Thinking: From Solitude to Dialogue and Contemplation

Thinking: From Solitude to Dialogue and Contemplation

Thinking: From Solitude to Dialogue and Contemplation

Thinking: From Solitude to Dialogue and Contemplation


Philosophers speak - or, rather, they respond to various forms of speaking that are handed to them. This book by one of our most distinguished philosophers focuses on the communicative aspect of philosophical thought. Peperzak's central focus is addressing: what distinguishes speaking or writing from rumination is their being directed by someone to someone. To be involved in philosophy is to be part of a tradition through which thinkers propose their findings to others, who respond by offering their own appropriations to their interlocutors. After a critical sketch of the conception of modern philosophy, Peperzak presents a succinct analysis of speaking, insisting on the radical distinction between speaking about and speaking to. He enlarges this analysis to history and tries to answer the question whether philosophy also implies a certain form of listening and responding to words of God.


Philosophy entails thinking. and thinking entails living a human life. Philosophy also entails thinking about thinking—and about the lives from which philosophies emerge.

For more than a century, numerous philosophers have drawn our attention to the dependence of philosophy on common facts and events that cannot be constructed or reconstructed, and even less destructed, by thinking alone. Such facts are, for example, the individual thinker’s unique birth and education, the tradition(s) and the ethos of the surrounding society with its particular culture and history, the language used, and the religion (with or without God) in which each thinker is rooted. However, one basic, decisive, and irreducible fact has not received sufficient attention: as emerging from a lived life, thinking, including thinking about thinking, entails speaking.

Philosophers speak—or, rather, philosophers listen to a speaking that is already there and then respond to it, thus becoming speakers in turn. All speaking is imitation and response: handing on what we have heard, but transforming it through appropriation and donation.

This book focuses on the speaking aspect of philosophical thought. It invites you, Reader, to listen and look into the to and fro that structures philosophy as a peculiar kind of communication. the central issue can be evoked through the word addressing: what . . .

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