Jerry Fresia asks what my views are on the intersection of art and philosophy or politics. I do not have worked out views on this general question, but I do have an autobiographical answer, if that is of any interest. I have written about this in my Memoir, but I will briefly reprise those thoughts here.
Although I spent my professional life as a scholar, presumably engaged in making "contributions to knowledge," as the common phrase has it, I have never really thought of my work in that fashion. Perhaps that is why I so rarely put footnotes in what I write, and do not "keep up with the literature," even on subjects on which I am thought to be an expert. Philosophy for me has always been essentially an aesthetic undertaking. Over and over again, I have engaged with profound and difficult books or ideas, and then have struggled to make them so transparently clear that their beauty shines forth. My writing, as I imagine it, is a gift to my readers, allowing them to see the simplicity of the ideas that I have succeeded in wresting from their obscure and often confusing settings. That is what I thought of myself as doing when I searched for, and believed I found, the central argument of the Transcendental Analytic of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. That is also what I sought to do in my books on Marx's Capital.
When I am struggling to clarify the core idea of a text or a subject, I cannot write until I have told the story of the idea to myself, in my head, as clearly as though I were telling a fairy tale to a child. Then the words flow easily, as quickly as my stubby and inaccurate forefingers can get them down. When I have told the story, be it the immortal story of Kant or Marx or the flawed story of John Rawls, I present it to the world -- I publish.
It never occurs to me to show what I have written to another scholar before publishing. What would be the point? If the story is perfectly clear, it is an aesthetic whole, and to tinker with it, add caveats or footnotes or addenda, would be like editing Jack and the Beanstalk or Snow White. I sometimes think how odd it would have been for Matisse to show a painting to Picasso for "criticism" before exhibiting it to the world. "I think a little more red here in the upper right corner, Henri, and maybe just a tad more blue around the edges. You really ought to check with Braque. He is doing some nice things with that yellow you have used."
This explains the odd fact that although it is terribly important to me to be known, to have what I write be read, I never much care about reviews or critiques, The little book that made me a household word in unlikely places like Croatia and Malaysia, In Defense of Anarchism, was universally panned when it appeared, a fact that did not trouble me at all.
One might ask, as Plato has Callicles ask Socrates in the Gorgias, whether this is a way for a mature adult to spend his or her life. To which perhaps the only answer is to recall the story that Kierkegaard deploys so powerfully in the Preface to the Philosophical Fragments:
"Consider the example of Archimedes, who sat unperturbed in the contemplation of his circles while Syracuse was being taken, and the beautiful words he spoke to the Roman soldier who slew him: nolite perturbare circulos meos."