March 3, 2021
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v2.1 Reference

Mystery and Intelligibility

History of Philosophy as Pursuit of Wisdom

Philosophy is born in its history as pursuit of the wisdom we are never able fully to know. Mystery and Intelligibility: History of Philosophy as Pursuit of Wisdom both argues for that method and presents the results it can achieve.

Editor Jeffrey Dirk Wilson has gathered essays from six philosophical luminaries. In "History, Philosophy, and the History of Philosophy," Timothy B. Noone provides the volume's discourse on method in which he distinguishes three tiers of history. History of philosophy as method occupies the third and highest tier. John Rist reckons with contemporary corruption of the method in "A Guide for the Perplexed or How to Present or Pervert the History of Philosophy." Wilson's own essay, "Wonder and the Discovery of Being: From Homeric Myth to the Natural Genera of Early Greek Philosophy," shows the loss of wonder, so evident in mythology, by early Greek thinkers and its recovery by Plato and Aristotle. In "Metaphysics and the Origin of Culture," Donald Phillip Verene demonstrates the wide cultural implications of philosophical discoveries even when the discovery is the boundary of what humans can know. William Desmond offers an essay, "Flux-Gibberish: For and Against Heraclitus," that owes as much to the humor of James Joyce as to the philosophical insights of philosophers, ancient, medieval, and modern. Eric D. Perl's essay turns to the apophatic character of pursuing wisdom, perhaps especially when asking what may be the most fundamental metaphysical question: "Into the Dark: How (Not) to Ask, 'Why is There Anything at All.'" Philipp W. Rosemann concludes the volume with the question best asked at the end of this literary seminar, "What is Philosophy?"

Although there are philosophers within the analytic and continental schools who are committed to the history of philosophy, Mystery and Intelligibility demonstrates that history of philosophy as a third and distinct philosophical method is revelatory of the nature and structure of reality.

About the Author

Jeffrey Dirk Wilson is associate professor of philosophy at The Catholic University of America.


"The special value of this collection is that the writers, especially of theoretical essays, present boldly a view of philosophy, as a search of ultimate truth and wisdom, that is very rarely heard in most Anglophone universities."—Review of Metaphysics

"Discusses from different angles very important themes related to understanding philosophy as a discipline. Raises many good points and provides many valuable insights. No recent philosophy book treats the same cluster of topics that Mystery and Intelligibility covers."—Robert A. Delfino, St. John's University

"This excellent volume presents the metaphysical and epistemological insights of seven leading philosophers who explore the luminous mystery that lies at the edge of intelligibility, and the superabundant intelligibility that resides at the heart of mystery. The authors exemplify the practice of historically informed philosophy at its best: they engage the history of philosophy in a way that does justice to thinkers of the past but at the same time brings these thinkers to life as heedworthy interlocutors for us today. Or stated differently, the authors demonstrate performatively that the timeless and the timely (or one might also say: the deeply metaphysical and the deeply personal) can be shown to merge with one another..This collection is historically informative, philosophically thought-provoking, and existentially edifying"—Michael Baur, Fordham University

"As Josef Pieper tells us, it is only the person who participates in a tradition who has the capacity to practice philosophy seriously. Tradition keeps the most serious questions of human life open for the philosopher because tradition preserves mystery. This volume attempts to recover that mystery and the wonder it evokes by affirming the study of the history of philosophy as the tradition in which the true philosopher participates. It stands against the current reduction of philosophy to ideologies of suspicion, resentment, and unmasking. As Wilson's introduction puts it: without history of philosophy, philosophy ceases to be philosophy."—Ann Hartle, Professor Emeritus, Emory University

"In this elegant and engaging volume, Jeffrey Dirk Wilson has convened a community of leading scholars to reflect in collaboration upon the nature of the history of philosophy, as well as on what that history summatively offers to teach us about the pursuit of wisdom in the present age. Renowned authors and educators Donald Phillip Verne, William Desmond, Timothy Noone, John Rist, Eric D. Perl, and Philipp W, Rosemann have made profound contributions to this volume, which also includes a remarkable essay, gleaned from the pages of the Review of Metaphysics by the editor himself. Together these pieces invite readers to consider themselves as both recipients and perpetuators of what Hans-Georg Gadamer characterized as 'that conversation that we are.'"—George Lucas , author of The Ordering of Time: Meditations on the History of Philosophy

"Throughout the chapters of this book run the twin themes of muthos and logos—the stories we tell and the underlying rational order that makes them true. The essays collected here practice philosophy by studying the history of philosophy. It is an ancient practice, but more necessary now in our forgetful time: a bond among friends, a discovery of wonder, and a discipline of gratitude, as the authors delight in sharing with the reader the treasures they have found in the wise writings of the past"—David K. O'Connor, University of Notre Dame

9780813234182 : mystery-and-intelligibility-wilson
280 Pages
$75.00 USD

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