Saturday, February 16, 2013

Giving the Text the Benefit of the Doubt

When speaking about how one ought to approach reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Dan Robinson points out the scholarly approach to reading literature by giving the text the benefit of the doubt before leveling the charge of contradiction.

“Kant did not go through two editions of perhaps the greatest metaphysical treatise ever composed while proving how wonderful he was at missing the point and contradicting himself. So what I’m going to presuppose in the lectures is where the text is problematical, there’s a stylistic problem, a translation problem, and to some extent, perhaps, a problem with comprehension. You want to begin with the assumption that if you don’t get what Kant said, it could be that you’re not getting it . . .” (Dan Robinson. Philosophy Lecturer at Oxford University).

This is the way that all literature should be read. Unfortunately, many today read Kant and a host of other literature skeptically and looking for contradictions. It is no wonder that the Bible suffers the same fate in the hands of such ungenerous skeptics.

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