PHILOSPHY IN A NW KEY REIVISTIED: AN APPRECIATION OF SUSANNE LANGER
MUCH of what we learn, even within academic disciplines, is picked up as general wisdom, as ideas that are "in the air"; such knowledge can be absorbed simply as a part of breathing in an intellectual atmosphere. Certain ideas and concepts are acquired in more specific situations, in textbooks, discussion groups, or formal courses, only to have their sources forgotten once the "point" has been absorbed. Just a small part of our knowledge retains traces from the moment of original encounter--we remember certain "crystallizing" experiences, for instance, an occasional lecture, a powerful poem, painting, or piece of music, a passage from the Bible or the Iliad, and, infrequently, some pages from a path-breaking work of shco0laerhsip, perhaps Sigmund Freud 's On the Psychopathology of Everyday Life.
In the early 1960s, I, like many other students of that time, encountered a book that had just such an enduring influence on me. The book itself was physically unimposing: a thin Mentor paperback, its cover bordered with bands of gold and decorated with an odd montage consisting of a lyre, a dragon, and a Socratic figure. But the book's content was riveting, its messages memorable. As I turned its pages