Defending Common Sense [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Partisan Review (2000)
The greatest philosopher of the twentieth century may not have been Wittgenstein, or Russell, or Quine (and he certainly wasn’t Heidegger), but he may have been a somewhat obscure and conservative Australian named David Stove (1927-94). If he wasn’t the greatest philosopher of the century, Stove was certainly the funniest and most dazzling defender of common sense to be numbered among the ranks of last century’s thinkers, better even—by far—than G. E. Moore and J. L. Austin. The twentieth century was not a period in which philosophers distinguished themselves as essayists, or even as capable of writing interestingly on any subject outside their speciality (or even within it). Stove, though, was an essayist, polemicist, and wit of the highest order, rather like a super-intelligent H. L. Mencken. A heavyweight admirer was once led to write that “Reading Stove is like watching Fred Astaire dance. You don’t wish you were Fred Astaire, you are just glad to have been around to see him in action.”
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