Philosophy: does it matter?
Stephen had had extensive training in the field of analytic philosophy, and one of the matters we used to argue about was the value of that current of thought--and indeed any form of academic philosophy. I took the negative position, having been repeatedly disappointed over the years in my quest to find any enlightenment in what passes for contemporary philosophy. Obviously, such figures as Plato, Aristotle, and Kant are different, but their day is long past, alas.
Now this thread has been taken up by Stanley Fish, the maverick professor of English and Law, in a series in the Opiniator section of the NY Times online. Fish recognizes that philosophical reflection may keep the brain limber because it offers a mental workout. Yet he holds that it is inconsequential because it does not deliver answers to any of life's most important questions, In these matters philosophical arguments are generally marshaled only post quem, in an effort to justify conclusions previously attained by other means,
I will not try to summarize his arguments further, though perhaps this tidbit will help.
"Philosophy is fun; it can be a good mental workout; its formulations sometimes display an aesthetically pleasing elegance. I’m just denying to philosophy one of the claims made for it - that its conclusions dictate or generate non-philosophical behavior ..." (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/does-philosophy-matter-part-two/#more-102109)
Some discussion has been elicited, in the comments sections after the pieces, and from Paul Boghossian who points (Scribd) to David Velleman's dissent.
I'm sorry that I can't supply a full set of URL pointers, but the pieces should be fairly easy to find.
Labels: academic philosophy