Since Descartes (whose Radical Doubt long preceded Nietzsche’s God is Dead moment), Western philosophy has been dominated by a nostalgia for lost Being, for the sacred cosmos that made our lives an epic drama of interaction with the gods. The 20th century was dominated by Ludwig Wittgenstein, who turned mostly away from the problem and thought about how language constitutes the world we live in, and Martin Heidegger, who seems to have maintained the possibility of a romantic semi-mystical phenomenological intuition (for want of a better word) of Being.
When I was an undergraduate and graduate student at Edinburgh, the problem of lost Being did obsess me (probably more than was healthy); my solution was to throw myself into the study of Kant, who turned out not to have solved the problem. My son Jacob has inherited the family obsession, and, willy-nilly, has thrown himself into the study of Heidegger (and his student Gadamer). It’s a fascinating family dynamic; I only grasped it the other day walking the dog, who is a Cynic.
Wes Cecil is, as I have said before, a remarkable, funny, passionate lecturer, a massively helpful Virgil in the Land of the Philosophical Shades.
- I fear only Jacob will get this joke. The word “cynic” comes from the Greek kunikos, which means dog-like.↵