Philosophy Between the Lines is the first comprehensive, book-length study of the history and theoretical basis of philosophical esotericism, and it provides a crucial guide to how many major writings—philosophical, but also theological, political, and literary—were composed prior to the nineteenth century. Table of Contents. The Testimonial Evidence for Esotericism 2.
Read the Texts Carefully, Asking Questions
Interlude: Two Brief Examples 3. Fear of Persecution: Defensive Esotericism 6. Dangerous Truths: Protective Esotericism 7. Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame. Ralph Lerner, University of Chicago.
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- The Lost History of Esoteric Writing.
Robert B. Pippin, University of Chicago. There has been so much more heat than light in the contentious debates about esoteric writing since Leo Strauss tried to reanimate attention to the phenomenon in the s that it is surprising that no one has tried to set out carefully the various aspects of the rhetorical practice and to compile the evidence that it not only existed but was a prominent feature of philosophical writing until the nineteenth century. Melzer has finally done this; lucidly, patiently, and in a graceful conversational style.
But he goes much farther. His book is philosophical as well as scholarly. It goes to the issue of late modern self-understanding itself, what we care about and what one might call our collective psychological relationship to the issue. No one even remotely interested in the topic of philosophical writing can afford to ignore this book. It is a major achievement and the sort of book that anyone can both strongly disagree with and at the same time be very grateful for.
George Kateb, Princeton University.
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It is that rare thing: an eye-opening book. It is candid about secrets, and there is no book like it. Melzer succeeds in his aim of showing that until the Enlightenment, almost all philosophers wanted to be understood by only a few and were worried that if they spoke all the truth they knew they would suffer persecution or contribute to the demoralization of society.
Without an awareness of the esoteric strategy, we would not know how to understand the course of speculation from Plato onward. Melzer lights up every issue he examines. By making the world before Enlightenment appear as strange as it truly was, he makes our world stranger than we think it is. Tracy B. Strong, University of California, San Diego.
Writing a Philosophy Essay
It is necessarily left to the reader of this excellent work to decide if Melzer has written an exoteric or esoteric book. Tyler Cowen Marginal Revolution. Or so we all think now. Philosophy Between the Lines is a double achievement, a landmark work in both intellectual history and political theory.
How to Write a Philosophy Statement for Art Education | Synonym
For the reader who is in the habit of underlining, be prepared to have a second pen on hand as your ink will run dry by mid-volume. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Here Meltzer finally delivers the kind of work we asked for back then. The book does an excellent job collecting the evidence for the existence of philosophic esotericism,. It deserves a wide and appreciative audience. Do not do this in formal prose, for the very good reason that if you do so you are liable to produce an irritating, if momentary, ambiguity which may distract the reader.
Suppose you write:. The sentence as a whole is of course not ambiguous, and once he or she gets to the end of it your reader will see what it means. But there is a risk that, on the way there, your reader will momentarily suppose that you are claiming that Aristotle tried to prove contradictions. Now that will puzzle your reader who may know a bit about Aristotle and cause unnecessary annoyance to boot when the reader realises that what you're actually trying to say is the exact reverse of this.
The general principle here is this: don't booby-trap your prose.
That is, don't write in such a way that, in order to reach the intended meaning, your reader first has to entertain, only to discard, unintended ambiguities and possible, but irrelevant, interpretations of your text. Writing to the required degree of precision and clarity is a very demanding exercise, and we are all guilty of falling short now and then just as we all sometimes make grammatical mistakes.
But the aim of your writing should be to make your reader's job as straightforward as possible. Of course some people are allowed to break just about any grammatical rule you care to mention though not all rules simultaneously, otherwise they would be literally unreadable : they are Great Writers. But the best advice to you is: in your philosophy essays at University, don't mimic Great Writers in the liberties they sometimes take with the language keep that for afterwards, or make it a spare-time activity ; just try to be a Good Writer. Good writers write stylishly, of course, but they also stick to the rules.
This advice especially applies to scripts you write for examinations. Remember the situation of your typical examiner: it is 2 a. The last thing your examiner in this situation wants is to be confronted with the script of a candidate who is trying to be a Great Writer: your examiner won't notice this, or won't appreciate it if he or she does, and will simply punish you for your solecisms.
It is all very well for Shakespeare to write:. O lest the world should task you to recite What merit liv'd in me that you should love, After my death dear love forget me quite. For you in me can nothing worthy prove, Unless you would devise some virtuous lie, And hang more praise upon deceased I Than niggard truth would willingly impart.
Sonnet But ordinary mortals, like you and me, should observe the rule just illustrated that prepositions are construed with the objective case see below on Cases and Prepositions and write 'upon deceased me' - which wouldn't rhyme - or rather 'on me, after I have passed away' - which would neither rhyme nor scan we're doing well here in our project to become merely good writers. Let's get down to business. The best way to improve your philosophical style is to pay close attention to, and imitate, the style of good modern philosophical writers. When you are reading secondary material, concentrate not just on what is said, but also on how it is said.
Look at the choice of vocabulary, the use of punctuation, and the rhetorical devices used to build up an argument. Make a note of points which strike you as useful or interesting.
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