In Praise of Bad Writing
There's a nice thread about good philosophical writing at Brian Leiter's blog--don't miss it. But may I put in a brief plug for bad philosophical writing? By that, I mean very hard-going stuff like Kant, Hegel, or even (dare I say?) the usually-too-dense Derek Parfit. I actually think one benefits a lot from the hard work it takes to figure out what's going on in a complex, impenetrable text. The person who can figure out what the hell Hegel was saying is likely to develop the habit of working hard to understand what everyone's saying. Reading hard philosophy makes you a better, harder-working listener, more charitable, and more perceptive about what others are thinking. Which means--no, not that writing impenetrably is OK, but that it's a bad idea to completely eliminate the hardest stuff from syllabi and reading lists. Make 'em suffer, it's good for them!
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