The Philosopher is Not at Home

 

At Home He's a Tourist



Novalis got it exactly wrong: what a philosopher desires is not to be at home - a philosopher desires not to be at home even when she is at home.  The philosopher desires alienation, estrangement, distance - critical distance - perspective.  At least enough perspective to be able to ask the question - the question no one else is asking - the question no one else can ask, because they are too embedded in... in their lives.  

It is a kind of uncanniness that the philosopher seeks.  The philosopher seeks the uncanniness that gives rise to the question.

When the philosopher is at home everywhere - that is the moment of utter disappointment.  Or rather, the spur to action.  The philosopher works toward perpetual creative alienation - that is the very purpose of philosophy: to confront the world in its total unfamiliarity, its uncanniness.  The philosopher learns not know anything, learns not to recognize anyone.  To see every text as if for the first time.  In philosophy, all things are new.

A parallel, and even greater challenge is the vocation of the artist: to create unfamiliar worlds.

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