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244 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY Walter Kaufmann. Discovering the Mind. Three volumes. New York: McGraw-Hill, 198o. Pp. xvi + 288, xvii + 3o8, xviii + 494. $14-95, $14.95, $17.95Briefly and simply, Discovering the Mind is Kaufmann's account of the modern thinkers who played a notable role either in furthering the quest for self-understanding or in obstructing or deflecting it. Because Kaufmann organizes his account in terms of individual thinkers, the most natural way to become acquainted with it is to repeat some of his assessments of these thinkers. I use the word "assessments" rather than "descriptions" or "analyses" for the reason that he is always engaged in passing judgment , and he leaves no doubt who or what has his approval or disapproval. The scale of this review is such that it would be futile to attempt a careful examination of the justice of Kaufmann's view of each thinker he takes up. I am not aware of any grave errors of scholarship. Granted the carefulness of Kaufmann's scholarship and his awareness of context, correctness in the ordinary sense is not at issue, but rather his view of the world, a matter that is hardly subject to argument in a simply scholarly or logical sense. Kaufmann's model of the autonomous, creative person, his ideal, is Goethe, of whom he approves even more wholeheartedly, I think, than of Nietzsche and Freud. Goethe was so great, he says, because so fully autonomous, and because he realized that, to develop, he had to live dangerously and risk love and the unforeseen (I, 29). His kind of autonomy influenced generations of writers and thinkers, among them, Nietzsche, Freud, and the Existentialists (I, 54)- It was in contrast to Goethe that Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger attempted to hide something from themselves. Goethe wrote so clearly, says Kaufmann, because he thought clearly (I, 42), while they wrote obscurely because they were (among other things) engaged in concealment. Their obscurity ought not to be attributed to their rigor. Consider Kant. "What makes Kant so difficult to read and often so hopelessly obscure is not at all exemplary rigor but rather his appalling lack of rigor," which "covers up difficulties that he should have faced" (I, lO6). Everywhere Kant makes the same mistakes: reliance on dichotomies and classifications that he takes to be exhaustive; substitution of play with concepts and terms for close examination of moral or esthetic experience; and the mistaking of his own unusual mind for the human mind in general (1, 148). Because he found no love in his own adult experience, "Kant's untenable model of the human mind has no place at all for love, unless it is assimilated to 'pathological interests' " (I, 156). It was not accidental that it was the abstracted and loveless though also powerful Kant who managed to persuade the Germans that philosophy required a special language, which Hegel and, later, Heidegger tried purposely to create (I, 183). Therefi)re, as Goethe is the influential, exemplary success, so Kant is the influential , exemplary failure, in many ways "an embodiment on a large scale of what is wrong with philosophy" (I, 195 ). Kaufmann speculates, though hesitantly, that if Kant "had not insisted on certainty, necessity, and completeness," philosophy might have developed in a more fruitful direction. As things have in fact developed, it is to be doubted if "mainstream philosophy will ever become strong enough to be of much help in the discovery of the mind." BOOK REVIEWS 245 According to Kaufmann, while Hegel had genius, he was more a failure than a success as a philosopher. Hegel's "stroke of genius" was his "systems approach," his insistence "that views and positions have to be seen as a whole, that theoretical and moral belong together as aspects of a single standpoint, that the histories of politics, art, religion, and philosophy are disciplines "through which we can try to discover the human mind or spirit or, in one word, man" (I, 262,265). Much of later intellectual history, as shown by Kierkegaard, Marx, and G.E. Moore, is a series of rew)lts against Hegel (I, 265). What is "bizarre and almost incredible about his books" is "due...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 244-247
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
Archive Status
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