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09/09/2014

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 Michael Kremer

First, in general, yes.

But second, your post can't help but remind me of this:

"This also must be confessed, that the most durable, as well as justest fame, has been acquired by the easy philosophy, and that abstract reasoners seem hitherto to have enjoyed only a momentary reputation, from the caprice or ignorance of their own age, but have not been able to support their renown with more equitable posterity. ... The fame of Cicero flourishes at present; but that of Aristotle is utterly decayed. La Bruyere passes the seas, and still maintains his reputation: But the glory of Malebranche is confined to his own nation, and to his own age. And Addison, perhaps, will be read with pleasure, when Locke shall be entirely forgotten." (Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Section I, as if you need reminding.) Which just goes to show that guessing which 20th c philosophers will be footnotes to which other 20th c philosophers is a mug's game.

Eric Schliesser

Michael, thank you, even so can I ask you to re-read this little digression:
http://digressionsnimpressions.typepad.com/digressionsimpressions/2014/07/on-immortality-and-fleeting-impressions.html


Stefan Heßbrüggen

On September 1st 1542, the Leipzig humanist and professor of Latin and Greek Joachim Camerarius received a goblet worth 16 guilders from his grateful colleagues in the faculty of arts for his engagement in administering the university. Camerarius is certainly no central figure in the history of philosophy (though maybe to some extent in the history of classics). He was honored for what we call today the "service to the profession". I think at times that this is misleading, because our real service is to the discipline and its tradition. I personally try to honor this obligation of 'carrying on' by trying to do justice to some of those bygone colleagues which rarely appear in standard accounts of the history of philosophy - not because I am convinced that what they have to say is urgently to be heard in this time, but because I suspect that their collective work has contributed to who and what we are today as philosophers. This is at the same time a humbling and a gratifying experience - humbling because doing philosophy in the Germany of the Thirty Years War was certainly more difficult than today, and gratifying because in the context of their own time, some of them were diligent and sharp minds furthering the advancement of knowledge in much the same way we still try to do that today. So one - though, of course, not the only - way of shaping a healthy professional attitude is to serve as Baillet to the Rembrandtsz Van Nierops of history. Today's colleagues trying "to progress even closer to the truth" will have to console themselves with the hope that future generations will not lose their antiquarian curiosity or that they will survive in the acts of the university as having received a goblet for their service.

The source for the Camerarius anecdote:

Stefan Heßbrüggen

Link was eaten in the last comment - if you can insert it, please do, else here it is: http://books.google.ru/books?id=CeU-k_n-A2cC&printsec=frontcover&hl=de&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Eric Schliesser

Stefan, thank you. I very much agree with your statement that "real service is to the discipline and its tradition. I personally try to honor this obligation of 'carrying on' by trying to do justice to some of those bygone colleagues which rarely appear in standard accounts of the history of philosophy - not because I am convinced that what they have to say is urgently to be heard in this time, but because I suspect that their collective work has contributed to who and what we are today as philosophers. This is at the same time a humbling and a gratifying experience - humbling because doing philosophy in the Germany of the Thirty Years War was certainly more difficult than today, and gratifying because in the context of their own time, some of them were diligent and sharp minds furthering the advancement of knowledge in much the same way we still try to do that today. So one - though, of course, not the only - way of shaping a healthy professional attitude is to serve as Baillet to the Rembrandtsz Van Nierops of history." (I would just use the plural 'traditions.') I have reflected a bit about this 'carrying on' here and at NewAPPS.

Stefan Heßbrüggen

Just to clarify: in a very rough approximation, I use the singular in order to refer to philosophy as what you could call a 'social fact' shaped by institutions and externalities, i. e. as a single identifiable strand of our (read: Western) culture (all this should be read with Rortyan undertones). This single tradition is shared by all people belonging to different traditions in the plural when meeting in a search committee. This seemingly puts me at odds with attempts to broaden this context to include 'reflexive traditions' that do not belong to this 'zapadnocentric' mainstream. But I hope that it is possible to use 'philosophy' as a purely descriptive, social category devoid of any elevated or, to use Rorty's term, 'redemptive' connotations, so that folks could do things 'we' do doing philosophy without doing 'philosophy'.Spelling this out in detail will have to wait until I have tenure.

'Zapadnocentric' derives from the Russian word for 'West' - a neologism I find quite handy at times…

Sam Rickless

I don't know why you think it's a delusion that I am a very small part of a world historical progressive project. All of those who have contributed to freedom from domination, to liberating knowledge, to the irrelevance of arbitrary characteristics, to an understanding of some aspect of the universe, and so on, are doing their part. If they think they are playing a role in the progress of humanity, they are not deluded.

Eric Schliesser

Most of the things you mention are noble, Sam, but few are a consequence of scientific conception of philosophy. Having said that, all of these projects are fragile achievements and should be celebrated even if the "progress of humanity" seems rather shallow in the Summer of 2014.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.

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