Edward Mooney on Continuum’s Blog

Edward F. Mooney (Philosophy and Religion, Syracuse University), the author of the recently published Lost Intimacy in American Thought: Recovering Personal Philosophy from Thoreau to Cavell, has just written a guest post (about his new book) for Continuum Press’ publicity blog. To read the whole thing, click here. Here is an excerpt:

Each of the essays in Lost Intimacy is composed from an immediate yet lasting impulse to celebrate the impact on my reading and thinking life of a philosopher or writer, and of fragments of their thoughts tendered. Recovering personal philosophy is recovering the transfiguring impacts of writing addressed intimately that may well resonate not just with me, but with an indefinitely large circle of hearers—call it an infinite but intimate universal. Some aspect of the words or sentences of these writers would catch me off-guard, seem to resonate with my deepest interests in ways it was up to me to work out. My final essay is on Thoreau. I’m happy to report my discovery, or rediscovery that, he is so much more than an endearing tramper and outspoken defender of civil resistance. In an adventure rich beyond my wildest dreams, I’ve found a subtle and penetrating philosopher who can hold his own, in range and depth, with Schiller or Schopenhauer—and as Cavell had argued in the early 1970s (to little avail), who can converse with Kant and Wittgenstein. This makes a full circle. Both Bugbee and Cavell learned from and leaned on Thoreau, with whom they worked out their conviction that exposing one’s intimacy with place and one’s friends and others can be worthy philosophy. These essays are late appreciations that are tendered to a circle of writers who testify to the intimate side of reflective philosophical life. They deliver works of remarkable accomplishment despite the dispiriting power of professionalization, and despite the deep pressures in philosophy to disown all intimate exposure in pursuit of a broad dispassionate view from the top. I attempt here a measure of appreciation and a gesture of resistance and transformation, a small step down toward recovery of the personal…

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