Tuesday, 9 February 2010

BHL and Kant

It would appear that Bernard-Henri Levy has been caught out in a very silly error since he has, in print, launched an attack on Kant by means of use of a fictional philosopher who he assumed was real. The full story is in today's copy of The Times and thanks to one of my students for sharing this with me on Twitter today. Levy seems to have believed that there exists a philosopher by the name of Jean-Baptiste Botuli founder of the school known as "Botulism" (what else?). Botuli is the fictive author of a book with the somewhat lovely title The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant though the page on him on Wikipedia states that he is a fake

There are clear comical sides to this whole episode, not least the idea of Levy thinking, even with impeccable sources, that he could seriously venture a view on Kant. However the real problem with the whole thing is that it simply reinforces the usual patronising attitude of Anglo-Americans to the French as can be seen in the comments on this business over at Nigel Warburton's blog and at Leiter Reports. It does, though, perhaps present some good reasons for thinking that if you are going to respond to a major philosopher like Kant that it might be a good idea to do so on the basis of their work rather than secondary texts with ludicrous titles.

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