The Crisis of Philosophy. Between Sociology and Literature

Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron


The article states the current crisis in philosophy and provides a thorough examination of its causes and prospective outcomes. It is argued that the crisis of philosophy is most clearly identified in: 1) dissolution of philosophy on a social and sociological tier, 2) negation of philosophical problems in the hermeneutical text analysis tradition, 3) the specialization process of extreme philosophy. The first moment of crisis the author highlights in reading T. Pinkard’s texts. In these texts philosophy is reduced to sociology through a certain interpretation of Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit, where I consciousness is considered on a purely social level. The author shows that this interpretation is contrary to the essence of Hegel’s philosophy because, according to Hegel, interpersonal encounter, considered at the famous master / slave dialectic, determining I consciousness, is not of a social nature. It must be understood primarily as a historical expression of the absolute Spirit, found through metaphysical thinking. The second crisis moment philosophy, is encountered while reading of M. Nussbaum’s works, in a certain literary text reading manner, the real scope of philosophical problems - the authentic concept of transcendence - is narrowed to the shallow perception of transcendence, missing the opportunities for philosophy in the very literary texts. The author of this article sees the philosophical perspectives of interpretation, which literary hermeneutics is unable to discern and as a result reduces the philosophical concept, in the works of such authors as Ovid, H. James M. Proust, quoted by M. Nussbaum. The third moment of philosophy crisis is diagnosed in the context of the current position of sciences dominated by the extreme specialization. The philosophers’ reflections are understandable only to a narrow circle of specialists. It is a sign that such philosophy has generally lost communication with the human reality, and, therefore, is inauthentic philosophy. As a way of exit from the crisis of philosophy the author suggests learning about the spiritual reality that be exercised via two concepts: gentleness and simplicity. A deep understanding of these concepts in the metaphysical sense opens an authentic philosophizing field. To illustrate this manner of philosophizing, the author draws on numerous examples, with the major focus on French philosophers Pierre Hadot and Louis Lavelle. Gentle and simple assessment of reality, creates a special relationship field between people and between thinkers, which celebrates growth of the authentic philosophy.


philosophy; crisis; sociology; literature; Hegel; Pinkard; Nussbaum; Hadot; gentleness; simplicity

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236