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Oscar Wilde pp 175-216 | Cite as

The Philosopher

  • Kimberly J. Stern
Chapter
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)

Abstract

In An Ideal Husband, Lord Goring remarks: “It is love, and not German philosophy, that is the true explanation of this world, whatever may be the explanation of the next” (Wilde. An Ideal Husband. In The Major Works. Ed. Isobel Murray, 389–476. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.). If this might seem to reflect an ambivalence toward formal philosophy, Wilde was an avid consumer of it over the course of his life. This chapter tracks Wilde’s engagements with philosophy, ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Continental influences like Georg Friedrich Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer. In contrast to existing studies, this chapter does not attempt to synthesize Wilde’s works into a coherent “philosophy” of art or society, preferring instead to illuminate how he engaged—diversely and sometimes inconsistently—with the thinkers that inspired him. Rather than aligning Wilde clearly with any specific school of thought, this account proposes that Wilde was a skeptical reader of philosophy, which he treated less as a means of advancing toward truth than as a medium (albeit imperfect) for reflecting upon the process of truth-seeking.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly J. Stern
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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