Small Comment on the Extrinsic Difficulty of Sustaining Philosophic Work
In philosophy the extrinsic problems have to be considered, for the reason that one may not be able to keep to the level of the past, and if one can not do that the possibility of ever raising to that level may never recur. I make a remark that is thinking of the future, when the situation of today will not be available to the researcher. Exactly when “today” will become the “future” is not entirely clear, but let us say a few decades. Today, just today, while the personal students of Leo Strauss are still alive, we can say with great confidence that the “neo-conservative” reputation of Strauss is absolute nonsense. In the future this might be understood through serious study. What would be understood by a careful student would be that the GOP and the DNC marked out a parochial territory in the history of the West so far as an adiquitly-sighted student of philosophy is the one thinking of them. The enormity of the distortion of Strauss’s position, has something to do with the fact that what is most characteristic of thought does not have issue in texts, or only as a bare shining through that one might catch glimmer of if one happened to have a powerful sense of such things.
What is necessary in any thought is a competence. This is nothing unusual in itself, as competence. Everyone knows that some people have a bit of artistic sense, and others almost or actually no such sense. Some people have no sense of images, others of numbers, some have no sense of a good cup of coffee. We all know that the region of gifts varies and that the world is crowded with a thousand and one such gifts or skills. And some reach into rarefied countries where only a very few have any sense. This is something everyone knows, but how sorry it is when one begins to speak of philosophic knowledge, and of the things that lay about there, and how little does anyone dream of recalling what they know from life within the English thought? In fact it takes a certain education to avoid these basic errors. Some education anyone, or almost anyone can get, if its practical availability is not lacking. Everyone knows many things that one ceases to remember when they begin to speak in a classroom.
What I wish to indicate is that the view I will name Historicism, the view of Husserl, Dilthey, Heidegger and many others, is no longer noticed these days. Studying is of little help. It is a frightening view because it is serious, unlike the trivial and silly relativism of which one often hears as one marches through one’s life amidst the idiocies of the current day. Does anyone today even suspect these difficulties, which were obvious in the past? It seems, de facto, this Historicism is of no consequence, because human beings could not keep the prowess in those regions alive. It is almost as though the devastating insolidity which this thought wrecks on human being, on all one's experience on the earth, were still waiting to renew itself and rise from its sunken concealment.
Aristotle understood a distinction between the full actuality, entelecheia, and mere actuality kata to ergon which was sustained by the essence of the human being. One’s involvement in the matter hazards itself in the thought, which wants to begin to think itself.