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By Roger Scruton

Immanuel Kant is arguably the main influential smooth thinker, yet can also be probably the most tricky.

In this illuminating Very brief creation, Roger Scruton--a famous and arguable thinker in his personal right--tackles his awfully complicated topic with a robust hand, exploring the historical past to Kant's paintings and displaying why Critique of natural cause has proved so enduring.

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Sample text

In many ways the French Revolution and the beliefs that it stood for were a consequence of the ideas laid down by the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, in the views of many, was the start of modernity. Modernity, in very general terms, is a belief in the power of progress through the application of reason through science and technology. Postmodernism, with its suspicion of a grand narrative of progress, has done much in the last thirty years to question modernism and the basis of the project of the Enlightenment.

Good medical practice is essentially dialogical. For Gadamer, general practice is as much concerned with the ‘talking cure’ as more obviously language-based therapies like psychoanalysis, as he argues, in ‘Hermeneutics and Psychiatry’ (Gadamer, 1996). Part of Gadamer’s purpose is to illustrate how echoes and traces of words are still – albeit in sedimented form – active and operative in the language of the present. Listening to the reverberations of more authentic meanings, a difficult but not impossible task even in our scientific age, enriches the level of reflection and understanding, making one more mindful of what has been forgotten in a culture’s state of collective amnesia.

What is common to both? The answer one could offer here points to their joint appeal to the liberation of language from rigid and solidified meanings, and this is nowhere more evident than in the permanent play of language. For Derrida, the text is always open to a multiple play of meanings, due to the operation of the language in which différance plagues the sign. And the sign, both in spoken discourse and in the written word, does not work as a sign without referring to another element which is not present.

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