On the other hand, philosophy has been practised and taught principally by those who, from reading the works of their gloomy predecessors, have but little room left for the feelings, over which they have, as it were, drawn an insensible cuticle, and we have consequently been led through a labyrinth of metaphysical subtlety and wordiness, which have principally served the purpose of producing big books, and disgusting the understanding.
Johann Joachim Winckelmann, The History of Ancient Art, Book IV, Dresden, 1764; translated by Henry Lodge, Boston, MA, 1880.
Why do I post this quote, what purpose can it possibly serve?
There are two reasons why I post it. One is because I feel implicated in it, in that I am attempting to deal with the quote’s target (Art History, Philosophy, “big books”). And, secondly, I do it because I cannot take what I am involved in too seriously, I have to poke fun at it. Although this is admittedly a diversionary tactic—some kind of obfuscation, or attempt to bring it down to earth—it’s also an important method of opening the subject-matter up for analysis.
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