Joseph P. LawrenceSocrates Among Strangers. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2015, xv + 214.In his poem “Frühling der Seele,” Georg Trakl writes of a humanity whose own discordant and incongruous yearnings burden it with the severest of bequests. There Trakl writes: “the soul is a stranger upon the earth.”1 With this enigmatic utterance Trakl gives voice to a truth that is less a pronouncement about some final human identity than it is a call or summons to rethink the very project of what it means to be human. It is in our strangeness, Trakl seems to say, that we begin our circuitous journey upon the earth. Strangeness in this sense should not be understood as a momentary reaction to an unsettling or disaffecting condition that suddenly comes upon us; rather, it comes to us as an irremediable endowment that marks our every venture in factical life. It is precisely this element of strangeness that, as Martin Heidegger has put it, “shows the soul the path of its essential being.”2 What this strangeness denotes, and how such strangeness comes to shape the very standing of the human being in the world, constitutes one of the oldest questions that besets philosophical thinking.
Research in Phenomenology – Brill
Published: Sep 6, 2017