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On Philosophical Style

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0837119755
ISBN-10: 0837119758
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"In these few pages, Professor Blanshard has said the last word on style in philosophy. The reader is expertly conducted on a tour of inspection of all relevant areas, in and out of philosophy proper." (Virgil C. Aldrich, The Journal of Philosophy)

"Everything he says may be said about writing in general, and that some philosophers - or at least one - can write clearly, rhythmically, and profoundly is proven by the author himself." (John J. Kessler, The Humanist)

"Notable as probably the first book specifically on this subject by a distinguished philosopher." -- Bibliographie de la Philosophie --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 68 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwood Pub Group (June 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0837119758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0837119755
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,382,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Brand Blanshard's prose style was itself a seamless implementation of the content of his philosophy: intelligible, clear, precise, and invariably suffused by what he called the "rational temper." In this book (really an extended essay) he offers helpful advice to would-be writers of philosophical prose -- advice that he had more than earned the right to give.

This single volume, if its advice were heeded, would have spared us the dark cogitations of many an obfuscatory philosopher and left the field of philosophy in the hands of those who had something to say. Those who are impressed by the bold pronouncements of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein will find little solace here, but anyone who expects philosophers actually to love wisdom will be delighted to encounter a kindred spirit. Read it not only to profit from its advice on prose style but also to absorb something of the spirit of twentieth century philosophy's greatest exemplar of reasonableness.
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Format: Paperback
Brand Blanshard was one of the great philosophers of the 20th century, now badly neglected. His "On Philosophical Style" is a gem about how to write well, namely, how to think well. I used it for many years in philosophy courses.
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Format: Paperback
Blanshard's text is an enjoyable read and strangely hilarious with such gems as "A philosopher who is precious, mannered, or self-conscious is a bore, either in person or on paper." His peculiar need for every sentence to be accessible to Blanshard's standards leads him to side with Reichenbach's critique of Hegel's prose as being misleading because Hegel, of all things, does not use the term "reason" as it is "generally used." I would think it might be the end of philosophy if philosophers only used terms as they had been used before. Oh, sorry, Plato, but we don't use eidos that way. But all of this frumpy analytic harrumphing over philosophy is itself part of the curious charm of this book. It is like watching a eloquent old eccentric man chastise the youth of today. Now, could we imagine previous greats in philosophy as achieving even greater heights if they had bothered cleaning up their prose? Or is the density of the material part of its message? Blanshard believes that because there are eloquent philosophers, it cannot be the case that obscurity is required for good philosophy. "Berkeley proved against all the Heideggers of the world that philosophy can be written clearly, against all the Hegels that it can be written simply, against all the Kants that it can be written with grace." Suffering through Hegel or Kant seems a rite of passage, but I do have to agree with Blanshard after suffering through some impenetrable contemporary philosophy articles the other day that a little grace would be welcome.
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