Example of fiction (October 1st) The Sadness of the Severe Philosophy


Text by Anne-François Schmid

Translated by Ira Monarch


A severe philosophy would no longer use metaphors, because she believed that metaphors and the ornaments of discourse were a bad transformation for philosophy. Philosophy could no longer be a good mirror of reality. It had to become a very clear order of reason.  So she dreamed about a philosophy without artifacts.


But enter a human. He sees and hears the philosophy, but does not understand her.  Her language was one of a stranger or a god, where the levels of discourse were no longer distinguishable. He said to the philosophy: use a language as mime, with metaphors! As painting, as music! Philosophy tried to answer. But her answer was no more just speech, - to say is to do was one of her principles -, but another action, the digging of a cave, along the lines of Plato. The words used in philosophy turn into reflections, and they are separate from the Ideas carried by the words.


Philosophy become very sad, she could not continue to be severe, the reflections have colors! Not only the black, as the Schellingian cows in Hegel’s phenomenology, but luminous flashes of diverse colors, all words have a proper shade of the rainbow. So Plato was ordered: Put out the light!


Without the light, philosophy began to hear strange sounds, her words came to have life of their own! They spoke back to her. They turned into obstacles against which she collided.


This collision decomposed philosophy. She understood, perhaps too late, that the words are only ingredients of language. Metaphors do no irreparable damage at all.  Was there still time for her to extend her principles from an autonomy of severity to the complexity and stubbornness of the empirical. We are always waiting for the human philosopher who would be willing to gather the sparks of this severe philosophy to honor Plato’s cave.



Thanks to Péguy (“qu’on me parle d’une philosophie sévère”), to Plato, to Austin, to Hegel, to Spinoza



Charles Péguy, Note sur M. Bergson et la philosophie bergsonienne, Cahiers de la Quinzaine, avril 1914, pp. 82–83.



Exteriority point: human

Invention: the different forms and mutation of philosophical language (words into colors and sounds)

Fiction: digging a cave, decomposition of a philosophy to exteriorizing and enriching her ingredients, relationships with generic space for philosophy (so the thanks are part of the fiction)