Friday, October 3, 2008

Philosophy Colloquium

Dr. Raymond Boisvert

“The Will to Power vs. The Will to Prayer:
William Barrett’s The Illusion of Technique 30 Years Later”

Wednesday October 22
3:35pm, Bernadine Room, Library

Abstract: In 1979, Richard Rorty celebrated Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Dewey as the greatest 20th century philosophers. One year earlier, William Barrett, had celebrated his own triad. Wittgenstein and Heidegger were common choices. For Barrett, though, William James deserved the third place of prominence. Barrett believed the best in 20th century thought emerged from an amalgam of Heidegger and James. Both looked askance at “the “illusion of technique,” the Modern dream of a single method that would apply in all areas of human concern. Such hegemony encourages thinking in terms of a “Will to Power,” seeing things as manipulanda, that which awaits reshaping by humans. Barrett contrasts this with the “will to prayer,” an attitude which, inspired by Platonic eros, seeks, not control, but active engagement leading to personal transformation. In the end, where Rorty could summarize his position with the three terms “contingency, irony, solidarity,” Barrett’s alternative could be phrased as “eros, irony, prayer.”

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