A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, values, understanding, moralizing, intelligence, thinking, modernity, and feelings

I subscribe to Hellenic existential values, which is to say, nothing is truly "understood" in any penetrating or rational way until it has been traced back to its implications for ultimate values. Moralizing in the most profound and synoptic way should be the primary challenge for modern philosophers, a way of recovering the kind of articulated value-intelligence that ancient culture exercised. For most moderns there are no such things as foundational values or principles; there are only feelings, vagrant or idiosyncratic emotionalisms. To "think" in a merely abstract or conceptualizing way, free of the tasks of connoisseurial and spiritual evaluation, is in truth already a form of delusionality just in itself: it is the error that Kant describes of a bird realizing how much resistance the wind causes for it, and imagining that if only it were in empty space it could fly ever so much better. Hegel's understanding of the task of philosophy "in medias res"--having to come to see and understand not in a hypothetical vacuum or laboratory conditions in vitro but amidst the turbulence and conflicts of actual historical existence--is the only ultimately sane, rational, and humanly responsible method.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave