On Philosophical Style. by Brand Blanshard

By Brand Blanshard

Initially given in 1953 because the Adamson Lecture at Manchester collage, On Philosophical variety has turn into the vintage presentation of the thesis that profundity and readability aren't adverse philosophical virtues yet quite required partners. Blanshard starts with the query: Why is it that philosophers of significant notion occasionally confess a failure to understand yes in their colleagues? He ends with the statement "that the matter of fashion isn't an issue of phrases and sentences purely, yet of being the proper of mine." In among, there's a lot provided, in high quality kind and brief compass, when you either write and skim philosophy.

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He " spoke with the vulgar " without ceasing to think with the learned. Like G. E. Moore in our own day, he showed in the one wholly convincing way-by examplethat philosophy could maintain all the sharp-eyed wariness of the specialist while walking the road of ordinary speech. In spite of Berkeley and all his works, there will be some who continue to think thst this matter of style is unworthy of a philosopher's pains. They even have some good writers on their side. " People think that I can teach them style," said Matthew Arnold.

But philosophy, while an impersonal subject, is thought and written by persons. The brains of these persons, when they think, are not dynamos humming in a vacuum ; actual thought is always bathed in personal feeling, and invested with the lights and shades of an individual temperament. Now much of the pleasure of reading lies in catching the special quality of one's author, and so making his acquaintance. Think how the differing temperaments of Addison and Swift, of Mencken and Chesterton 64 PHILOSOPHICAL STYLE come to us through their words.

The more perfectly one's style fits the inner man and reveals its strength and defect, the clearer it becomes 68 i I I I PHILOSOPHICAL STYLE that the problem of style is not a problem of words and sentences merely, but of being the right kind of mind. " Does that make the problem of style insoluble ? Yes, I am afraid it does. But it shows also that the problem we have been discussing is no petty or merely technical one, but very far-reaching indeed.

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