Philosophy As ‘Ways Of Seeing Things’

In Confessions of a Philosopher (Random House, 1997, pp. 399-400) Bryan Magee writes: [T]he most important things great philosophers have to give us are to be got at not by analysing the logic of their arguments or their use of concepts but by looking at reality in the light of what it is saying….”Is reality illuminated forContinue reading “Philosophy As ‘Ways Of Seeing Things’”

Jerry Fodor And Philosophical Practice

I wrote a short post on Facebook today, making note of the passing away of Jerry Fodor: Much as I admired Fodor’s writing chops, I deplored the way he did philosophy. The stories of his ‘put-downs’ and sarcastic, ironic, ‘devastating’ objections, questions, or responses in seminars always left me feeling like this was not howContinue reading “Jerry Fodor And Philosophical Practice”

The Inseparability Of The Form And Content Of Arguments

Is it more important for philosophers to argue well than it is to write well? Posed this way, the question sets up a false dichotomy for you cannot argue well without writing well. Logic is not identical with rhetoric, but the logical form of an argument cannot be neatly drawn apart from its rhetorical component.Continue reading “The Inseparability Of The Form And Content Of Arguments”

John David Mabbott And Two Influential Paragraphs

In the summer of 1992, I had begun to consider the possibility of returning to graduate school–this time for a new program in study in an unfamiliar field: philosophy. I had no previous academic exposure to philosophy so I would have to begin at the ‘bottom’: by taking classes as a non-matriculate student, and thenContinue reading “John David Mabbott And Two Influential Paragraphs”

The Acknowledgments Section As Venue For Disgruntlement

In The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre  (University of Chicago Press, 1985) David P. Jordan writes in the ‘Acknowledgments’ section: With the exception of the Humanities Institute of the University of Illinois at Chicago, whose fellowship gave me the leisure to rethink and rewrite, no fund or foundation, agency or institution, whether public or privateContinue reading “The Acknowledgments Section As Venue For Disgruntlement”

My First Academic Conference

The first academic conference I attended was the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Association of Symbolic Logic, held at the University of California at San Diego. I submitted an abstract for a presentation, which was accepted, and so off I went, hoping to gain ‘experience’ and ‘exposure.’ My paper was based on part of myContinue reading “My First Academic Conference”

The Contingency Of Academic, ‘Disciplinary’ Classification

The textbook I use for my Social Philosophy class, Social Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Present (ed. Alan Sica, Pearson, 2005) is a standard anthology featuring selections from a wide range of historical periods and schools of thought (and the theorists identified with them). This collection may not only serve as ‘a textbook of socialContinue reading “The Contingency Of Academic, ‘Disciplinary’ Classification”

Artificial Intelligence And Go: (Alpha)Go Ahead, Move The Goalposts

In the summer of 1999, I attended my first ever professional academic philosophy conference–in Vienna. At the conference, one titled ‘New Trends in Cognitive Science’, I gave a talk titled (rather pompously) ‘No Cognition without Representation: The Dynamical Theory of Cognition and The Emulation Theory of Mental Representation.’ I did the things you do atContinue reading “Artificial Intelligence And Go: (Alpha)Go Ahead, Move The Goalposts”

Philosophy, ‘Pseudo-Philosophy’, And Claiming To Be Philosophy

In his foreword to Jacques Bouveresse‘s Wittgenstein Reads Freud: The Myth of the Unconscious (Princeton University Press, 1996, New French Thought Series), Vincent Descombes writes: [S]cience alone is opposed by a counterfeit called ‘pseudo-science.’ ‘Pseudo-philosophy’ does not seem to be a term we can use, much as we might be tempted to when dealing with what weContinue reading “Philosophy, ‘Pseudo-Philosophy’, And Claiming To Be Philosophy”

Women In Philosophy And Reconceptualizing Philosophical Method

This past Monday, on 20th April, Christia Mercer, the Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, delivered the Philosophy Department’s annual Sprague and Taylor lecture at Brooklyn College. The title of her talk was ‘How Women Changed The Course of Philosophy’. Here is the abstract: The story we tell about the development ofContinue reading “Women In Philosophy And Reconceptualizing Philosophical Method”