Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kant we all just get along?

My second date with Leibnizian destiny has come and gone: the panel of the Philosophy of Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion. (My talk: "Posthumous Sins: Lessing and the Legacies of Leibniz.")This was this group's first panel devoted to our Universalgenie and I suspect it will be the last. Not because the papers weren't good (though I dare say mine was the only one written for the occasion and to the question of the panel), but it's just not a group which gets the interest of the history of philosophy. The discussion, like the other papers, was about already canonical philosophers: Spinoza, Kant, Schleiermacher. Silly me, trying to historicize the way we subordinate Leibniz to these other thinkers' agendas! (I heard discussion more germane to the sorts of ideas I was hoping to provoke in the Popular Culture and Religion Group's session on medieval religion before the printing press!)

In a strange way, I felt protective for Leibniz, and even proprietary - strange because, of course, I have not occupied myself with Leibniz at all these several years. Do I need to find a way to write up what these two reunions with the old flame have produced - a sense (and argument!) that Leibniz is someone from whose intellectual practice we can learn? My Leibniz was a situated, engaged thinker whose Theodicy was intended to support lived religion, and who never published his own system because maintaining the larger, open-ended conversation was more important to him? Even if I were right about that (I'm not sure I am) would anyone care? It's been fun, though, reliving the old thrill...

No comments: