Monday, March 07, 2011

Continuing from here. Eric Schliesser again [the boldface is what I quoted in my comment on the site]
On the Leiter report there is a discussion about Sluga's claim that "Attempts to revive [Cassirer's] fortunes are, I am afraid, doomed to failure." See this interesting review of a book by Peter Gordon. Sluga offers three reasons (they are not arguments) for his claim: i) Cassirer lacks "stature" vis a vis Heidegger; ii) Cassirer lacks "radicalism" (but Wittgenstein, Foucault, or Derrida have it!); c) Cassirer lacks the "incisive scientific acumen of a Russell, Quine, or Rawls." The third is manifestly false (Cassirer was extremely knowledgeable of history of physics and then-contemporary mathematics), and suggests Sluga doesn't know what he is talking about. (I have deep respect for Rawls' knowledge of mathematics and economics, by the way.) The first two reasons are very much in the eye of the beholder, and (if I have learned anything at all in my career as a philosophical historian) it is very hard to foretell how posterity judges... Sluga attempts to legislate what he is incapable of having authority over.
This is really sort of amazing. Schliesser seems to be saying that we shouldn't express opinions because only posterity will decide; as if we were not aspects of others' posterity. As I wrote on the site: "Sluga is playing his role as a historical actor, deciding for himself as we all do for ourselves, in the long process of public decision-making. You seem to be putting yourself in the role of observer, outside of the historical process."

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