, is not a datum of experience that is given like an object in the external world, but is knowable only from the perspective of participation in it'. This perspective, Voegelin insists, `must be understood in the fullness of its disturbing quality'.

In a chemistry experiment we control the variables and measure clearly marked off aspects of particular things under set conditions. But when it comes to trying to understand what Voegelin calls `the whole of reality', we are unable to step onto any vantage point outside what we are trying to understand from which we could examine it as a thing apart from us, as an object external to us in relation to which we are a subject, because we are part of the very reality we are trying to understand.

Ineluctably we are existentially embedded, and morally engaged in reality, as a part taking part in the whole, unable to see the whole, only ever able to see an infinitesimal part of it, and only ever able to see it from within.

In the realm of substantive reality, understanding is given to us when the reality of which we are a part moves us and that being moved finds articulation in symbols that render luminous what has happened redolently; and reflectively, with due care, metaphor may give way to a metaphysics fit for purpose.

Some modern thinkers, however, tried to construct ideological systems based on analysis of human subjectivity alone, deducing from such an analysis what other areas of reality would have to be like in order to be knowable by this subjectivity. Voegelin, however, saw this as an artificial self-closure, a contraction of the natural and spontaneous range of human consciousness which is already engaged in the whole of reality long before the emergence of philosophical reflection, or instrumental reasoning, for that matter. So a truly empirical philosophy has to start with our participation in the whole of reality most of which lies outside our consciousness.

As he put it, `the consciousness of philosophising is no "pure" consciousness but rather the consciousness of a concrete human being, all philosophising is an event in the philosopher's life history - further an event in the history of the community with its symbolic language, further in the history of mankind, and further in the history of the cosmos.' The actual context of consciousness is nothing less than the whole of reality, however we symbolise its wider dimensions.

This is the issue to which David Walsh addresses himself in The Modern Philosophical Revolution, and what is surprising about the book is his discovery that a significant strand in the thought of the eight philosophers he studies is concerned with this very matter.

Correlative with the great philosophical critique of instrumentalization is the growth of the alternative by which it is judged. The still incompletely acknowledged revolution in modern philosophy consists in the progressive articulation of substantive reason. Modern science may have succeeded by virtue of its restriction to the world of phenomena, but modern philosophy has correspondingly found itself within a substantive reality it knows from within. (p. 3)

He identifies areas in the philosophy of the thinkers he studies in which they go beyond analysing the instrumental reason that limits itself to the realm of appearances and relations between things, and explore what is involved in substantive reason as it is opened by the underlying reality in which it participates. To symbolise this different dimension and operative mode of reason David Walsh, again following Voegelin, selects the symbol `luminosity'.

In place of the subject standing over against a world of objects, we expand the meditative knowledge of our participation within existence. ... This is the shift of perspective that has been under way in modern philosophy against the subject-object model whose dominance has been so great that the countermovement has scarcely been noticed. (p. 4)

If this shift is a prominent, though until now un-highlighted, feature of the thinkers he has studied, then David Walsh's new book is surely something of a Copernican Revolution. If the achievement of modern philosophy, long thought to be principally a clarification of human subjectivity's controlling and limiting its own ability to know of objective reality, and so implying objective reality's unknowability by us, were now found to include also an acknowledgement and exploration of that same human subjectivity's unavoidable being caught-up in, ever moved by, and grounded in the whole of reality, would that not be a Copernican volte-face?

Copernicus proposed that the earth revolved around the sun, not the sun around the earth. David Walsh suggests that our participation in reality precedes and grounds our development and use of instrumental reason, not the other way round. As human beings we are not closed in on ourselves, or enclosed within the instrumental reason of subject/object relationships, but rather engaged in the whole of reality long before reflection or instrumental reasoning begin, and able, indeed impelled by our deepest humanity, to engage in this wider reality and articulate our participation in luminous symbols that express our attunement to this embracing ordering reality.

He is saying that a crucial dimension and achievement of modern philosophy, `has been scarcely noticed' until now; that there has been a series of groundbreaking in our understanding of the way in which we explore, articulate and attune ourselves to substantive reality from a perspective of participation within the whole of reality.

For me the click moment came when I realised the point of the paradoxically worded aphoristic cautioning that David Walsh employs throughout the study against intruding an instrumental attitude into the exploration of substantive reality. On the way of luminous participation, an attitude of submissive attunement to the whole of reality has to hold sway, not a will to overmaster and subdue it.

Conscious of the cultural dominance and excesses of instrumentalism, he warns, over and over, that luminous participation is uncapturable. The person who makes the attempt to capture it moves thereby from the open docility of the participatory context of origin into an attitude of domination that unbalance the instrumental attitude.

David Walsh's point is that the symbols lose their meaning when removed from the context of participation that engendered them. This is because participation itself is characterised by an attitude of submissive attunement to the embracing reality, and it is this experience of free yielding to being moved by reality which brings the symbol to luminosity. This is what the experience and symbol mean. Torn from that originating context they lose their luminosity.

As Walsh observed in an essay written over twenty five years ago,

The error is not unrelated to the mistake that C.S. Lewis acknowledges committing when he sought to recover the experience of "Joy" by focusing on the thoughts and feelings generated by the experience within him. He recalls how
This discovery flashed a new light back on my whole life. I saw that all my waitings and watchings for Joy, all my vain hopes to find some mental content on which I could, so to speak, lay my finger and say, "This is it", had been a futile attempt to contemplate the enjoyed.
All that he could find in such introspection was the sediment or trace of Joy. The reality which had been enjoyed disappeared once his attention became wholly directed toward the inner event itself. ... There is no surer way of missing the reality of human self-transcendence than to focus exclusively on the processes, the techniques or the ideas in which it is expressed.

Looking back over the three volumes of the Luminosity Trilogy, After Ideology, The Growth of the Liberal Soul and now The Modern Philosophical Revolution, what most impresses is the authenticity that comes from speaking only out of the journey one has personally made. Walsh works his way through the thinkers he has chosen to study, inviting us to accompany him if we wish, letting us see for ourselves what they say and how their thought unfolded, letting these great thinkers, if we allow them, enlarge our souls as they struggle with the great questions. And at each step, he offers his overarching hypothesis for our consideration: Are these philosophers exploring how we may understand the whole of reality in which we are participants and how we may articulate that participation?

This book will be essential reading for those who thought modern philosophy had shown once and for all that metaphysical and religious discourse were without meaning or reference in reality, inviting them to reconsider the evidence of the texts, and offering those for whom religion is a living context of meaning the possibility that modern philosophy may help them make their language and meaning intelligible in today's world.

Related to The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence: