'Some Old Names for a New Way of Thinking: Santayana's Style'

2017-04-28T13:50:56Z (GMT) by Paul Jenner
Richard Rorty once suggested that, following a rigorous process of auto-critique, analytical philosophy attained coherence at a stylistic level, rather than being co-terminus with philosophy as such. Rorty’s subsequent reassurance that this was no bad thing, since the analytical style was, after all, a good style, seems less than reassuring, in part because of the philosophical resistance to style. Stanley Cavell—a philosopher certainly possessed of a distinctive style—has drawn attention to the tension, within philosophy, between the stylisation of and responsiveness to experience. Taking Rorty’s and Cavell’s reflections as a starting point, this paper considers the status of George Santayana’s philosophy in relation to overlapping questions concerning style: prose style within philosophy, styles of philosophy, and philosophy as a style. Santayana’s poetic materialism and modest meta-philosophical premises make style central to his work in ways that anticipate the questions raised by Rorty and Cavell.