Philosophy begins in the middle of ordinary experience. Consider these four aspects of daily life: we have conversations which require us to strive to make ourselves understood and to understand others; we easily pick out nameable items in the world and also sense how the things around us hang together; we count things and do simple arithmetic, and are sure we know what we’re doing; we give reasons for knowing the things we claim to know. Philosophy gets off the ground when we ask how it is possible that we are already doing these things.
Wakefulness and World takes up this question by reading works by Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel. The invitation is two-fold: to accompany the author in reading some philosophical texts and to think together about the manifest and puzzling intelligibility of the world.
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“The subject of this slim and lucid volume is the wondrous intelligibility of experience as it comes to light through philosophical attentiveness to the richly articulated whole of the world. Linck models wakefulness as he moves from the tentative hypotheses of Plato’s Socrates, to Aristotle’s elucidation of the determinateness of natural and artificial beings, to Kant’s and Hegel’s astonishing explorations of the ways the world’s intelligibility arises from within the mind itself. A deeply intelligent and subtle book by a master reader and teacher, Wakefulness and World will engage and inform educated amateurs and accomplished scholars alike.”―Jacob Howland, author of The Republic: The Odyssey of Philosophy and Glaucon's Fate
“This project is an introduction to philosophy in the way that having a discussion with the finest teachers of philosophy is rumored to have been: Wittgenstein puzzling out utterances; Aristotle on peripatetic garden walks; and Socrates, whose every illustration proved both familiar and unsettling. Like Socrates, Linck speaks directly to beginners as well as practiced scholars about our endeavors to understand, from the images that lure us into reflection, to the confrontation between intelligible generalization and everyday experience. Linck’s book brings us into conversation with Plato’s Socrates, with Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and with Newton. Through these encounters, he guides the reader to a profound reckoning with the conditions that allow careful, critical inquiry to flourish.”―Katie Terezakis, Professor of Philosophy, Rochester Institute of Technology
“An invitation to philosophy in the strongest sense. Through a patient and elegant discussion of some key moments in classic texts from Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Hegel, Linck invites his readers to wake up to the strangeness and miraculousness which is the making intelligible of the world in thought.”―Louis Colombo, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Bethune-Cookman University
“Wakefulness and World invites readers into a brief history of Western Philosophy through close readings of Plato, Aristotle, and Kant. More importantly, through a series of imagination exercises, it urges us to reconsider seemingly ordinary acts: what it means to see, to speak, and to count, reigniting early childhood experiences of astonishment at the very fact of being in the world. Each chapter provides foundational lessons in how to read (another person, a text, a statement, a scene, a concept, a swarm). Rather than outline a familiar philosophical trajectory from the sensible to the intelligible, Linck stages their entanglement and shows the urgency of returning to topics (and figures) that deepen through renewed contact. If philosophy is a never-ending project of awakening, Wakefulness and World leaves one feeling newly alert to the ongoing project of philosophizing, as well as freshly alive to ‘the astonishing space of intelligible luminosity that we call the world.’”—Megan Craig, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Art, Stony Brook University
Read an interview that the author gave to St. John's College.
Matthew Linck is a member of the senior faculty at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, where he has taught since 2008.