Breaks through the cultural barriers between Western, Indian, and Chinese philosophy and demonstrates that despite considerable differences between these three great philosophical traditions, there are fundamental resemblances in their abstract principles.
After exploring the theory and practice of politics in ancient China, ancient India, and modern Europe, Scharfstein argues that the justification for deception and force is inseparable from political life and assesses the chances for a better political future.
One of the books submitted for review to this journal was B.?A. Scharfstein's The philosophers: their lives and the nature of their thought (1980, Oxford). Although not explicitly concerned with logic, it raised various questions for history and historiography (possibilities for psycho-history, for example). Thus I sought a review, which was written by P. Loptson and published in volume 3 (1982), 105?107. The ensuing correspondence has been edited for publication by me, with the authors? approval.
The traditional hermeneutic ruling not to use reports and legends for questioning edicts and rules signifies the tacit recognition, contrary to explicit statement, of the part of the Rabbinical leadership, of the inevitability of change in diverse aspects if Jewish life. This may invite criticism of the conduct of the ancient leadership, which, as always, is questionable and useless. Rather, an open discussion should be instituted on the proposal to make future changes openly, not surreptitiously; particularly the change from surreptitious (...) changes to open changes is better done openly. (shrink)
What if Immanuel Kant floated down from his transcendental heights, straight through Alice’s rabbit hole, and into the fabulous world of Lewis Carroll? For Ben-Ami Scharfstein this is a wonderfully instructive scenario and the perfect way to begin this wide-ranging collection of decades of startlingly synthesized thought. Combining a deep knowledge of psychology, cultural anthropology, art history, and the history of religions—not to mention philosophy—he demonstrates again and again the unpredictability of writing and thought and how they can teach us (...) about our experiences. Scharfstein begins with essays on the nature of philosophy itself, moving from an autobiographical account of the trials of being a comparativist to philosophy’s function in the outside world to the fear of death in Kant and Hume. From there he explores an impressive array of art: from China and Japan to India and the West; from an essay on sadistic and masochistic body art to one on the epistemology of the deaf and the blind. He then returns to philosophy, writing on Machiavelli and political ruthlessness, then on the ineffable, and closes with a review of Walter Kaufmann’s multivolume look at the essence of humanity, _Discovering the Mind_. Altogether, these essays are a testament to adventurous thought, the kind that leaps to the furthest reaches of the possible. (shrink)