The Philosophical Writings of Edgar Saltus: The Philosophy of Disenchantment & the Anatomy of Negation

by Ezra Buckley on August 24, 2018

A lively and talented writer, Saltus tackles topics of philosophy which might otherwise be dry or boring with a sparkling wit. Clarity is given to subjects which would normally turn off readers from even approaching, and it is with an entertaining passion that Saltus tackles a variety of topics concerning pessimism, religion and human life.

The Philosophy of Disenchantment is a retrospective examination of pessimism, with particular emphasis on philosophers such as Arthur Schopenhauer and Eduard Von Hartmann. Saltus presents an overview of the greatest questions pondered by these writers, giving his own frank yet eloquent views on both the queries themselves, and the men who brought them such renown.

By contrast, The Anatomy of Negation looks at writers and philosophers who present antitheism (a belief in no deity) as a tenet of their writings. Of principle concern here is the French author Leconte de Lisle and the ancient Hindu sage Kapila. Tracing the doctrine back to the earliest days of Hinduism, it is here that Saltus presents both the religious outlook on living, and the atheistic outlook, for the reader’s consideration.

Although a somewhat obscure philosopher in the modern day, Saltus remains one of the best introductions to moral pessimism and philosophical questions surrounding religion. Quite popular and much-praised by contemporaries in Europe and the USA in his day, Saltus’ fame would not continue after he perished in 1921. As well as philosophy, he also wrote fiction; two books of his were adapted into silent films in the early 1920s.

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