I am heading to Brazil to talk about Thoreau at a bi-centennial conference. I was sent a set of questions to answer for a pre-conference publication. Here are the answers. I haven’t included the questions, but they are easy enough to reverse engineer.
Question 1: Wittgenstein and Thoreau.
I have long been most fascinated, most challenged and changed, by philosophers who combine analytical rigor with existential pathos. I strategize that bringing Wittgenstein and Thoreau together makes more visible the existential pathos of the one, Wittgenstein, and the analytical rigor of the other, Thoreau. So you could say that my strategy is to use each to insist on the completeness of the other, and so to offset the tendency to find only analytical rigor in Wittgenstein (if even that) or existential pathos in Thoreau (if even that).
Each writes in a way that creates a desire to refuse him:…
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