how he translates these texts -- very methodically, and with a light but thorough hand. (These sound like the attributes of an excellent baker.) " -called grandmother hypothesis -- the benefits to society of a body of people, willing and able to contribute their skills and knowledge, but no longer driven by necessities such as earning a living, getting the children to bed at a reasonable hour, and pleasing the department head.
When students are introduced to the great philosophical works of the early modern period, it is usually in the hope that they will engage with the thoughts and arguments that the texts present. The teaching experience of many of us suggests that most students simply cannot understand these texts. The increasing rate of change in the English language ensures that fewer and fewer of today’s readers can cope with the writings of the 16th-18th centuries. There are difficulties of syntax, length and complexity of sentences, words that are no longer current, still-familiar words used in meanings that they now do not have, arcane references to other philosophers which today’s students will seldom understand or be required to follow up; these and other factors create forbidding obstacles to engaging with these early modern texts.
I reduce the obstacles so that students can more easily come to grips with the philosophical thoughts the texts express. Once they do that, they still won’t have an easy time, because the material itself is hard; but their efforts will go into getting philosophical understanding, not decoding old prose.
My versions are faithful to the content of the originals, but are plainer and more straightforward in manner. I could have made them even plainer, but that would have taken them further than I wanted to go from the stylistic feel of the originals. I love the original texts, and am glad to have spent years wrestling with them in their pristine form. I do wish, though, that through the years I could also have read them sometimes with all my energy going into the philosophy.