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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Stylish Address...Before the Knives Come Out

Thanks to Marty, Pam, Paul, and Matt for references to some canonical critiques of canonical works.  Poor Herbert Wechsler came in for some wonderful critiques.

Since it's been on my mind, here's one of the smoothest moments of initial address by the critic to the master.  From James Fitzjames Stephen's extended critique of Mill's On Liberty -- "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" (54) -- which is a pleasure to read, even if in the end one sides with Mill (as most people do): 

Nothing is further from my wishes than to make a captious attack upon the writings of a great man to whom I am in every way indebted; but in stating the grounds of one’s dissent from wide-spread and influential opinions, it is absolutely necessary to take some definite statement of those opinions as a starting point, and it is natural to take the ablest, the most reasonable, and the clearest.

Posted by Marc DeGirolami on October 17, 2012 at 07:56 PM | Permalink

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