Philosophy against Misosophy


Murray & Joey Rothbard


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Tony Flood who, at least in regard to jazz guitar, is certainly an unregenerate seeker.

One of my prized possessions is Murray Rothbard’s scathing reply to the scattershot philosophical musings to which I had recently subjected him in a letter (after, I think, having read a half-dozen or so books by Alan Watts). As usual, Murray was incapable of criticizing a friend without making him howl with laughter as well as suggesting he read a few books. To say it is worth more than a million of today's emails, no matter from whom, is to say virtually nothing.

Following the letter’s image is a more legible transcrip-tion. Note the typo: his address’s third line repeats mine where he should have typed (as he did on the envelope) “Stanford, CA 94305,” where he spent many summers. His capitalization of “Seekers” and “Finders,” and identifying me as a “Seeker,” after chiding me for my abuse of capitalization, is also interesting.

My preparation for online publication of Father Toohey’s Notes on Epistemology, which Murray praised in the letter (and elsewhere on many occasions), was a small token of my gratitude for the friendship, guidance and, when de-served, good-humored ridicule that I was fortunate enough to receive from him from 1983 to 1994.

Elsewhere on this site is the text of the letter this one replies to and of my reply.

Anthony Flood

August 18, 2007

“Tony, . . . I'm afraid that you are an unregenerate Seeker”

Murray N. Rothbard

5 Pearce Mitchell Place

Jackson Heights, N.Y.  11372


August 11, 1984 


Mr. Tony Flood

33-30 83rd St.

Jackson Heights, N.Y.  11372


Dear Tony:

I read your letter in some distress. My my:  a blend of mysticism and utilitarianism, holism and Buddhism, all this adds up to what friend of mine would call “my second favorite thing.” My first favorite? Who knows—it’s a tie between a bunch of things: an example—being kicked in the groin by a concentration camp guard. Frankly, I consider the whole thing gibberish. I’ve know some others who have gone the same route, but usually it takes a pre-immersion in California and its outré life-style. A word of caution? The only point I can make at this juncture is to relay a wise word form that great and hard-hitting Thomist work: Father Toohey’s Notes on EpistemologyToohey said: look with great mistrust on any philosophic concept that employs capital letters: e.g., your “Absolute Self.”

Also, I don’t think the Buddhist defense of liberty is going to get anywhere. If we are all part of one another’s self (or Self) then surely it is OK for me to cut off my toe-nail, and suppose that I regard the guy down the block as my cosmic toe-nail, or Toe-Nail? What then, O guru?

Tony, you’re a great fellow, but there are two kinds of intellectuals in this world, the Seekers and the Finders, and I am afraid that you are an unregenerate Seeker. I don’t know if anything can save you from seven years of Buddhism at this point, but you might try, before you proceed any further, Volume I, Chapter 1, of Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism, “The Origin of the Dialectic,” and the marvelous, acidulous work of Norman Cohn, Pursuit of the Millenium [sic].

Vaya con Dios,

Murray Rothbard


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