Literary and Philosophical Essays
Fun Philosophical Essays - St. Olaf College
Wittgenstein, whose conversations with Rush Rhees lead off these Philosophical Essays on Freud, once wrote to a friend: ‘I, too, was greatly impressed when I first read Freud. He’s extraordinary – of course he is full of fishy thinking and his charm and the charm of the subject is so great that you may easily be fooled ... so hang on to your brains.’ This is not a piece of advice that all the contributors to this volume have been willing to follow. And though this is compensated for by the distinction of many of the papers it is unfortunately true of those contributions which deal with that question which has the most general claim to interest: how has it come about that little more than a decade short of its centenary the most fundamental and distinctive claims of psychoanalysis should still be the subject of radical scepticism.
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This is a place for philosophical essays by faculty, current students, and alumni philosophy majors, designed to attract readers keen on thinking philosophically in the format of the “occasional essay.” The essays should be (more or less) stand-alone essays that do not require expert background knowledge, but do exhibit the ways in which philosophical reflection can be woven into everyday life, special events, or topics of general interest. There is no restriction on content, but we are looking to post essays that combine entertainment with seriousness. This is not a site for ponderous, meticulous research, but more of a catchall page for essays combining whimsy with philosophical insights. This is a guideline, however, rather than a strict rule. Exhibited essays are chosen at the discretion of the editors of this page.
While the German thinkers ascribe to the essay the heroic role of defending critical and creative thought against reason, as embodied in systems, the French have resisted identifying their writings with any established genres, questioning even the very notion of genre. Indeed, they have at times distanced themselves from the essay especially, mistrusting a discourse that encourages self-representation, whether in the traditional role of the Cartesian cogito, or in the more congenial guise of Montaigne’s essays. Despite such objections, the French theorists, as well as the Frankfurt School thinkers, still belong in the tradition of the philosophical essay. Indeed, it is revealing that both Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes, who criticized bourgeois individualism in their early works, made the self a central concern in their late works. Both paid a final homage to the essay as well. Foucault, for example, describes the essay, in L’Usage des plaisirs (1984;