De-reading philosophy

from Jose Ortega y Gasset, What is Philosophy?

“Philosophy cannot be read, it must be de-read – that is, one must re-think each phrase, and this assumes that you break it into the words which form its ingredients; you then take each one of them, and instead of resting content with surveying its agreeable surface, you must throw yourself headlong into it, submerge yourself in it, go down into the depths of its meaning, look well to its anatomy and its boundaries in order to emerge again into the free air as master of its secret heart. When one does this with all the words of a sentence, they stay united not side by side, but subterraneously, joined by the very roots of their ideas; only then do they truly compose a philosophic phrase. For horizontal reading, the kind that slips along, for simple mental skating down the page, one must substitute vertical reading, immersion in the small abyss which is each word, a fruitful dive without a diving bell.”

 

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2 thoughts on “De-reading philosophy

  1. sandiatwood

    Reminds me of the directed reading we did for Spinoza’s The Immendation of the Intellect. We read it one sentence st a time and literally considered and discussed every word. We didn’t get through more than a third of the way through but that experience remains the most satisfying and mind bending of my academic career. We got in Spinoza’s mind it seems and I swear at times I could hear him whispering what he meant by each word. (I know you will explain what I heard otherwise haha but for me, it was Spinoza.)

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