Who are the greatest philosophical stylists?
If we take the mark of a great philosophical or theological stylist to be the capacity to say as much in the form of communication as in its substance, or to fully integrate form and substance in philosophical presentation, who are history’s greatest philosophical stylists? The top ten, if I were to pick a list off the top of my head, would be (in chronological order):
Though I can see right away that this list is weighted towards ‘dialectical’ thinkers of one stripe or another, possibly because that’s an easier philosophical difference than some to convey formally. Or possibly because I just prefer them. Eckhart, though certainly a master stylist, might be a slightly arbitrary pick from among the late medieval mystics. Is he really a step above Marguerite Porete, Teresa of Avila, or John of the Cross?
It’s hard to come up with any truly great recent stylists. Derrida is good, but wouldn’t rank, I don’t think, with the figures above. I’ve wondered about Hélène Cixous, just because of the unbelievable range of genres with which she is apparently competent, but I’ve not actually read her work.
I’m distinguishing in my head between philosophical stylists as defined above and rhetorically effective philosophers, or philosophers who are especially enjoyable to read. Feel free to contest my definition.