Cart

Metaphysical Horror PDF, ePub eBook


Hot Best Seller
Title: Metaphysical Horror
Author: Leszek Kołakowski
Publisher: Published July 1st 2001 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1988)
ISBN: 9780226450551
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

660619-metaphysical-horror.pdf

In order to read or download eBook, you need to create FREE account.
eBook available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle versions


reward
How to download?
FREE registration for 1 month TRIAL Account.
DOWNLOAD as many books as you like (Personal use).
CANCEL the membership at ANY TIME if not satisfied.
Join Over 150.000 Happy Readers.


For over a century, philosophers have argued that philosophy is impossible or useless, or both. Although the basic notion dates back to the days of Socrates, there is still heated disagreement about the nature of truth, reality, knowledge, the good, and God. This may make little practical difference to our lives, but it leaves us with a feeling of radical uncertainty, a fe For over a century, philosophers have argued that philosophy is impossible or useless, or both. Although the basic notion dates back to the days of Socrates, there is still heated disagreement about the nature of truth, reality, knowledge, the good, and God. This may make little practical difference to our lives, but it leaves us with a feeling of radical uncertainty, a feeling described by Kolakowski as "metaphysical horror." "The horror is this," he says, "if nothing truly exists except the Absolute, the Absolute is nothing; if nothing truly exists except myself, I am nothing." The aim of this book, for Kolakowski, is finding a way out of this seeming dead end. In a trenchant analysis that serves as an introduction to nearly all of Western philosophy, Kolakowski confronts these dilemmas head on through examinations of several prominent philosophers including Descartes, Spinoza, Husserl, and many of the Neo-Platonists. He finds that philosophy may not provide definitive answers to the fundamental questions, yet the quest itself transforms our lives. It may undermine most of our certainties, yet it still leaves room for our spiritual yearnings and religious beliefs. The final sentence of the book captures the hopefulness that has survived the horror of nothingness when Kolakowski asks: "Is it not reasonable to suspect that if existence were pointless and the universe devoid of meaning, we would never have achieved not only the ability to imagine otherwise, but even the ability to entertain this very thought—to wit, that existence is pointless and the universe devoid of meaning?" The answer, of course, is clear. Now it is up to readers to take up the challenge of his arguments.

30 review for Metaphysical Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    No, this is not Thomas Ligotti (or the first season of True Detective for that matter): this is serious metaphysics written by a professional philosopher. Although the original dilemma he confronts may be similar to Ligotti's, the tentative solutions he suggests--indeed the fact that he even bothers to suggest a solution—puts his work in a different category entirely. Decartes opened the pit of metaphysical horror by entertaining radical doubt about the reliability of our senses. He attempted, by No, this is not Thomas Ligotti (or the first season of True Detective for that matter): this is serious metaphysics written by a professional philosopher. Although the original dilemma he confronts may be similar to Ligotti's, the tentative solutions he suggests--indeed the fact that he even bothers to suggest a solution—puts his work in a different category entirely. Decartes opened the pit of metaphysical horror by entertaining radical doubt about the reliability of our senses. He attempted, by his Cogito Ergo Sum, to build a bridge to the Absolute, but instead he merely established consciousness as the unbridgeable island of experience. But what is consciousness exactly? Is it just a single individual who is thinking? Or is it just thinking itself, a manifestation of the Absolute?. This is where the horror comes in. If I am the only thing there is, then I am nothing, and if the Absolute is the only thing there is, then the Absolute is nothing too. It is precisely in the connection between the two that meaning arises. Kolakowski takes us on an instructive trip through the land of philosophy showing us how philosophers both ancient and modern either tried to avoid the pit of horror or attempted to describe the scenery on either side of it. He admits though, that philosophers are still investigating the same questions the pre-Socratics and Socrates raised centuries ago, and have yet to come up with any definitive solutions. “A modern philosopher,” Kolakowski says, “ who has never experienced the feeling of being a charlatan is such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.” Kolakowski—who writes in a clear, readily accessible style—is definitely worth reading. He even suggests a few tentative solutions to the problem of the pit—an Absolute growing in knowledge and love toward the individual self, the individual self advancing toward the Absolute through community and consensual experience--that involve ignoring the Cartesian divide and moving on. But, as I said, his answers are tentative, because Kolakowski is the kind of philosopher I like. It is no accident that Metaphysical Horror ends not with a statement, but with a question.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    Monday morning sitting in a cafe on Market Street, I finished Leszek Kolakowski’s Metaphysical Horror – the last book I read in 2007. What a perfect finale! This deceptively slim volume is a minimal masterpiece, a miniature of philosophical thinking on the epic scale. To say that Kolakowski wears his erudition “lightly” reduces to a cliché the quality I found most engaging in this book – his spry sense of comedy, his genuine modesty and resignation about the intractable subject of his book: “of t Monday morning sitting in a cafe on Market Street, I finished Leszek Kolakowski’s Metaphysical Horror – the last book I read in 2007. What a perfect finale! This deceptively slim volume is a minimal masterpiece, a miniature of philosophical thinking on the epic scale. To say that Kolakowski wears his erudition “lightly” reduces to a cliché the quality I found most engaging in this book – his spry sense of comedy, his genuine modesty and resignation about the intractable subject of his book: “of the questions which have sustained European philosophy for two and a half millennia, not a single one has been answered to general satisfaction.” He isn’t joking. Yet the book never loses its air of a jeu d’esprit entertaining ultimate truths. I won’t attempt to summarize his argument– because his little book is an amuse-bouche for intellectuals and deserves to be savored on its own terms. I found it compulsively readable, not least because it engages 2500 years of philosophy in so few pages with so much wisdom. Metaphysical Horror isn’t one of those “very short introductions” to its topic; it’s an exuberant, occasionally profound, example of a rich mind in the act of thinking. Readers won’t so much absorb a set of conclusions as participate in the excitement of the chase, trailing Kolakowski through one bristling labyrinth after another.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Szplug

    It's difficult to improve upon Jim Coughenour's 2007 review, which perfectly captures the élan and compressed brilliance of the impishly wise Pole throughout this wafer-thin metaphysical dance across two-and-a-half millennia of human existence, a mental performance of cognitive leaps and intuitive bounds in pursuit of an Ego or Absolute which, when finally pinned down, does not dissipate or collapse into a null singularity, a quest ofttimes conducted in defiance of rational protests or empirical It's difficult to improve upon Jim Coughenour's 2007 review, which perfectly captures the élan and compressed brilliance of the impishly wise Pole throughout this wafer-thin metaphysical dance across two-and-a-half millennia of human existence, a mental performance of cognitive leaps and intuitive bounds in pursuit of an Ego or Absolute which, when finally pinned down, does not dissipate or collapse into a null singularity, a quest ofttimes conducted in defiance of rational protests or empirical resistance and against unyielding linguistic limitations. Kołakowski probes the variety of incongruent arguments advanced by various thinkers from a chain of cultures differing in time and place that have, through their combined lack of achieving any conclusive settlement of the philosophical problems, endowed humanity with a Metaphysical Horror - an existential malaise that has plagued it with growing severity since the dawn of the Enlightenment. In effect, the learned author proposes that metaphysics suffers from a form of Gödel's incompleteness theorem - no contained system can determine perfect verities or knowledge without hobbling itself through self-reference or self-contradiction; without possession of a pure language that predated existence/creation, humanity cannot escape from this epistemological limitation. Does this stop Kołakowski? Hell no! The dance is what matters, not which partner you wind up with and the prize that you claim. With his beautiful mind leading the way, suggestions and alternatives are proffered that weave together the currently estranged threads of knowledge and myth - the former bearded with rationality , the latter aligned with religion - into an ontology that might tend towards quietening the Horror into a bearable pang. I have to say, this didactic guided tour by the genial magister comes as a bracing tonic fresh upon the heels of a bleak nihilistic spirit bombing by Thomas Ligotti. His own interpretation of the religio-mythical strains inherent in humanity strike a chord I am very sympathetic to, and drawn towards. What I wouldn't give to be able to spend a single night talking to, learning from, and drinking with this perspicacious paradigm of a Polish polymath! The prose is pitch-perfect throughout, the erudition effortless; and each avenue of investigation segues into the next with alacritous ease, less concerned with the ultimate answers to the questions it raises and examines than with how the questions themselves are such a necessary and ineradicable component of our very humanity. I cannot think of a recent tome comprising a mere one hundred-plus pages - and of the same approximate size as a calculator - that proved as pure a delight to read and roiled the sedimentary layers of the mind with such pleasant vigor.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I had a bit of a hard time comprehending this abstruse little volume. It abandons Kolakowski's humorous writing style in favor of a dense parsing of, basically, the entire history of Western thought on the Absolute, with smatterings of Buddhist/Hindu thought thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed his constant teasing out of every angle with persistent questions -- "But why? Why is it so?" -- about the simplest assumptions we humans make. I gather, from the sly ending, that Kolakowski definitely b I had a bit of a hard time comprehending this abstruse little volume. It abandons Kolakowski's humorous writing style in favor of a dense parsing of, basically, the entire history of Western thought on the Absolute, with smatterings of Buddhist/Hindu thought thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed his constant teasing out of every angle with persistent questions -- "But why? Why is it so?" -- about the simplest assumptions we humans make. I gather, from the sly ending, that Kolakowski definitely believes in some universal mind behind or in or through our mind that endows life with meaning. It's not exactly a ringing endorsement for God/the Absolute, but it's possibly better than the alternative -- that we're all meaningless automatons spinning into more meaninglessness.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I'm not so sure why, but this is one of the books I come back to the most. It's very light and the problems are addressed in a very concise manner, yet it is quite thought provoking. Philosophy... is a mess. If you haven't yet come to grips with this fact, maybe give this book a try.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Quite an interesting book for being so compact. It works on two levels. The first is more or less a history of philosophy. Takes the major trends of metaphysics and in a nutshell shows how every polar position lacks something which can only be found in its opposite. Most of the book is a history lesson in failure for the West to answer its own fundamental questions over thousands of years. The second aspect of the book, although scored lightly, is the author's insistence that this failure is not Quite an interesting book for being so compact. It works on two levels. The first is more or less a history of philosophy. Takes the major trends of metaphysics and in a nutshell shows how every polar position lacks something which can only be found in its opposite. Most of the book is a history lesson in failure for the West to answer its own fundamental questions over thousands of years. The second aspect of the book, although scored lightly, is the author's insistence that this failure is not itself important. My own interpretation of the thesis is like the search for true love. If you look for it, and fail to find it, it doesn't mean that nothing has been gained. It's almost ironic that Kolakowski should have titled/translated the book "Metaphysical Horror" as it's far more uplifting than a lot of recent philosophy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maïtẻ Miller

    This book is a good read. It's personally one of my favorites. It points out the problem of philosophical language and it's way of breaking down its own philosophical concepts by pushing them to their limit. Also what the importance of these concepts are if they keep failing. It's quite wonderful. Anyone studying philosophy of religion should give this a look.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maurizio Manco

    "L’uso stesso del linguaggio non è innocente: ogni enunciato che noi pronunciamo presuppone l’intera storia della cultura di cui il linguaggio che noi usiamo è un aspetto. Nessuna parola è auto-trasparente. Nessuno può fingere di consegnare all’ascoltatore il mondo incontaminato a cui pensa di riferirsi. Qualunque realtà la parola comunichi, è una realtà filtrata attraverso gli spessi sedimenti della storia umana che noi portiamo nella nostra mente, anche se non nella nostra memoria cosciente." "L’uso stesso del linguaggio non è innocente: ogni enunciato che noi pronunciamo presuppone l’intera storia della cultura di cui il linguaggio che noi usiamo è un aspetto. Nessuna parola è auto-trasparente. Nessuno può fingere di consegnare all’ascoltatore il mondo incontaminato a cui pensa di riferirsi. Qualunque realtà la parola comunichi, è una realtà filtrata attraverso gli spessi sedimenti della storia umana che noi portiamo nella nostra mente, anche se non nella nostra memoria cosciente." (p. 58)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    A slim little book that contains all the metaphysics I'll ever be able to grasp, and a good deal more that will remain beyond me. Kolakowski must have been a wonderful teacher--he writes so clearly and engagingly, with a combination of incisive logic and self-effacing modesty. Only a few times did I have to look up words--illapse; aseity--but when I did they turned out to be the perfect choices. He summarizes the meaning of the title: "...the horror metaphysicus, as we have seen, has two poles: A slim little book that contains all the metaphysics I'll ever be able to grasp, and a good deal more that will remain beyond me. Kolakowski must have been a wonderful teacher--he writes so clearly and engagingly, with a combination of incisive logic and self-effacing modesty. Only a few times did I have to look up words--illapse; aseity--but when I did they turned out to be the perfect choices. He summarizes the meaning of the title: "...the horror metaphysicus, as we have seen, has two poles: the Absolute and the self, or the Cogito. Both are supposed to be bastions that shelter the meaning of the idea of existence. The former, once we try to reduce it to its perfect form, uncontaminated by contact with any less sublime reality, turns out to fade away into nothingness. The latter, on closer inspection, seems to suffer the same fate." The author talks around this problem, which has plagued us since the Enlightenment, with apt and clear reference to philosophers I can never hope to read or understand. He discusses at length the difficulty of putting any important philosophical concepts into language: we are trapped by our inability to say anything about "meaning" without being reduced to self-contradiction. He is amusing, for example, about theologians' insistence on reducing mythological language to more analytical language: "The standard comment of theologians is that the language of Scripture is 'anthropomorphic' because it has been adjusted to the meagre capacity of our minds, which are unable to grasp the hidden metaphysical message. This would be more persuasive if they--the theologians, or at least some of them--did not also claim to have a dictionary with the aid of which the divine Word, as it stands, can be translated into the proper, exact idiom of their science...Myths are not 'really' theories. They are not translatable into some non-mythical language that is supposedly better at conveying their genuine content to us. The belief that we can clarify this content or make it intelligible by a translation of this kind is no less deluded than the belief that we can explain the meaning of a musical work to someone by describing 'what it is about.'" The author is not under the illusion that metaphysical questions will ever be answered to everyone's satisfaction; but he is not pessimistic either. He ends the book gently teasing those who despair at the meaningless of the universe: "Is it not reasonable to suspect that if existence were pointless and the universe void of meaning, we would never have achieved not only the ability to imagine otherwise, but even the ability to entertain this very thought--to wit, that existence is pointless and the universe devoid of meaning?"

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    overall a good assessment of Western Philosophy's shortcomings and the value it has despite this. his reasoning is a bit spurious at some points - (may expand on this further if I return to this volume) - presenting certain things as axiomatic that I don't believe are necessarily true but he displays a remarkable level of erudition in such a short, breezy book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Francis Kim

    good

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jelisaveta

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jurike Joubert

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cooper

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maja

  16. 4 out of 5

    Phil R.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Paradela

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris Ha

  19. 5 out of 5

    Will Smith

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  21. 4 out of 5

    Darek Urbańczyk

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janas

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Pool

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dick

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Ditmore

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andy Duncan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Revenga

  28. 4 out of 5

    Balázs Gimes

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate545

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bill Brantley

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In order to read or download eBook, you need to create FREE account.
eBook available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle versions



Loading...