Literary Form, Philosophical Content: Historical Studies of Philosophical Genres

Literary Form, Philosophical Content: Historical Studies of Philosophical Genres

Literary Form, Philosophical Content: Historical Studies of Philosophical Genres

Literary Form, Philosophical Content: Historical Studies of Philosophical Genres

Excerpt

LITERARY FORM, PHILOSOPHICAL CONTENT: HISTORICAL STUDIES OF PHILOSOPHICAL GENRES aims at a wide audience and is intended to be serviceable for undergraduate and graduate students, while making a substantive contribution to scholarly research. It is difficult to serve all these masters in a single book, but this seems to be a special case.

There has been so little research on the plethora of genres that have been used by philosophers that most of the work presented in this book can be described as a beginning—not at square one, but pretty close. Each chapter of Literary Form, Philosophical Content casts fresh light on the work of Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Friedrich Nietzsche, J. L. Austin, and others. Yet, the corners into which we have directed these lights are not so dark that central features are indiscernible to students reading these authors for the first time. So it does seem possible to speak to professors and their students at the same time and to present innovative research to specialists while instructing students and generalists. Still, we do not expect students and researchers to have the same experience in reading the book or that everyone will read it in exactly the same way.

Specialists may be confident that our authors are familiar with existing scholarly work on the subject of their respective chapters. After all, research on the literary forms of philosophy is not so innovative that contributors can turn their backs on existing scholarship. Indeed, existing scholarly debates are always in the background of our chapters, even as the focus remains concentrated on the primary sources. Specialists will find something original in every chapter. Scholars whose interest lies in the area broadly defined as intellectual history will find it worthwhile to read the book in its entirety.

We hope that students will appreciate our efforts to make the book accessible. Each chapter is modest in length, and neither the analysis nor the interpretation depends on any special theoretical apparatus or esoteric school of interpretation. Each contribution is a reliable guide to the primary sources and the genres represented by our selected texts. Senior undergraduates and graduate . . .
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