The Feeling of Thinking: Reading Theory

Series of stories and performative talk (ongoing project)

How does it feel to read philosophy? Must we be silent in order to understand Hegel? Can we return to the reason of the Greeks by reading Hannah Arendt ? Does Kant help to bring the fluent phenomena to a standstill?

In this project I investigate in reading philosophy, both as momentary experience as well as a persistent practice. I tell stories about how reading feels, how it is enjoyed and endured, and how it determines the lives of the readers. These stories are based on a series of 50 interviews with dedicated readers of philosophy (both professionals and amateurs) on their personal experience.

Read some stories and watch some accompanying animations in the Performance Philosophy Journal.

Listen to some stories:

EXCERPT FROM: KEIRA READS DONALD DAVIDSON

Keira wants to understand Davidson. She is willing to concede his argument if necessary. Yet she will not submit to Davidson by any means. It is important not to submit. Even if Davidson is smarter. Especially if Davidson is smarter. Nothing is decided yet.

What would it take for Keira to win? Victory would be hers if she could understand Davidson’s text completely while at the same time being smarter than him in one aspect. If she could see Davidson’s line of argument clearly, and at the same time could say why one particular point of it does not work. Then she would have won.

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Excerpt from: Verena reads Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt makes Verena perceive something new: while her sentences guide Verena through one piece of the world, Hannah Arendt at the same time brings order into the monstrosity of this piece, thereby mitigating it. So that the world does not strike Verena in all its vehemence and Verena faces something more rational than the world as such, something that can be made sense of. And, moreover, something that allows for more hope.

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Excerpt from: Ina read Derrida

Derrida’s texts start harmlessly enough. But then they suddenly accelerate. When they get moving, they want with all their might for Ina to think differently than she normally does. They insist that Ina keep all their axioms and claims active in her mind and that she take them as the foundation for the next sentence. Derrida’s texts want Ina to adopt and maintain their special level of tension. They want to induce a certain twist into Ina’s thoughts. All of Derrida’s admonitory sentences in the first place admonish Ina not to sink back into her usual, tension-free way of thinking.

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