The Barometer of Modern Reason

The Barometer of Modern Reason : On the Philosophies of Current Events

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How should philosophy deal with world events? Vincent Descombes examines the ways in which major modern philosophers have developed the barometers that they use to tell us about modern reason and the spirit of the times. He examines the so-called "return to Kant" characteristic of projects like Foucault's "ontology of the present," Habermas's critical theory of history, and Heidegger's "epochal" understanding of metaphysics. These projects fail, he argues, because they try to account for the culture of a period by linking it to a Western metaphysics or modern rationality, when in fact philosophy does not contain the "principle" of a culture; simply put, the relation works the other way around. To this kind of "discourse on modernity" Descombes opposes an anthropology of modernity, derived in part from Wittgenstein's philosophy of rules, which suggests a solution to the quarrel between the modern and the postmodern. For Descombes, a "philosophical discourse of modernity" should be rejected, for the true subject of modernity belongs not to philosophers, but to writers, moralists, and sociologists of more

Product details

  • Paperback
  • 139.7 x 208.28 x 12.7mm | 272.15g
  • Oxford University Press, USA
  • United States
  • English
  • 0195079906
  • 9780195079906

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