Jesse Norman Reviews Oakeshott’s Notebooks


The rights for this photo is attributed to Getty Images. Odd that since it was Simon Oakeshott, Oakeshott’s son, that gave me the photo “to do as I pleased.” I scanned it and returned it and then did a great deal of painstaking touch up work on it for the commemoration of Oakeshott’s centenary — and here is Getty claiming credit. Jesse’s Apollonian/Dionysian characterization (and more besides) is very dependent on Bob Grant’s essay for Paul and my Companion.

Anyway here is Jesse’s (hopefully the “new Disraeli” as I call him) New Statesman article.

We have seen Oakeshott as a thinker from another age, one who delights in metaphor and disdains the modern fashion for isms, and the minutiose and argumentative logic-chopping by which so much of today’s academic philosophy talks past itself. He has only one subject, and it is the subject: human experience, in all its pain and joy and glory.

. . . the Notebooks place Oakeshott in a European aphoristic tradition ranging from Martial to La Rochefoucauld and Nietzsche. They confirm his deep engagement with Plato and Aristotle, with personal heroes such as Spinoza, Cervantes, Montaigne and Pascal and with the novels of Tolstoy, Turgenev, James and Conrad, among many others. Again and again he returns to the themes of death and life, the enchantment and salvations of religion and poetry, and above all love.