Philosophy Weekend: Where This Is Heading

We’ve covered a lot of ground since I kicked off this Philosophy Weekend series a year and a half ago. But I’m not sure if it’s clear how these blog posts are meant to build upon each other towards an ultimate result or conclusion. I’d like to take a step back and look at the overall plan of the project today.

I began this series because I know we all live by philosophical and ethical principles that affect everything we do. This is true, I’ve observed, of people at every level of education and intellectual sophistication (those few individuals who might claim not to live by deeply-held principles would probably be not uneducated but highly educated, and perhaps overly influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche).

We all live by philosophical principles; we all stand up and fight for our principles in one way or another, and many of us would carry our beliefs to our deaths rather than give them up. And yet, when exposed to the light of the slightest examination, many of these deeply held principles and beliefs quickly show themselves to be weakly constructed, purposefully ignorant, childishly simplistic.

However, it does not seem that people hold naive or unexamined beliefs because they are lazy, or because they don’t care. Rather, it seems to me that every single person cares very much about the validity of his or her deepest beliefs. The problem with philosophy is on the supply side. The professional philosophy community is lost within abstract layers of internal debate that do not connect with the larger public at all — not to the slightest degree. (Name one living philosopher. If you said “Daniel Dennett” or “Alain de Botton” you get a prize.)

Many people want to be exposed to philosophy, but the suppliers have let us down. We lack even the most basic forums for in-depth logical debate. Worse, we have failed to construct the linguistic and social structures that would allow us to follow ethical arguments through to their conclusions. Instead, arguments typically die in the very moment they are born, because participants are often unable to establish a common vocabulary with which to speak, or viable rules of debate. We lack the social toolbox that would allow us to resolve even the most basic and obvious philosophical conundrums.

As a writer and blogger with experience managing online community forums, I see this as an opportunity. My immediate goal with Philosophy Weekend is to be relevant, to be controversial and to be current. I want to bring out not only the ideas we live by but also the ideas we vote by, and the ideas that we in military situations might be willing to die by. I want to shadow the controversies in the news, but provide wide-ranging and idealistic perspectives that won’t be presented anywhere else. Most importantly, I want to use these posts to construct an extended argument for my own philosophical point of view. I am not a disinterested observer of ethical arguments. I have a particular set of conclusions in mind, and I hope to see the open discussion that takes place on this blog ultimately working towards a solid proof of my own deeply-held beliefs.

That was my goal in June 2010 when I began this series. I felt uncertain about the project at first, but was happy to quickly see that the articles do resonate with readers. The Philosophy Weekend posts regularly get the most pageviews, the most Facebook and Twitter shares, and the most comments of all Litkicks posts. They are also, to be honest, the ones I enjoy writing the most. I guess the project has been a success.

Or has it? Are these posts actually getting us anywhere? Are we reaching any conclusions, discovering any new ground?

I think we are. I do not consider myself a particularly gifted or groundbreaking ethical philosopher, but I am a stubborn one. I think we’ve come a long way, and I’m proud to see that we’ve followed some unusual and unchartered paths in doing so.

Looking back on all the weekend posts in the last year and a half, I see that we’ve focused on four major points, four persistent common themes. I see these four points as four steps on a path (like the four wooden planks over a muddy stream in the photo at the top of this page, which I took on a recent walk along Neabsco Creek in northern Virginia). Here they are:

  • Militarism is a philosophical illness. As long as our society is constructed upon the acceptance of war and military strength as the ultimate arbiter of international power, we are living upon a weak and unsustainable foundation. It’s amazing how widely the idea of endless war and eternal militarism is accepted by otherwise intelligent and reasonable people, and how much ridicule and disdain any brave individual who stands for a realistic philosophy of pacifism will face. This is the most important and immediate problem for the world to solve, and yet events of the past several years indicate that we are making no progress at all towards solving it.
  • Most people live in a state of complete incomprehension regarding the belief systems of others. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ll hear somebody dismiss a neighbor or stranger as “batshit crazy”, rather than pause a moment to try to understand what the neighbor or stranger is saying. This bad habit transcends party lines and ideological barriers: it’s how conservatives talk about Kim Jong-Il and it’s how liberals talk about Michele Bachmann. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it now again: if you dismiss anybody else’s ideology as “crazy”, you are only demonstrating your own ignorance as to what makes other people tick. You may (and should) freely disagree with what others think and believe, but you are being intellectually dishonest if you fail to try to understand their thought processes in a positive light before you do so.
  • We don’t understand what the most important words in our philosophical vocabulary mean. As a professional software developer, I know that the language I use is an essential part of my ability to get work done. Well, the language we use as ethical philosophers is the intellectual equivalent of COBOL. Or worse. We need to nail down what we’re talking about when we use words like ‘evil‘, or ‘empathy‘, or ‘truth‘. (Most importantly, in my opinion, we need to understand what we mean by the word ‘self‘. There’s a whole lot of gold to mine there.)
  • Philosophy does not just influence society; society influences philosophy. This is a potentially very powerful idea, I think, and I’m only just beginning to feel confident enough in my own foundation to begin developing it further here. While most of us like to imagine ourselves as naturally enlightened and thoroughly open-minded, in fact a tough look at the evidence shows that we all wear blinders way too often. The effect of societal conformity and peer influence in placing these blinders over our eyes is rarely understood. For instance, is it possible that the reason our society currently has so little regard for the discipline of ethical philosophy is that, living in military-bound and war-friendly nations, we cannot stand up to the bright light of ethical philosophy, and must place a blanket over the lantern that would light us? Perhaps the only way for the world to solve its practical problems is for philosophy and politics to walk hand in hand, taking tiny steps towards the ultimate goal of world peace. Neither philosophy nor politics can get us there without the other. As long as our politics are rotten, our ability to pursue philosophical validity will be rotten as well. Philosophy can help end war; and it is only by ending war that we will end our current philosophical dark age.

Phew … sometimes I get carried away with my own ambitions. And yet, the above four points seem quite strong and powerful to me, and I hope that by laying them out as steps on a path I am helping to make it more clear what this whole Philosophy Weekend series is meant to accomplish. As always, I need your help and feedback. What do you think about it all?

16 Responses

  1. Check out:
    Check out: from the U.K..

    I believe you’re right about Philosophy… it’s akin to Poetry, both having very small audiences. Perhaps the art of thinking has taken a back seat to all things digital. But I may be speaking for America and not the world. Certainly there is bound to be a country or two that values philosophy..?

    Re: “I’ve said this before and I’ll say it now again: if you dismiss anybody else’s ideology as ‘crazy’, you are only demonstrating your own ignorance as to what makes other people tick.”

    What if someone instinctively knows that Michelle Bachmann’s ideology is tasteless and uninviting to one’s personal tastes (at best!)… could that person be considered ignorant in your opinion? Methinks not, my friend. The ill-conceived ideas and outright lies tossed about during the GOP debates sits not well with only Liberal/Democrats but Independents and others with different opinions sitting in their chairs aghast at what they are listening to. Politically, the table is set with two extremely differing menus – one that is perfectly fine with a carnivore’s diet and across the table is the party that is instinctively drawn to a vegetarian diet. Either diet will sustain a hungry person, however in an age where choice is preferable to not having a choice, clearly choices are being made as to who will be the next President of the U.S.. It is totally unclear at this point the people’s choosing will end up being, but both sides are eager go win the prize. We both know who we’d choose but that isn’t going to answer the great political debate of the 21st Century. Only patience will produce the outcome to that answer.

    Re: “We need to nail down what we’re talking about when we use words like ‘evil’, or ’empathy’, or ‘truth’.”

    I agree with this. It’s been pet peeve of mine how we have become so casual and seemingly uncaring how well opinions are stated amongst us. It is all too common to hear, for example, a political oriented show with a table of commentators who will all too often begin their answers/opinions with “I think…” Of course they should or they shouldn’t be invited to the table. “I think” tells me that they know others think differently and they want these others to know that they think differently, too. It’s an exercise in futility to ever reach a point of agreement when people begin a dialogue or debate with “I think…” (… and therefore, they are? Hardly!). They are but one other opinion in line with dozens of others that fail to have an actually good answer… one worth thinking about. Where is self-assurance when people speak about topics they should know about… or else why are they invited to offer an answer to the subject being debated if they aren’t sure of what they are offering?

    Re: “Philosophy does not just influence society; society influences philosophy.”

    Good point. Other that a rehash over philosophical writings from the past, which is good for showing each other how much they know of the various philosophical ideals of others, it is infinitely more valuable to discuss the current societal problems and going-ons that pertain to the present times. Sure, Santayana’s “”the one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again”, has it’s truth. However, it cannot be argued the present is far more valuable than the past. “Now” is all there is as some have come to believe… and who amongst us would argue against that?

    The society within which we live makes it’s own philosophy daily as observed through what is important to that society that makes it more applicable to the majority. Housing, energy, education, health concerns and security should be agreed upon and not forced upon the majority to keep a semblance of civility and even contentedness among the citizenry. These are all basic philosophically based needs that get addressed, especially in times of voting. A more important philosophical question has become “who is going to pay for these necessities?” We’re subjected to that question nearly daily in these political times.

    Re: “Philosophy can help end war.”

    Is idealism a tried and true philosophy? šŸ˜‰ If a worldwide questionnaire were to be answered truthfully by the people, I’m quite sure everyone would like to see peace rather than war. The problem is how to attain peace that will provide what peace should be to others? We hu’mans are still evolving and we have a long, long way to go judging on how violent a species we still are even amongst ourselves. We easily fall into the trap of the “Seven Deadly Sins” as spoken of in the Bible – Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Ascedia (sloth), Wrath, Envy, Pride. Those that could care less what the Bible has to say, there is quite a bit of truth in these negative ‘qualities’ that we all too easily can fall into making the lives of others around us uncomfortable at best and completely intolerable at worst.

    I don’t know if collectively hu’manity will ever conquer their personal demons, but I do know until that time comes, war is inevitable to some degree or another. Imprisoning the large population we have under lock and key in America is said to be the largest per capita in the world… and we still fight and war with each other on a daily basis as seen in the number of killings on the nightly news. Like I have said, we are still evolving towards our better nature. Wish us luck!

  2. Mtmynd — “seven deadly sins”
    Mtmynd — “seven deadly sins” are not spoken of in the Bible.

    Levi, how do you compare your philosophy to a late, but still contemporary real life philosopher, Robert Nozick?

  3. Great question, TKG, thanks
    Great question, TKG, thanks for asking. The last (and only) Robert Nozick book I tried to read was “Philosophical Investigations”, many years ago. It didn’t draw me in, and his work seems pretty dull and pointless to me. That’s not to say that he’s dull and pointless compared to other academic philosophers — he’s probably among the best of the ranks — but rather that the community of academic philosophers seems to generate dull and pointless writers.

    A quick look at his Wikipedia page reminds me why I never became interested in Robert Nozick:

    “[Nozick] argues among other things that a distribution of goods is just if brought about by free exchange among consenting adults and from a just starting position, even if large inequalities subsequently emerge from the process.”

    I’d be interested in deconstructing the word “just” (as we have here deconstructed the words “evil” and “empathy”), but I’m not interested in defining it. It seems like a masturbatory exercise to me. There’s something abstract and insular about this approach to philosophy — I’m not talking about Nozick specifically, but about the academic approach to philosophy as a whole — that really rubs me the wrong way. I want to work philosophy with a broad brush. I want controversy, confrontation, challenge.

    There are some living philosophers who are closer than Robert Nozick to what I look for in a philosopher — Peter Singer and Noam Chomsky come to mind. I often disagree with both of them, but at least they manage to deliver penetrating messages that lead to public discussion. I don’t see a lot of people on the subway talking about Robert Nozick.

  4. The photo above fits the
    The photo above fits the topic.
    I am at a PC in a hotel and want to read more of the posts.
    I will concisely respond to each number above.
    1. I think of militarism as fascism and had hoped that with this administration the USA could develop sustainablilty but that will take a long time because so much of the economy is still wired to the military-industrial complex.
    2. I do remember hearing the mantra: “Understand in order to be understood.” Now I know that most just don’t give a crap about understanding other people.
    3. Are you still a Buddhist? If so, isn’t self an error for you?
    Wittgenstein argued language was what he saw as an exhibit for a multi-automobile accident, viz., the cars and the traffic signs and the lay-out of the streets being the words and the meaning being the actual accident.
    4. Ethics has always gotten short shrift in the USA. The bottom line and results are “all that it’s about now.”

  5. TKG: “”seven deadly sins” are
    TKG: “”seven deadly sins” are not spoken of in the Bible.”

    You are correct. A rush to comment on my part. But they are relevant to man’s conditioning, would you say?

    Thx for catching that.

  6. WJ Wiippa, I love that
    WJ Wiippa, I love that Wittgenstein quote about meaning being the car accident.

    Yes, I would say a Buddhist or Buddhist-like conception of self is similar to what I have in mind.

  7. “But they are relevant to
    “But they are relevant to man’s conditioning, would you say?”

    Yes, I fully agree.

  8. Navy, Air Force Fund Research
    Navy, Air Force Fund Research Into Neurological Processes Involved with Individuals Compromising Personal Values

    “Contemporary American culture is the most powerful in history, and the most destructive of competitor culturesā€¦ It stresses comfort and convenienceā€”easeā€”and it generates pleasure for the masses… The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.” -Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Ralph Peters, U.S. Army

    The Price of Your Soul: How the Brain Decides Whether to ‘Sell Out’

    The experiment also found activation in the amygdala, a brain region associated with emotional reactions, but only in cases where participants refused to take cash to state the opposite of what they believe. “Those statements represent the most repugnant items to the individual,” Berns says, “and would be expected to provoke the most arousal, which is consistent with the idea that when sacred values are violated, that induces moral outrage.”

    The study is part of a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, titled “The Biology of Cultural Conflict.” Berns edited the special issue, which brings together a dozen articles on the culture of neuroscience, including differences in the neural processing of people on the opposing sides of conflict, from U.S. Democrats and Republicans to Arabs and Israelis.

    “As culture changes, it affects our brains, and as our brains change, that affects our culture. You can’t separate the two,” Berns says. “We now have the means to start understanding this relationship, and that’s putting the relatively new field of cultural neuroscience onto the global stage.”

    ak, there was the word; amygdala. The Enlarged Amygdala Blues… chicken or the egg, chicken or the egg… what came first -i say the egg, begetting the subsequent mutation known as a chicken…

    They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers.

    However as they were all adults it was hard to say whether their brains had been born that way or had developed through experience.

    Prof Geraint Rees, who led the research, said: “We were very surprised to find that there was an area of the brain that we could predict political attitude.

    Prof Rees and his team, who carried out the research for the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, looked at the brain make up of the Labour MP Stephen Pound and Alan Duncan, the Conservative Minister of State for International Development using a scanner.

    They also questioned a further 90 students, who had already been scanned for other studies, about their political views.

    The results, which will be published next year, back up a study that showed that some people were born with a “Liberal Gene” that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional political views.

    The gene, a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4, could even be stimulated by the novelty value of radical opinions, claimed the researchers at the University of California

    like so: militarism necessarily suppresses unbounded inquiry in general, but has only to effect the capper, as so much else previously mitigates it by vested a priori conclusions and biased/motivated reasoning -this very conclusion itself a case in point, yes, regardless of how self-supporting it is: mea culpa. weird wiring…

    if the vested interests of individuals and groups vie in the ideas of each, what then of creativity and unbounded inquiry? in short, what creative groups do function? besides of course those filthy anarchists if you call that functioning [*koff*].

    People are biased against creative ideas, studies find

    “Our findings imply a deep irony,” wrote the authors, who also included Jennifer Mueller of the University of Pennsylvania and Shimul Melwani of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

    Uncertainty drives the search for and generation of creative ideas, but “uncertainty also makes us less able to recognize creativity, perhaps when we need it most,” the researchers wrote. “Revealing the existence and nature of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancements, even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary. … The field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas to identify how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.”

    The study, “The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas,” might validate the frustrations of creative people, Goncalo said.

    “Our findings imply a deep irony,” wrote the authors, who also included Jennifer Mueller of the University of Pennsylvania and Shimul Melwani of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

    Uncertainty drives the search for and generation of creative ideas, but “uncertainty also makes us less able to recognize creativity, perhaps when we need it most,” the researchers wrote. “Revealing the existence and nature of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancements, even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary. … The field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas to identify how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.”

    The study, “The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas,” might validate the frustrations of creative people, Goncalo said.

    i submit only where individuality is respected -even if inadvertently -can any symbiosis of individual products occur, facilitating a group product or sum -even if inadvertently.

    in the true democracy of the mind and it’s thought and product, even the deranged contribute, even if as a butterfly effect. to dismiss the multi-millenia old dominator culture as flawed or symptomatic, as i do on one hand, is to dismiss it’s very presence, as i don’t on another. (to save this village we must destroy it, that’s The American Way.)

    to be all-inclusive includes the unyet as concluded, and all languages and means. whether edmund burke, albert einstein, louis farrakhan, or buckminster fuller or charlie sheen. (the way fuller thought and wrote was poetry, and idiosyncratic language all the way. his way of philosophizing upon the material world. if it’s products weren’t so materially demonstrable and applicable, what would people otherwise have thought i wonder.)

    our reach must always exceed our grasp. apparently something has grasped even it however. save for our base component of individuals. consensus however, like sheer objectivity itself, isn’t just a subjective determination, it’s a dynamic one, as opposed to a static one -one that can include the static end -which itself precludes the dynamic end. the more things change (nothing is true), the more they stay the same (everything is permitted).

    our philosophy is our testament to our inquiry, not the other way around. it is the mutant as new and fresh as any walnut so cracked open. anything else is just peanuts (as false and pernicious as those filthy legumes always are). no question. the framing of any question drives it’s answer, performing an endrun around any fallacy of argument by assertion… lest the peanut gallery commiserate with the coconuts and produce wingnuts, there will be moderators… from the walnut lobby.

    “There are two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If You Pursue Truth And Justice It will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege it will always be at the expense of truth and justice.” –Julien Benda

    ultimately, i believe in letting reality speak for itself, even if erroneously in my thought.

    the politics of philosophy doesn’t seem absent at all, but actively neutering any union within, just as with these very medical views themselves so mitigate themselves from pointed inclusion into the industry-driven DSM. who framed the essential questions after all? who’s got the largest vested interest?

    there is no federal department of philosophical inquiry at all, much less one to match the CIA, for good reason: our very democratic process supposedly facilitates that, even if found wanting. the question isn’t what are we going to do about it or even think about it, the question is what is the question. if that is not for each to decide on their own, then the sovereignty of the individual has been transgressed and effectively suppressed. we cannot pass on each individual challenge in each’s individuality to our offspring, only the necessities needed that they may do such themselves as well, yet we do, having few options in society, and pray to our genes for the continuance of their own vested interests. debate by population, eugenics to all practical extents. class warfare, superficially. war period. and why not, there is no more practical way to abstractly debate something in motion than there is to observe it. less perhaps even, for even such observations are debatable. we haven’t had anything like actual and proper formal debate practiced at the federal level in so long, it’s nearly a truly forgotten form. this is now the global norm, thanks to the westernization of the world and with that american anti-intellectualization.

    for philosophy to have hope of convalescence and actual vital reconstitution, one might consider achieving cessation of the assault on sheer reason itself first necessary. -or not -depending on one’s philosophy.

    gift economies, cooperatives -any alternatives to the competitive model -must first be competitive in the present forum to even be heard, and thus are immediately compromised. the nature of any moment adds to the moderation of the discussion. not all real debates necessarily end to only one side’s favor, in my view. there is open debate and there is open discussion, and too is their meld -where any of these are tolerated, they’ll present themselves of their own accord quite naturally.

    frank thorne once did a cartoon of two guys sitting around rapping and the caption read “When you’re really up against it, Spinoza isn’t worth a damn.” the immediate value of philosophy may well be the simple affirmation of the opportunity for it -that one isn’t ‘up against it’ at the moment. (like New Orleans was. like Los Angeles may be at the moment.)(see first link…)

    After Experience Taught Me

    After experience taught me that all the ordinary
    Surroundings of social life are futile and vain;

    I’m going to show you something very
    Ugly: someday, it might save your life.

    Seeing that none of the things I feared contain
    In themselves anything either good or bad

    What if you get caught without a knife;
    Nothing -even a loop of piano wire;

    Excepting only in the effect they had
    Upon my mind, I resolved to inquire

    Take the first two fingers of this hand;
    Fork them out -kind of a “V for Victory”-

    Whether there might be something whose discovery
    Would grant me supreme, unending happiness.

    And jam them into the eyes of your enemy.
    You have to do this hard. Very hard. Then press

    No virtue can be thought to have priority
    Over this endeavor to preserve one’s being.

    Both fingers down around the cheekbone
    And setting your foot high into the chest

    No man can desire to act rightly, to be blessed,
    To live rightly, without simultaneously

    You must call up every strength you own
    And you can rip off the whole facial mask.

    Wishing to be, to act, to live. He must ask
    First, in other words, to actually exist.

    And you, whiner, who wastes your time
    Dawdling over the remorseless earth,
    What evil, what unspeakable crime
    Have you made your life worth?

    ~by W.D. Snodgrass

  9. Thank you for this essay and
    Thank you for this essay and the whole series. Your explorations are important.

    Regarding bullet point 2, I think people are in a state of incomprehension of themselves as well as others. More people barely have the vocabulary to describe how they feel. This is especially apparent when it comes to the arts or any creative work.

  10. Levi, like so many of your
    Levi, like so many of your readers, I really enjoy your Philosophy series. It doesn’t matter if there’s no consensus reached on any of the core issues. Philosophy is a logical field only in process–you build an argument via syllogism–but not in each of our founding premises. It’s part of the arts and humanities, not a precise science. Each of us begins from certain premises which can’t be reduced any further. Very often we don’t share those assumptions, so there’s no way to build up logically to shared conclusions. The best we can do is respectfully agree to disagree. That’s why philosophy is also a test of mutual respect, since it teaches us to be tolerant to the arguments of others even there where we begin with very different core assumptions.

  11. Levi, since you mentioned the
    Levi, since you mentioned the word “evil” again, I thought this would be a good time to expand on my answer to the question, “Does pure evil exist?” The answer is no.

    I said previously that I think of evil as an adjective or adverb, not a noun. Our society tends to think in terms of opposites, like “good and bad,” “benevolent or evil,” and “hot or cold.” Much of this is for convenience. But let’s look at hot & cold.

    Heat is caused by the movement of molecules. The faster the molecules bounce around, the hotter they get. As they slow down, they cool off. Cold is a relative term. I might think it’s cold in Jacksonville, FL today, but if someone from North Dakota arrived here at the airport and stepped off the airplane, they might think it was only mild. Absolute zero is the absence of movement in molecules. It is, in that sense, nothing. Not a thing.

    I believe evil is way to describe the diminishment of empathy, just as cold is a way to describe the diminishment of heat, or, for that matter, how black is used in the context of the spectrum to mean the absence of all light.

    Now, the REASONS for diminished empathy are many: Misunderstanding, ignorance, self-defence, survival, mental impairment, etc. That’s why even so-called “evil” people have friends and like their own children. But evil isn’t some tangible that jumps into you, or lives in the meteor hole of an H. P. Lovecraft story, or in a bottle of Old Crow.

    Some people, speaking about the afterlife, say, “If there’s a heaven there must be a hell, because there is always an opposite,” but I say they are wrong. There is no hell. The only thing there is, is the potential for less and less comfort, love, and peace of mind.

  12. Thanks, Levi. Oh, and let me
    Thanks, Levi. Oh, and let me add, actions are seen as evil by the people affected by those actions. Take two countries, A & B, both of which have a history of attacking other countries. If A attacks B, of course B will call A evil.

  13. Levi–have you read the late
    Levi–have you read the late Richard Rorty?
    He wrote about philosophy being all done, viz., there was nothing more to say because it had been all said.
    The late Solomon, professor emeritus at the University of Texas in Austin, told me in a telephone interview that the cognitive sciences and phenomenology–and pragmatism–were the fields where there was still things left to be done.
    He had to catch a flight so I didn’t get to ask more.
    Rorty said philosophy was a war that had been fought and philosophers were old military veterans who could only re-hash old battles

  14. Yes, WJ, I am very interested
    Yes, WJ, I am very interested in Richard Rorty (if he hadn’t died just a few years ago, he’d certainly be on my list of worthwhile living philosophers).

    I like his bold suggestions and I like his word “ironism” among other things. Here’s his Wikipedia page, as usual a good summary. Reminds me that I need to read more of him:

  15. W.J. Weappa, I’ve been
    W.J. Weappa, I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I appreciate your contributions to these discussions. I had to look up “phenomenology” and I’m glad I did; it’s very interesting. I’ve also considered the possibility that there’s nothing more to say in philosophy except to rehash all the same ideas, but one thing that saves philosophy from the dustbin is that there are always new kids coming up that haven’t heard it yet. That, and that some of us need to be reminded of things we’ve almost forgotten, and we change our minds from time to time.

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