Some thoughts on philosophy

…by other people:

One of the things I love about philosophy is how egalitarian it is. There’s no “beginning” philosophy and no “advanced” philosophy. You can’t do philosophy at all without jumping right in the deep end of the very same questions all philosophers have wrestled with since the time of Plato, questions such as what it means to be just, or whether people really have free will.

M.G. Piety (from just down the road at Drexel University)

I want to see adds on TV about studying philosophy or about great philosophers, I want to see these philosophers on the side of buses, in popular magazines, in concert halls and cinemas, I want to see stadium philosophers…where people go to learn and think rather than be told, ones that explore questions of ontology and epistemological truth, rather than relay religious ideology.

Jack James

Imagine yourself in the office of a senior executive of a big company, such as Nestlé or UBS. But instead of typing on his computer’s keyboard, the man just sits still, chin resting on his fist and gazing as if lost in thought. Like a modern thinker, he invokes Aristotle and reflects on the meaning of authority.

This image of manager-as-philosopher might seem unrealistic. And yet, a new approach is spreading fast among top executives of Swiss companies, thanks to specialized university lectures and intellectual seminars of ancient and modern philosophy.

–from a piece on why executives are embracing philosophy.

 What do you think about philosophy the field — work published by people in philosophy departments, who publish mostly in philosophy journals like Mind and Noûs, who are writing mostly for other philosophers?

I’ve previously called philosophy a “diseased discipline,” for many reasons. For one thing, people working in philosophy-the-field tend to know strikingly little about the philosophical progress made in other fields, e.g. computer science or cognitive neuroscience. For another, books on the history of philosophy seem to be about the musings of old dead guys who were wrong about almost everything because they didn’t have 20th century science or math, rather than about actual philosophical progress, which is instead recounted in books like The Information.

Do you wish people in other fields would more directly try to use the tools of their discipline to make philosophical progress on The Big Questions? Do you wish philosophy-the-field would be reformed in certain ways? Would you like to see more crosstalk between disciplines about philosophical issues? Do you think that, as Clark Glymour suggested, philosophy departments should be defunded unless they produce work that is directly useful to other fields …?

–get some (possible) answers to these and other questions from Scott Aaronson here.

And:

Harvard students are lined up to study Chinese philosophy. Find out why here and here.

Thanks to the always helpful Bookforum Omnivore blog for these and other interesting links.

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