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Philosophy Outside-InA Critique of Academic Reason$
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Christopher Norris

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748684557

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748684557.001.0001

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Provoking Philosophy

Provoking Philosophy

Shakespeare, Johnson, Wittgenstein, Derrida

(p.205) Chapter 7 Provoking Philosophy
Philosophy Outside-In

Christopher Norris

Edinburgh University Press

This final chapter offers tentative answers to three (I think) closely related questions. The first asks: what is it about Shakespeare that has so sharply polarized responses between those, the vast majority, who count him a creative genius of the first rank and those, a vocal minority, who either (like Dr. Johnson) endorse that estimate with large reservations or else (like Ludwig Wittgenstein) profess to find it incomprehensible? The second question asks: what is it about the writings of Jacques Derrida that provokes such extreme hostility amongst certain philosophers – in particular those of a broadly ‘analytic’ persuasion – that they see fit to denounce his works very often on the basis of minimal or second-hand acquaintance? The third question asks what these two negative responses might have in common and hence what they might indicate concerning the marked commonality between Shakespeare’s and Derrida’s challenge to the claims of ‘ordinary language’ (or commonsense judgment) as an ultimate court of appeal. Hence my focus on Wittgenstein’s strangely ambivalent attitude to Shakespeare, or his constant veering-about between high disdain for the estimate spouted by ‘a thousand professors of literature’ and a nagging sense of the Shakespearean ‘sublime’ as something beyond his own comprehension.

Keywords:   continental philosophy, creativity, Derrida, Dr. Johnson, language, metaphor, Shakespeare, sublime, Wittgenstein

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