When Philosophy Lost Its Way

Robert Frodeman, Adam Briggle, CC BY-SA, Mar 21, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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My central disappointment with philosophy was with what it had become as an academic enterprise. "Philosophic activity devolved into a contest to prove just how clever one can be in creating or destroying arguments." I can think of more than a few such people - Jerry Fodor, David K. Lewis - who seem to think of it as some sort of scholarly gamesmanship. I have always considered myself first and foremost a philosophers (not that anyone in academia would recognize me as such) and I have always been one with "dirty hands" - not simply seeking wisdom or some sort of elevated being or even "that we ought to be (in spite of our failings) model citizens and human beings." There is, though, something inherent in philosophy (at least as I see it) that links it with conduct. "How does one become a philosopher?" "Wash the bowl."

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