Saturday, 7 June 2008

Teenage philosophes

In Philosophie Magazine, in a section on Schopenhauer, among brief accounts by writers and intellectuals of how he has affected them, I find this by one Gabriel Matzneff (my attempt at translation):

“In my adolescence Arthur Schopenhauer was one of my masters; it is he who, more than Nietzche or Dostoyevsky, awoke the life of the mind in me. The state of mind in which, at 17, I was plunged by the discovery of his works was extreme. For example, the idea that the world is pure representation and that if one suppressed this the physical world vanishes… I was like a blind person who had had an operation to remove a cataract and who could suddenly see. Even today Schopenhauer remains an indispensible travelling companion. Exiled to a desert island with an allowance of only one book, I would choose *The World As Will and Representation.”

I wonder: in England, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand… is any teenager awakened into intellectual awareness today by any philosopher? Do other kinds of works–e.g. literature (Dostoyevsky?) –have that effect?

Indeed, do adolescents still experience this sort of awakening at all? If so, what causes it these days?

That’s a genuine question. I have little to do people of that age any more and just don’t know.
I’d actually welcome comments on this, if you can work out how to do it.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

In Sheffield, among my own offspring's friends, there have been fine examples of action related to what you describe. A group formed PIP - Philosophy in Pubs - a weekly encounter around a few beers tackling tricky issues in philosophy. Well attended, lively and well informed.