Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Just really nice, thanks

Some really nice comments developing over at the PMMMB this month

(special thanks to 'some guy' below for the kind words - it's nice to know the old Pilos can help freshen and spice things up in some of the baddies places.)

(PS the last post here was really great too, thanks to Nate C himself for chiming in)

  1. Perhaps it has to come to a person to do public philosophy; a person has to be moved to do it. Some say that people in general don’t much any more have the idea of service or civic duty, whereas once upon a time across socio-economic classes those things would be considered a part of life. For a philosopher, someone who functions as a philosopher, and who also has this servic-y kind of presumption about how to be, public philosophy is a natural. It’s not something to be promoted as a special duty of philosophers. If anything should be promoted it is the general expectation of service to community across the board for everyone. Then everyone can do this in their own style, including philosophers, who can do it in a philosophical writer-y style, pronouncing some pronouncements and showing the way with argument.
    1. Just jumping in here about how cool this is. I really resonate with your idea that, sure, philosophers may have some public duties, but that is just because they are members of society. Let’s not go around thinking that the source of this duty is some free-floating, noble thing just arising out of philosophy itself!
      Also that’s a great point about how some people are just a natural. I wonder, do you think this is one of those nature-nurture debates? Either way, it’s clear that some people, for whatever reason be it nature or nutre, do gravitate more towards public philosophy and doing it. I think they should be commended certainly, but maybe other folks who prefer to remain in the shadows and work on their ideas should not be held up to scorn and ridicule either. It’s a broad church, this academy of ours, whatever its problems!
      1. Thanks very much, Anonymous 1:10. You’h got it exactly. So glad I am not alone in this world.
        About nature-nurture: I spose I used “naturally” sloppily, without much attention to its likely meaning to my audience. I only meant non-artificially, i.e. not in a stilted, clumsy, egoistic way. Being trained as a philosopher, plus having an inclination to civic duty or community service or however you want to think of it (probably more the former than the latter being on the right track) some will rise to the occasion. The inclination is probably some unknown combination of nature and nurture, like almost every other bit of our behaviour, I guess.
        1. But would Kant ever agree that duties could be something towards which we had “inclinations”? (An afterthought.)
        2. Great, thanks for that clarification. And no worries about thanks that you don’t feel alone! What can philosophy do if it can’t help us that way.. I agree that it’s an unknown combination. We can’t always reduce things to simple formulas the way we sometimes want to when doing philosophy. (I guess we’ve got a bit of science envy there maybe!)
          I just hope there are more and more of those “special someones”! If they run out then maybe we really will have to formulate more of a theoretical approach.
          Ooh, and thanks for the Kant point as your after thought. I know a great Kant scholar who I will ask about this tonight.
          1. Excellent! I would love it if you tell me what this Kant scholar says.
            I think public philosophy is hard in the same way growing up is hard.
            1. Wow, the Kant scholar was really insightful on this one. We had coffee and then went to dinner, and then the wine started flowing, and believe me, it was pretty good stuff. I was in there in the study of my apartment, and some of our friends were all ranged around, and the Kant scholar brought her fist down and said ‘No no no! You must go into the public arena and talk about philosophy! You must tell the truth. You must go out to the Agora. In Kant’s moral philosophy, he talks again and again about the inviolable nature of certain moral imperatives. This is part of the constitutive basis of our minds and our status as persons, as I read him. And philosophy can help us grasp the intelligible character of phenomena. Therefore, you must do public philosophy.’ And then the wine kept flowing. (I’m paraphrasing the words of the Kant scholar of course. It was much more eloquent than that.)
              It was a really great night, so thanks for asking about it.
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