The ends of philosophy

Knowledge, if Dr Dewey is right, cannot be any part of the ends of life; it is merely a means to other satisfactions. This view, to those who have been much engaged in the pursuit of knowledge, is distasteful.

Bertrand Russell implies that means are ‘mere’ in this case, obviously for rhetorical effect; as if the journey was always so unimportant and disappointing compared to the destination. He is mistaken in thinking that philosophy must have its ends in itself in order for the philosopher to have any joy along the way.

Bertie finds Dewey’s view of knowledge as serving pragmatic ends distasteful, and admits that he could be illogical in thinking so. He never bluntly says why he finds such a view distasteful, but, as one could easily imagine, it would wreak havoc on the self-image of a earnest, self-important philosopher who engaged in academic, artificial puzzles that rarely bore any pragmatic fruit.

Bertie should have been more philosophical in considering the ends of philosophy, rather than letting his ego get in the way. We might have had something of significance from him, instead we get only a preacher to those converted to his speculative, pointless way of life.


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