A philosopher dedicated to clear exposition

In 1984, my marriage to Cindy was in serious trouble. I had started once a week therapy with a McLean Hospital based psychiatrist named Lenore Boling, and I used the sessions really just to give voice to my unhappiness with what my relationship with Cindy had become. Despite the unhappiness, I do not think I ever shed a tear in those sessions over the shambles of the marriage. One day, however, I started talking about my work. I tried to explain to Dr. Boling that in all of my writing, whether it was on Kant's First Critique or Hume's Treatise or Das Kapital, my goal always was to plumb the depths of the author's central idea and recast it in a form so simple, so clear, so transparent that I could hold it before my students or my readers and show them its beauty. As I said these words, tears started to well up in me, and I finally had to stop talking because I could not finish. It was the only time in twenty years of psychotherapy that I cried openly in a session. Ever since that day, twenty-five years ago, I have understood that it is this intellectual intuition of the transparent beauty of an idea, not the desire for status or recognition or money, that has throughout my life been the driving force behind my writing and teaching. This is why it makes little difference to me whether reviewers agree with what I say, and it is why I am made somewhat uncomfortable by praise. The intrinsic beauty of the idea is the focus of my concern. It seems that I am, after all, more capable of shedding tears for the central argument of the Deduction of the Pure Concepts of Understanding than I am for a failed marriage or even for a deceased parent. I am not at all sure that is admirable, but it is closer to the truth about myself than I have ever come before.

That's from Robert Paul Wolff, hat tip goes to The Browser.


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