in the past day or so quite a few bloggers have been throwing out their own candidates for who the most ‘overrated’ philosopher is. i had no intention to get involved in the debate, but just saw this posted on graham’s blog:
Most overrated of all time: someone I like to read but can’t seem to use… Kierkegaard.
now, this quote doesn’t come from graham himself but rather from someone he knows ‘fairly well’. that said, i find the idea that Kierkegaard is the most overrated philosopher of all time absolutely absurd. if anything, he has to be near the top of the list for the most underrated philosopher! has someone who works on Kierkegaard, it’s shocking how many people working in philosophy have never really given his work much attention, and it seems if anything most people’s experience with Kierkegaard involves reading Fear and Trembling and maybe Repetition in an undergrad course on existentialism. if the person who sent this to graham “can’t seem to use” Kierkegaard, this is likely their own fault.
along with this, i’m pretty shocked at how many times Sartre’s name has come up in these discussions as well. maybe he was overrated in the 60′s or something, but he’s also one of those figures who seem to be more and more relegated to undergraduate ‘introduction to existentialism’ type courses. and it is also telling that his most serious philosophical work, Critique of Dialectical Reason vols. 1 and 2 is only now starting to get some bits of attention in the english speaking world.
and just to perpetuate the debate, i think Nietzsche, Foucault, and Derrida are three of the most overrated philosophers, at least in the recent continental tradition.