Daily Archives: February 27, 2010

ndpr review of moral fool

Stephen had kindly placed his reference to a recent and extremely negative review of the Moral Fool only at the end of the no longer much frequented discussion of this book in this forum. I had requested the publishers of the review, the editors of the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, to be granted the right to a reply. This request was denied. I might thus as well say a few words here.

It is not really worth the effort to respond in detail to the many often incorrect and contradictory claims of the reviewer. In general, he accuses me of not having written a book in the only genre that he seems to deem academically appropriate, namely an exegetical study on the secondary literature in one’s field. Of course, as will be most obvious to any reader, I intentionally did not make such an attempt in the Moral Fool, but rather tried to develop a perspective of “negative ethics” derived from various philosophical sources, including Chinese ones and to relate them to some current social issues and viewpoints.

Some colleagues and friends have asked me if I knew why the reviewer had been so extraordinarily hostile. I did not know this, since I had never heard his name before. However, I subsequently became aware of some “dots” which perhaps are entirely disconnected: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews often commissions its contributions directly through requests of their editors. P.J. Ivanhoe is an editor of this journal. In the review, I am accused of not citing major authorities on Chinese Philosophy, among which the reviewer lists P.J. Ivanhoe. The reviewer, in the acknowledgments in his book on W. James, thanks P.J. Ivanhoe. I co-published a critical review of Prof. Ivanhoe’s religious interpretation of the Zhuangzi some years ago in Philosophy East and West.