Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bernard-Henri Lévy, Kant and the Platypus

Don’t get me wrong but I find the embarrassment being heaped on the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy for his part-reliance on a fictional philosopher’s expose of Immanuel Kant’s sex life as a basis to attack the philosophical work of Kant in general as being both ironic and somewhat delicious.

Sephardic, Algerian, corporate millionaire, student activist, bon-vivant, French avant-garde philosopher, sartorial, narcissistic, social commentator, socialite, journalist, movie director (Le Jour et la Nuit – panned by the critics for tacky erotisism mainly invoving his wife Arielle Dombasle, and for hastening the demise of Alan Delon’s career), blogger, etc. etc.

Lévy, or simply BHL as he prefers to be known, is a difficult animal – like the platypus – to fully categorize.

Some of BHL’s work is brilliant, some trite. What is the truth?

In Umberto Eco’s wonderful book, Kant and the Platypus, Eco dissects science’s efforts to fully categorize the truth about the platypus yet concludes by restating Kant’s reasoning that ‘empirical concepts can never fully exhaust all their determinations’.

This is true for all of us.

Kant is a genius.

BHL? Perhaps he really is a new genus of platypus.

Eco put it more succinctly: ‘Kant knew nothing about the platypus, and that should not worry us, but if the platypus is to solve its own identity crisis, it ought to know something about Kant.’

Further Info:,0,3541326.story

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