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On the Legitimate Roles of Philosophy Today


I think the problem with philosophy (and many others things) is that it’s illegitimately divorced from any kind of activity. It arrogates itself to a position second only to God. And I think today, philosophers have exploded each others arguments over the years, they much of their work is simply an apology for their existence. It’s true that in the past, and perhaps to some extent even now, philosophy has produced many things of value, such as mathematics. However, what is indefensible today–not abstract thought for the sake of abstract thought–is the continued pretense that the Ultimate is being sought since it seems the Ultimate boils down to truisms.

Philosophy can do two things honestly. In the Academy it can drop the fraudulent pretense of revealing God (using the term figuratively), a task, in infinitely humbler form, taken up by the natural sciences. And outside it it can be regarded as providing (invariably tentative and always questionable to some degree) principles guiding action, such as the dramatic conventions used by Hollywood screenwriters.

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