Author(s): Donald Phillip Verene
This book contends that both Anglo-American analytic philosophy and Continental philosophy have lost their vitality, and it offers an alternative in their place. Donald Phillip Verene advocates a renewal of contemporary philosophy through a return to its origins in Socratic humanism and to the notions of civil wisdom, eloquence, and prudence as guides to human action. Verene critiques reflection--the dominant form of philosophical thought that developed from Descartes and Locke--and shows that reflection is not only a philosophical doctrine but is also connected to the life-form of technological society. He analyzes the nature of technological society and argues that, based on the expansion of human desire, such a society has eliminated the values embodied in the tradition of human folly as understood by Brant, Erasmus, and others. Focusing in particular on the traditions of some of the late Greeks and the Romans, Renaissance humanism, and the thought of Giambattista Vico, this book's concern is to revive the ancient Delphic injunction, "Know thyself," an idea of civil wisdom Verene finds has been missing since Descartes. The author recovers the meaning of the vital relations that poetry, myth, and rhetoric had with philosophy in thinkers like Cicero, Quintilian, Isocrates, Pico, Vives, and Vico. He arrives at a conception of philosophy as a form of memory that requires both rhetoric and poetry to accomplish self-knowledge.