Introduction

by melanchologist

At long last I have finally decided to undertake a project that has been in the making for many months, if not years.  My intention with this blog is to utilize the format (the blog itself) as an ongoing journal and exploration into the history of Western Philosophy, starting with the Presocratics.

By way of explaining my reasons for engaging in this academic endeavor, I will provide a little background about myself and my interests.  I am currently a stay-at-home parent and have previously worked in academia and finance.  I have no formal training in philosophy, so my entire approach to the questions and arguments of Western Philosophy will be that of the layman.  The questions of who we are, why we think the way we do, and the meaning of existence have always plagued me.  I enjoy literature and history and have read some philosophy at various points in my life.  My knowledge of philosophy, however, is spotty at best, and I hope that by starting at the “beginning,” as it were, and working my way forward chronologically I will gain many important insights about myself and the world, in addition to polishing up my critical thinking skills.

If I may be permitted a brief anecdote, several years ago I took a college course on contemporary literary theory.  One of the readings for the course was a brief excerpt from Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time.  I slogged my way through it, reading and re-reading passages, sometimes several times over.  I found it infuriating at the time, not because anything in the text was particularly offensive, but rather that Heidegger’s writing was so dense, abstract, and (to my mind) incomprehensible that I had a difficult time believing that the author’s intentions were anything other than perpetrating a sick joke upon the reader (a la The Sokal Hoax).  I have since then acquired a copy of Being and Time, and have read some secondary literature on the work.  Additionally, I have listened to several interesting podcasts on Heidegger, such as the wonderful philosophy website, The Partially Examined Life,  Hubert Dreyfus’ Berkeley lectures on Heidegger, and Sean Kelly’s Harvard lectures on Being and Time as well.  Admittedly, the work makes more sense to me now, but I don’t believe that it can be fully understood (if one is indeed capable of this at all) without first having a considerable understanding of the Western philosophical canon.  In a humble effort to one day achieve a modicum of fluency in the Western philosophical tradition, I present this blog as a record of my efforts.

On a side note, I have a long-standing interest in art, music, and film, and I hope to intersperse post pertaining to philosophy with the occasional rant and/or review of music, film, and the arts.  On that note, I wish to welcome you to my blog, thank you for joining me, and encourage comments and meaningful, substantive discourse.

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