NYTStanley Fish hits on something important here: we all have our objects of “unreflective scorn,” and he’s right, I think, that meeting and knowing them makes it less possible to scorn them.  There’s a profound lesson in reflection on both of those facts.


The German philosopher Jürgen Habermas is a luminary who occupies such a place in my anti-pantheon. I have been throwing verbal brickbats at Habermas for years (I once even called for him to be prevented from writing anymore; I didn’t specify the means), poking academic fun at his slogans (like “ideal speech situation” and “universal pragmatics”) and trumpeting the emptiness of his program to anyone who would listen.

This means that Habermas (along with a few others I will not name) is very important to me. I feel that I couldn’t get along without him. I need him to be there. If he were taken away from me, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d have to find someone else to be the object of my unreflective scorn. And that would prove difficult, given that Habermas, or anyone else who might fill this slot, has very particular views (the ones I love to hate), and installing a disciple or a simulacrum in his place would not really be satisfying.

{Read it all: When Harry Should Avoid Meeting Sally – NYTimes.com.}

H/t: @craiguffman