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Charlie Huenemann

Excellent post - and thanks for making me aware of Stone's work. I agree that Carnap's legacy was in conceiving philosophy as a discipline akin to physics (explicit in the first preface of the Aufbau) - leading to all the things you mention, plus that it can be done ahistorically, it hosts multiple subdisciplines in which piecemeal progress is made ("stone upon stone"), it must employ variables, etc. It ends up looking pretty comical, really.

Enzo Rossi

Carnap bequeathed us a way of thinking about philosophy that allow its practitioners to flourish within modern universities. This involves -- among other things -- an embrace of an intellectual division of labor with specialization, a problems/puzzle-solving-oriented approach, the embrace of formal methods, grant-making, and the embrace of the journal article as preferred medium of communication (etc.). All of this is, of course, how lots of disciplines have adapted to the bureaucratic university after the rise of the Weberian state.

This sounds plausible, but then do other humanities (who don't do much of that all) flourish any less than philosophy?

Glad to see you're blogging again, by the way.

Eric Schliesser

Thank you for the kind welcome.
I really can't speak on the state of other humanities.


not to take anything away from stone—i think his work is fantastic—but i think that in all your questions about pseudo-philosophy and professional philosophy you could really stand to acknowledge that this is a thoroughly cavellian point in stone's work.

Eric Schliesser

Stone does not hide his debts to Cavell.

Jan Sleutels

Well, more than once I found comfort in Kolakowski's remark: "A modern philosopher who has never once suspected himself of being a charlatan must be such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading." Leszek Kolakowski, Metaphysical Horror (1988)

BLS Nelson

Nice to see you're still around, Eric!

The connection between Carnap and the professionalization of philosophy was something I was thinking about during the early autumn. Your post on Stone above sparked a renewed interest, which I should thank you for.

At points here you seem to be quite skeptical of Stone's long game; I guess I'm wondering how far your skepticism goes. Probably much like you, I see no harm in Carnap's programmatic aspirations, and I do not condemn those who would take up the mantle as non-philosophers. But there does seem to be something very wrong with any school of philosophy that is incapable of articulating and promulgating good reasons for theory choice and features of the philosophical character.

Here is a substantive argument we can make which makes the worry more explicit. Suppose we adopt the platitude that the method of philosophy is to give and take reasons. Obviously, it should then be vitally important that philosophers possess the traits of character which allow them to both give and to take reasons. But it seems to me that mainstream contemporary philosophical subcultures emphasize the process of giving reasons in the form of arguments, and does not train people to *take* reasons by way of listening effectively. e.g., the use of the principle of charity between conversation partners who are both fluent in a language encourages credulous interpretation worthy of the sermon, while the tradition of bloodsport encourages strategic interpretation, which is more fit for the politician than the philosopher.

Both of these failures in the profession seem to be characterisable as defects of philosophical character. They both seem to involve a kind of tone-deafness to the fact that most philosophical theories are upheld both for reasons and as choices. While strategic interpreters ignore the reasons for a choice, credulous listeners avoid the fact that those reasons were choices and not mere truths. If those are fair inferences, then there is a very sense in which professional philosophy must leave philosophers incapable of doing half of their job, according to a more or less platitudinous conception of how philosophers ought to do their job. So perhaps Stone has got a lot right.

Eric Schliesser

I hope to be 'around' for a while longer! But, thank you.
I think your way of articulating one of the issues at hand is astute, but (ahum) needlessly offensive. (Yeah, I know, I have no right to say that.)
I prefer to think about this issue in terms of the limits to topic neutrality; a method that is topic neutral cannot offer justifications for itself (w/o begging some big qestions.)

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


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