Standing in front of my bookshelves today I randomly picked out a book from the philosophy section called “The Thinking Self”, by Jay Rosenberg. Rosenberg, student of the late great US philosopher Wilfrid Sellars and author of one of the best introductions into the craft of philosophizing (german version), was a Humboldt scholar and guest lecturer at the University of Heidelberg during the one year I’ve studied there. At that time he was working on that very book, “The Thinking Self”. He courageously and generously distributed the manuscript pages to teachers and students alike, and I spent many days trying to understand his Husserlian and Kantian constructions, not quite succeeding but learning a lot along the way.
After leafing through the pages of “The Thinking Self” today, I googled Jay for an update on his whereabouts, just to find out that he’s passed away on February 21st, aged 65. For commemoration, let me point you to a book many consider his best. Its title and topic is – “Thinking Clearly About Death”. Like all of Jay’s books, it doesn’t provide for handy quotes. Because, and here I can quote him, “authentic clarity in philosophy […] does not arise from easy accessibility. Authentic clarity comes from penetration. It emerges at the end of inquiry, not at its beginnings, and then only if the problematic which moves the inquiry has been pursued relentlessly through all its obscurities and complexities to the point of laying bare the root posits upon which the whole of an intricate and protracted dialectic ultimately rests.”