nasruddin hodja, a master of the negative way


  • oscar brenifier Institut de Pratiques Philosophiques


Negative, Antiphilosophy, Philosophical practice, Pedagogy, Absurdity, Consciousness.


Traditionally, the negative way is a process by which the mental process ties to reach truth about its object through negation of what it is not rather than through affirmation of what it is. In dialectics, the negative moment is one where we examine critically a proposition though the affirmation of its contrary. But in philosophy as a pedagogy or as a practice, there is a tradition, like with Socrates, the cynics or the Zen master, which is more concerned about interrupting the mental process and obtaining silence than explaining. Philosophy has here little to do with “science,” and more with an ascetic conception of “being,” where one shows the absurdity of speech, common or erudite. Consciousness therefore becomes the condition and substance of truth, in a sort of antiphilosophy. Antiphilosophy which pretends to show and shock more than it pretends to tell and explain, is already very present and visible within philosophy itself, for example in the character of Socrates, and his devastating irony, this form of speech that says the contrary of what it says. The cynic, with its total lack of respect for anything and anyone, provides in this context an interesting historical example: it is the rare case of a philosophical school whose name is used as well as a moral condemnation. The XIV century Turkish figure Nasruddin Hodja has a lot do with this tradition. Although he inscribes himself in the Sufi current, he is primarily known through his numerous outrageous and funny stories, very popular all around the Mediterranean. But behind the comic surface of an oral tradition, we discover profound and provocative insights about the man, the world, language, truth, and many other subjects.

Author Biography

oscar brenifier, Institut de Pratiques Philosophiques

Doutor em Filosofia, Campos de pesquisa: Epistemologia, fenomenologia, lógica, filosofia política




How to Cite

brenifier, oscar. (2012). nasruddin hodja, a master of the negative way. Childhood & Philosophy, 2(3), pp. 29–54. Retrieved from