A fascinating interview on Cabinet with Catalin Avramescu, a philosopher based in Bucharest who’s written a book on cannibalism – An Intellectual History of Cannibalism.
Modern philosophy co-exists with the specialized sciences. These are polished, sophisticated, “civilized,” if you wish. Philosophy has always had a hard time legitimizing itself in this context. As a discipline, it was cannibalized by sociology, logic, aesthetics, physics, economics, anthropology, and political science. For some, it has already melted into literature. For others, it could survive only inasmuch as it is focused on the game of language. My project was to recover—to capture—a tone, a standpoint more “primitive” than that of modern sciences. Philosophy was once the art of asking extreme, dangerous questions. The task of the philosopher is not simply to argue, as much of contemporary academic philosophy would want us to believe, but also to convince, to move, to stir and, eventually, to shake us to the core. This is the point where the cannibal enters the scene. He asks questions about the identity of the individual when the subject is on the verge of dissolution. He explores the possibility of an ethics without morals. He is the operator of anarchy on the background of social order. Philosophers have often entered the city under different guises, as foreigners, travelers, cynics, or unbelievers. The cannibal is just a part of a larger and complex history. He is not pleasant to look at. Yet, he opens for us the possibility of thinking anew about our values. To be on the cutting edge of thinking: that was the uncomfortable trade of the philosopher. That, I imagine, is to be a free spirit. It is to find food for thought where no one is looking. Or where everybody has been turned away.