Meaningless philosophy

Philosophy can no more show a man what he should attach importance to than geometry can show a man where he should stand.

Peter Winch, Analytic Philosopher

I agree – this is certainly true of analytic philosophy. AP is that most pretentious waste-of-time which imposes specious and fictional conceptual schemas on the world. AP makes a point of trying to isolate concepts from their complex, multivalent, human reality (abstraction) in order to deal more easily with them through dogmatic methods and unsupportable foundational assumpions (reason). The goal of AP is to make things ‘clear’, which means the development of a conceptual delusion which they can, with pride, purport to represent the world. This chicanery is pursued through looking at things from a limited perspective, presenting bogus examples, and ignoring any considerations which do not fit tightly into their conclusions. AP is nothing but conceptual speculation dressed in the Emperor’s new garb. It is ‘white mythology’ (Derrida) – mythology taken to be ‘true’ and ‘pure’ because it has been bleached of any colourful language, affective meaning and human existential context.

Winch uses geometry in his analogy, but to think that philosophy is or must be anything like geometry is utterly narrow-minded and ridiculous. But this is to be expected of Analytic Philosophers; they have long suffered an inability to think laterally. They lack broad experience and perspectives of the world – many are secluded geeks and their love lives are less than notable. The most dreadful thought for them is that someone, somewhere is thriving on the turbulence of human existence and finding philosophy helpful to the task, rather than as a means of escapist idealism.

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3 Responses to “Meaningless philosophy”

  1. glidingsupine Says:

    Your dislike of analytic philosophy and academic philosophers is a pretty common theme.

    Most philosophers throughout history have been associated with some academic institution during sometime of their lives–even “continental” philosophers like Derrida or Foucault. One of your most favorite philosophers you quote, Nietzsche, was also an academic for awhile, and even attempted to gain professorship after a hiatus but was rejected. Other conventionally studied philosophers, including Kant, Hegel, Berkeley, had academic positions; Aristotle and Plato were both heavily involved in their own schools. So, who are the non-academic philosophers that are supposedly so superior in character than the academic ones? Do you have names?

    Maybe Spinoza? The humble lens grinder, who was subsequently a hermit and recluse, who didnt have any “broad experience” and probably didnt have a sexual relationship in his whole life? In fact, I am not familar with many philosophers who were known for their don juan pursuit of sensual pleasures. Most, in fact, were probably “secluded geeks.”

    You seem to have a significant contempt for any philosophy that might be directed to subjects that you do not deem important in some grand existential way. There are some topics that intellectually interest people not for their salvific potential, but their ability to delight their curiosity and simple intellectual pleasure. I personally find a lot of philosophy boring and “pointless”–but I dont think boring and pointless philosophy is limited at all to academic or analytic philosophers. [“Waste-of-Time” activities is something worth of philosophical speculation itself, and what is meant by it; are we to place in the waste bin all activities that do not contribute to the national GDP? ]

    When it comes to Peter Winch’s particular quote–he may be specifically incorrect about philosophy, but this doesnt necessarily reflect the opinion of all philosophers’ considered analytic, or even most. Bertrand Russell, who is often considered a founder of analytic philosopher, had this to say of philosophy and its value:

    “Thus, to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good. “

  2. beholdtheman Says:

    Yes, my complaint is common and far too readily dismissed by academics trying to defend their status in their ivory tower. This complaint will persist because common people refuse to accept academicians’ narrow-minded, dogmatic conception of what philosophy must be.

    To be fair to academicians, what they pursue and attach value to may be a result of the marginal pursuits available to them through limited funding to the Academy.

    Philosophers’ associations with the Academy come in various shapes and sizes. Admittedly, it is problematic to generalise. It is especially difficult to consider the academies of Artisotle and Plato in the same vein as those since the Englightenment.

    I don’t conceive of an ‘academic philosopher’ as anyone who has ever studied at an academy. What I’m against is those toadying attitudes to the Academy’s culture and imperatives (e.g. “publish or perish”, scholasticism and the honour system).

    On the positive side, Nietzsche was quite harsh in his attacks against the Academy. However, he was mostly an autodidact. I have not read of Nietzsche being rejected professorship for whatever reason.
    From Friedrich Nietzsche I quote:
    About being a prestigious professor at the University of Basel he says, “Ten years lay behind me in which the nourishment of my spirit had really come to a stop, in which I had not learned anything new that was useful, in which I had forgotten an absurd amount for the sake of dusty scholarly odds and ends.”

    Derrida and Foucault were far less critical of the academy, but at least they questioned its concerns and foundations.

    I count Marx as an analytic philosopher who was critical of the imperatives of institutions more generally.

    Returning to Analytic and academicians’ philosophy…
    Hegel was the founder of analytic philosopher and his idealist tendencies have not been rooted out. Kant was a naive nimkinpoop, certainly a vrigin, but a brilliant rhetorician notwithstanding his appalling style.

    Berkeley the Bishop wouldn’t have pulled many roots either. He said if you take the implications of his philosophy seriously nothing changes – that’s good enough for me, as it was for Hume, so I’ll move on.

    The reference to the sexual life of the philosopher was quasi-metaphorical and tongue and cheek. As you know, assuming you still have your nuts, we humans are very concerned about sex. Most philosophers, especially the analytic variety, have neglected what our real concerns are.

    I count the Existentialists as that ragtag group of philosophers who have taken our existential concerns seriously and have not diverted their attention to idealist fantasies. Of course, there are other philosophers/ies who deserve similar acclaim: Schopenhauer, Buddhism, Greco-Roman Moralists (Stoicism, Epicurianism, Cycnicism), to name just a few. Montaigne is perhaps the best example of a serious concern for the ‘philosophy of life’. In taking existence seriously, these philosophers are superior in character to those who rather place emphasis on specious abstract logical conceptual speculation.

    “You seem to have a significant contempt for any philosophy that might be directed to subjects that you do not deem important in some grand existential way.”
    You know me, sir. The telos in my theory is life. What is your goal and salvation?

    I’m not against people engaging in philosophy as they would a novel, movie, epic poem or any other form of mythology. I support the pursuit of pleasure. However, I won’t pretend that this is serious philosophy. I laugh at fantasical idealist speculation that tries to pass itself of as ‘objective’ or ‘logical’. It doesn’t meet the high standards for critical thought required of philosophy, but worse than that, it rarely speaks to individuals with affective meaning that has a bearing on their existence in the world.

    I interpret your quotes as saying Russell’s interest in philosophy is purely cerebral; philosophical questions are the ‘good-in-itself’. He disconnects philosophical questions from their value to human life outside of an idealist fantasy within the mind. There may be a dopamine buzz associated with ‘wonder’ (curiosity) in the process of human evolution, but is that dopamine reward all we’re concerned about?

    But what if we are not asking the ‘true’ questions? AP is chiefly concerned with the logic of up and down, not side-to-side (lateral thinking). Often it involves embellishing the obvious nature of an issue with ‘impressive’ philosophical jargon, which obscures and confuses, thereby by creating entry barriers to the dicussion, which lends the philosopher who has mastered the jargon and its application higher status. We may get a impressive logical answer to a question founded on narrow-minded ways of seeing the world. Furthermore, the question and answer may have no practical bearing on my existence. Do I really want to waste my one-and-only life with this stuff? I say no.

    It disgusts me to see academic philosophers, usually Analytic and Anglophone, so ignorant of perspectives falling outside of their own Apollonian cult.

  3. Suppression is futile « Behold the man Says:

    […] to confront your thoughts and emotions and work through them. Trying to distract yourself, with speculative philosophy for example, is […]

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