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The “Dhimmi” Jew vs. the “Maccabean” Jew

The redoubtable, incisive and subtle Douglas Murray is the only current public intellectual I’ve come across to have read Gregor von Rezzori’s Memoirs of an Anti-Semite. While Murray points to Rezzori’s central psychological insight that anti-Semitism is a form of prestige (i.e. snobbery), I want to add a further complicating wrinkle to the discussion. That is,…

Walker Percy Wednesday 185

What has this to do with existentialism? We will pass over the epistemological consequences of symbolic knowing, the possession of the thing by the symbol rather than adaptation by signal-a knowing which is indeed existential in the broad sense of knowing something by being something-and go at once to the more typical existentialia. The recognition…

Walker Percy Wednesday 184

IF IT IS TRUE that both Anglo-American empiricism and European existentialism contain valid insights, then in respect of the failure to make a unifying effort toward giving an account of all realities, the former is surely the worse offender. For the existentialists do take note of empirical science, if only to demote it to some…

Walker Percy Wednesday 183

SYMBOL AND CONSCIOUSNESS The selective and intentional character of consciousness has been stressed by empiricists and phenomenologists alike. The conscious act is always intentional: One is never simply conscious, but conscious of this or that. Consciousness is, in fact, defined by the phenomenologist as noematic intentionality in general. But quite as essential to the act…

Walker Percy Wednesday 182

THERE ARE two interesting things about current approaches to consciousness as a subject of inquiry. One is that the two major approaches, the explanatory-psychological and the phenomenological, go their separate ways, contributing nothing to each other. They do not tend to converge upon or supplement each other as do, say, atomic theory and electromagnetic theory.…

Raymond Aron

Born on this day. Below is Daniel J. Mahoney’s entry in the Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought. Raymond Aron (1905–83) was a distinguished French philosopher, political thinker, social scientist, and journalist. He wrote influential columns for Le Figaro (1947–77) and L’Express (1978–83) and played a major role in shaping moderate and conservative opinion in France in…

Dan Zahavi on Husserl’s legacy

Richard Marshall chats with Dan in 3:AM Magazine. Very briefly put, I think phenomenologists reject various forms of reductionism, objectivism, and scientism. They insist on foregrounding the experiential perspective, and are more interested in descriptive adequacy than in explanatory mechanisms. Central to their efforts is an attempt to characterize and understand the pre-scientific lifeworld, which…

Walker Percy Wednesday 167

In view of the triumphant and generally admirable democratic-technological transformation of society, what is the ground of the novelist’s radical disquiet? Can the charge be brought against him, as Harvey Cox has accused the existentialists, of being an anachronism, one of the remnant of nineteenth-century “cultivated personalities” who, finding no sympathetic hearing from either technician…

Walker Percy Wednesday 163

The road is better than the inn, said Cervantes-and by this he meant that rotation is better than the alienation of everydayness. The best part of Huckleberry Finn begins when Huck escapes from his old man’s shack and ends when he leaves the river for good at Phelps farm. Mark Twain hit upon an admirable…

Walker Percy Wednesday 162

THE MAN ON THE TRAIN THERE is no such thing, strictly speaking, as a literature of alienation. In the re-presenting of alienation the category is reversed and becomes something entirely different. There is a great deal of difference between an alienated commuter riding a train and this same commuter reading a book about an alienated…