At Edge of the West commenter Michael complains that poster Dana has not read his remarks carefully before responding. At Perverse Egalitarianism, Frames/Sing, and Larval Subjects the battle over correlationism, ontology, naturalism and so on rage amid pervasive assertions of mutual incomprehension.
See a characteristic new installment at Now Times. Alexei, Mikhail and Shahar bond over the common hijackings of Kant and Husserl, who are so often criticized based on shortcut readings and caricatures of various kinds. Alexei hypothesizes an origin to this problem in the daunting scope of these thinkers:
But precisely because [Kant] covered all the bases he’s really — but really — hard to teach, and we always end up foreshortening lines of argument for our students, and then they get stuck with a really skewed understanding of him.
I’m inclined to agree with Alexei, but notice what happens when we take thinkers who have all the bases covered and require exhaustive, cross-referenced understanding of their entire projects as a condition of adequacy in claims about what they’re saying. In practice this is likely to produce little insular priesthoods attached to this or that master thinker, feverishly defending their prophets’ legacies against the heathen barbarian hordes, carrying their colors into each new battle with the glamour of righteousness upon them.
Another example that may resonate is Lenin’s claim that Marx’s Capital can’t be understood without reading Hegel’s Logic (which presumably itself requires prior reading to be understood). Again this is no doubt strictly true, but it would (and did) tend to cut most members of the working class out of any effective participation in the construction and adaptation of marxism as a theory of their liberation. I’m not saying that’s automatically a bad thing; it’s a dynamic to notice with consequences we may or may not like.
Thinkers who have all the bases covered are wonderful and terrible monsters. They require an enormous investment and don’t leave much space for you to think your own thoughts once you’ve made it. It may be strategically necessary to cut them down to size and stomp them out, by any means necessary, to get on with what you want to do. Of course for those of us who are not recognized master synthesists the stomping thresholds are going to come up that much more quickly with most readers.