Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Apperceptive Mass

"... I am more than ever convinced of the desirability for the student or general reader of an 'apperceptive mass'—in common terms, a large dose of information with which to fill out the abstractions he is so ready to accept or reject on their mere congeniality or the reverse." Jacques Barzun, Classic, Romantic, and Modern (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1975), xii.

I would agree. And a complete lack of 'apperceptive mass' seems to me characteristic of what passes today for the "history of philosophy" and "the history of ideas." But what is more disconcerting to me is that this holds not just for "the student or general reader," but also for many of the authors of such productions, who seem to be proud of the lack of apperceptive mass that allows them to reconstruct philosophical (and other) theories in terms of what is congenial or congenial to them.

No comments: