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A discussion of the contemplative point of view using poetry, specifically, the work of Whitman and Goethe. How the “weaver” differs from the scholar, according to Mephisto in Faust, Part I. Addressing a recent attack on continental philosophy by Richard Dawkins, and how and why truly holistic thinking is difficult to pursue in academia. Concludes with an anecdote related to my discussion of Heidegger in a German bar in the 1990s.

Cited/Quoted: Walt Whitman, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Richard Dawkins

Referred to in passing: Agrippa, Paracelsus, Georg von Welling, Martin Heidegger

Works: When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer/Leaves of Grass (Whitman); Faust, Part I (Goethe), Urfaust (Goethe)

Concepts discussed: contemplative thought vs calculative thought; holistic thought in Faust and its connection to alchemical ideas (e.g. Wirkenskraft und Samen); the introduction of the “weaving” metaphor in Faust; the unfairness and inaccuracy of reducing continental philosophy and its use of historicity to nothing more than postmodernism and/or radical relativism; pluses and minuses of fragmented approach to inquiry vis-a-vis holistic thought; Renaissance holism


Breaking Bad – When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

Goethe’s Faust I, Bayard Taylor (trans.) @ Project Gutenberg

Richard Dawkins’ recent tweet on continental philosophy

Good overview of continental vs analytic debate, with reference to recent Dawkins’ tweet

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