Bruce Wilshire

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Bruce W. Wilshire (February 8, 1932 – January 1, 2013) was an American philosopher who taught in the philosophy department at Rutgers University, from which he retired as Professor Emeritus in 2009. Beginning as a specialist in William James, he became known for his work on philosophy and theater, his criticisms of analytic philosophy, and his interest in Native American philosophy.

Quotes[edit]

Fashionable Nihilism (2002)[edit]

  • Once, Socrates was a sort of patron saint of philosophers. It was understood that philosophy was a way of questioning, musing, ruminating, living—a way of being a person.
    • p. xi
  • Philosophy is not exactly science, [analytic philosophers] think, but it must resemble science in its style and mood of detachment: its appearance of being without any particular person’s or any particular group’s biases.
    • p. xii
  • Philosophers conclude that they need no longer participate personally in what Socrates called “the tendance of the soul.”
    • p. xii
  • Could this reaction against the personal by [analytic] philosophers … be, at bottom, one of fear? … Are … bright people … blindly afraid of their own precarious identity and unspeakable vulnerability as particular bodily beings?
    • p. xiii
  • In this distancing, are aspects of our own reality as persons deeply concealed, and the concealment concealed? Are many professors of philosophy today afraid to reflect? I think so.
    • p. xiii
  • Philosophers who function within analytic traditions tend to reflect on the self in a way that unwittingly impoverishes and objectifies self.
    • p. xiii
  • Kierkegaard, William James, Thoreau, and others I admire are very close to Nietzsche in his condemnation of philosophers who will not or cannot reflect on their own persons: that is, wholly professionalized philosophers.
    • p. xiv
  • Not to know how one has become what one is, means one has a grossly inadequate idea of what one is.
    • p. 4
  • [According to John Locke] the enlightened philosopher is to accept a subordinate position: he must be, says Locke, an “underlaborer” to the empirical scientist.
    • p. 4
  • The Princeton graduate students pride themselves in never reading “anyone who takes philosophy personally or confuses philosophy with things that matter in their little lives.” But being ignorant, apparently, of how they (and their professors, presumably) have come to hold such a view, they have no idea of how it might be criticized, or who they are who hold it.
    • p. 5
  • [William] James observed that if one who desires self-knowledge takes exclusively a (supposedly) detached and dispassionate view of oneself, one has already prejudiced what one can be, and, of course, what one can know of oneself.
    • p. 5
  • … our countless addictions, distractions, dissipations of passion that might have served as the core of self.
    • p. 7
  • Steven Pinker … advances interesting ideas about understanding human mind in terms of “reverse engineering”: we see that adaptations to our environment have been achieved, and define our task as explaining the means by which these have come about. … But Pinker finds music making—universal in all cultures—to be anomalous. Which means there must be something basically wrong or missing in his view. James could have told him what it is: To miss the joy is to miss all. … The fusion of reality and ideal novelty excites and empowers us, and does so because we are organisms which, to be vital, must celebrate our being.
    • p. 34

External links[edit]

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