Archive for October, 2010

How is “real book” defined?

October 22, 2010

“Quite simply: it is a book one wants to reread. It can stand rereading because it is very full—of ideas and feelings, of scenes and persons real or imagined, of strange accidents and situations and judgments of behavior: it is a world in itself, like and unlike the world already in our head. For this reason, this fullness, it may well be “hard to get into.” But it somehow compels one to keep turning the page, and at the end the wish to reread is clear and strong: one senses that the work contains more than met the eye the first time around.” (Jacques Barzun, Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning)

Philosophical Taste

October 14, 2010

The table below shows the number of times each thinker was referred to in articles that appeared in the sociology journals available through JSTOR. It seems indeed that “there is wisdom in being alluring yet inaccessible” (Barzun 1983).

Thinker # of References First Apperance
Marx 8839 (1893)
Foucault 4438 (1964)
Bourdieu 2658 (1964)
Marcuse 1746 (1964)
Nietzsche 1632 (1964)
Hegel 1622 (1891)
Kant 1381 (1891)
Heidegger 1045 (1964)
Derrida 968 (1966)
James 781 (1897)
Descartes 736 (1895)
Sartre 654 (1945)
Schopenhauer 221 (1894)

Lucidity and True Art

October 14, 2010

“There is of course no obligation to be both a thinker and a great writer; but when one compares James with other philosophers one is tempted to wonder whether in the world’s opinion lucidity and true art may not be a handicap. Clarity exposes every joint of the structure and leaves no difficulties for textual critics to build a career upon. Note how Kant and Hegel have given employment by their ambiguities, how Marx has generated flourishing schools by being obscure and confused, how Stendhal’s secretive journals and letters maintain an industry, how even Wagner’s lucubrations have lured good minds to tax their strength in the effort to make him a thinker. Nobody could make a name in this fashion by setting up as a professional clarifier of the lucid, of Descartes, Berkeley, or Schopenhauer, Berlioz, Diderot, or James. More than ever today, when interpretation (rebabtized hermeneutics, as if to make my point) is rampant, there is wisdom in being alluring yet inaccessible.” (Jacques Barzun, A Stroll with William James)

Interdisciplinary Citations

October 13, 2010

The graph below shows the average number of times the top economics journals “cited” the top sociology journals and vice versa. Why am I not surprised?!