Sunday, March 23, 2008


Which of the three types of stagnation do we exemplify? Loss of cultural capital (Stagnation A), certainly, marked by the inability of today's intellectuals to build constructively on the achievements of their predecessors. Simultaneously there exists a cult of the classics (Stagnation B): the historicism and footnote scholarship of our times, in which doing intellectual history becomes superior to creating it. And also we have the stagnation (C) of technical refinement: to take just a few instances, the acute refinements and formalisms of logical and linguistic philosophy have preceded apace in little specialized niches; in the same way among all factions of the intellectual world today we find the prevalence of esoterica, of subtleties, and of impenetrable in-group vocabularies.

Randall Collins, The Sociology of Philosophies, Harvard UP (Cambridge MA: 1998) 521.

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