By Frank Breslin

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Émile Friant — “La Discussion Politique” — (1889)

In 1972, I was asked to give an appreciative talk on modern philosophy at our high school’s Arts and Humanities Festival. It was an evening program for interested students, parents, staff, and community members. What follows is that presentation, which, as will be apparent, is a young man’s take on modern thought and represents his best efforts at conveying, in a spirit of empathy, what he felt modern philosophy is about.

One derives little comfort from modern philosophy. Anyone wanting from its pages a certainty, a reassurance, an answer will go away hungry. But were one to reseat oneself at…


By Frank Breslin

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Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski, “The Lone Wolf”, ca 1900.

If a work of art could commit a sin, it would be that of leaving those who encounter it indifferent. And perhaps the royal road to indifference is the possession of answers, answers cut-and-dried, prefabricated answers that spare someone the necessity of knowing even the questions. For to have an answer is to possess certainty, and to possess certainty is to cease growing, and to cease growing is to cease existing.

If art could be said to engage in a love affair, it would be a love affair with questions. And a question must be loved before it will surrender…

Frank Breslin

Frank Breslin is a retired high-school teacher in the New Jersey public school system, where he taught English, Latin, German, and history.

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