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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thinker of Death Dies

posted by on January 25 at 16:29 PM

The last existentialist in America is dead. Professor Robert Solomon, who taught at the University of Texas and recently published a book about death, Dark Feelings, Grim Thoughts, died two weeks ago at the Zurich airport.

[He was] on the way to catch a plane to Rome. [He] said he felt dizzy and collapsed. Though Solomon received first-aid, he died shortly afterward. [He] suffered from a congenital heart disorder that contributed to his death.

Robert Solomon’s end was met on the 64th year of his life. With his last breath went the last major American advocate of a doctrine that was brought to life in France after World War Two by Sartre. Solomon in fact abhorred popular French post-structuralists like Foucault and Deleuze because of the raw way they rejected the father of existentialism. With the exception of Fredric Jameson, Sartre’s work and ideas have had no postmodern supporters. Though Solomon was right to complain that postmodern thinkers had done Sartre wrong, existentialism as a doctrine was by the 80s as dead as Descarte’s doctrine on the mind/body split. Solomon lived and died in the wrong age. His passions would have corresponded with the times if he had been born in 1902. Still, he was a good philosopher in a world that produces too many bad ones.

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And a writer of some clarity, too, which is not all that common in the philosophical set. Had his translations of Nietzsche appeared around the turn of the century, we could have been spared 50 years of misinterpretation.

Posted by MvB | January 25, 2007 5:33 PM

he was also a very excellent teacher and a very charismatic speaker.

Posted by Tia | January 26, 2007 8:16 AM

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