Future, Present, & Past:
Speculative~~ Giving itself latitude and leisure to take any premise or inquiry to its furthest associative conclusion.
Critical~~ Ready to apply, to itself and its object, the canons of reason, evidence, style, and ethics, up to their limits.
Traditional~~ At home and at large in the ecosystem of practice and memory that radically nourishes the whole person.
Friday, May 13, 2011
A while ago I touched upon the question of philosophers I wish would be translated. This post finally got some comments; I hope to see more. Here's one: Erich Przywara, whose controversy with Karl Barth on the analogia entis is one of the great chapters of 20th century theology, but whose works are almost non-existent in English. Or another:Eric Weil, a translation of whose Logic of Philosophy is still nowhere to be seen. (You can get Hegel and the State easily and a collection of essays edited by Kluback if you keep checking the online used book sources religiously.)
Another would be Louis Lavelle. Lavelle's philosophy may seem like a transition between Bergson's and Sartre's, not only in terms of chronology (he held the chair formerly occupied by Bergson at the College of France, and he died in 1951 as existentialism was coming into ascendancy), but in terms of doctrine: we associate the phrase "existence precedes essence" with Sartre, but in Of the Act (1937), Lavelle had already declared that "we need to posit our existence [before] discover[ing] our essence." But unlike either Sartre of Bergson, Lavelle's name did not catch on outside of France. A 1947 article by James Collins of St Louis University called "Louis Lavelle on Human Participation" (ah yes, that explains my interest) is almost the only secondary piece I know, aside from some book reviews (there is also supposed to be a study on The Experience of Being in the philosophy of Louis Lavelle by Joanne Opalek, but I have never seen it). For a very long time almost nothing has been available by Lavelle himself for the anglophone. I have owned a little blue volume called The Dilemma of Narcissus for about 10 years (this one you can get fairly cheap), and recently tracked down Introduction to Ontology, which, I don't mind telling you, was not an easy task. Nothing else has been Englished except a book on four saints (St. Francis, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales) called The Meaning of Holiness, which I've not seen. But all these books are from Lavelle's "minor," "moralist" writings (though I commend Dilemma to you; there's a brief post touching on it here by Bill Vallicella). What I've longed to sink my teeth into was Lavelle's tetralogy Dialectic of the Eternal Present.
Now it can finally happen. The website of the French Association Louis Lavelle has made available selections from Lavelle's major works, translated by Robert Jones, along with very helpful introductory essay and notes by Jones. Serious students of philosophy and scholars of French thought are indebted to him.