Tuesday, October 26, 2004

High Table

I intended to do this earlier, but since I'm taking a break in some revisions I'm doing for a paper, I can do it now. I was invited to the Trinity College Humanities High Table. Well, strictly speaking, I was invited to the Philosophy High Table, but for some reason they didn't follow the normal practice of one per don per term, but instead had one for the philosophy and humanities dons together. I didn't quite follow it; I'm just a simple American. 'High Table' means nothing to me except that I need to wear a nice suit.

In any case, it was fun, and the meal was actually fairly good. Afterward I had several long discussions on various issues with various dons in the Senior Common Room - on the relation between ethics and philosophy of science in the nineteenth century, on the defensibility of Hume's analysis of causation, and on hermeneutics. The one one hermeneutics caught me off guard; the discussion started out harmlessly enough, about the plethora of excellent French philosophers who aren't really studied. Then it somehow went into French contemporary philosophy, and Derrida, Gadamer, Levinas, Ricoeur (emphatic pronouncements were made on the superiority of Ricoeur to Derrida in every way), the problems with intellectual celebrity, and by that route to Derrida again. I followed nary a word of it, but because of my blogging I was actually able to say one or two intelligent things about perceptions of Derrida.

It has brought home to me, though, as, indeed, the discussions of Derrida the past few weeks have also, that I really do need to read more on this side of philosophy. I've read bits and pieces of all the thinkers who were named, sometimes extensive bits and pieces, but bits and pieces of anyone is very remote from any genuine acquaintance with them. I need to start listing them on my Neverending Reading List (which is quite literally and fittingly headed with Eccl. 12:12 (KJV). Truer words were never spoken.

In any case, does anyone out there have particular recommendations about what to read along these lines?

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