Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Sweeping Claim About (and Plea to) Philosophy

This is rather sweeping and (too?) grandiose, but it's the best I've got at the moment--painted in broad strokes--on a possible worry about the interest in how bad we are at lots of (important) things (or misunderstandings about the implications of such study). From some work in progress:

"If philosophy is conceived of as an entirely (and negatively) critical activity, then philosophy will be regarded as an enemy of life-affirming inspiration and a hazard to conviction. There have, of course, always been some who issue warnings about philosophers, but often not for intellectually honest reasons. Are these warnings always incorrect? There is a trend in some recent philosophy, particularly that informed by empirical research in psychology and other social sciences, which might be viewed as providing new ground for a lack of self-trust. An optimistic response would be to hope that these findings can be employed in the service of more careful (and informed) reflection, rather than causing a general loss of confidence in our own emotional responses and judgments. If philosophy is to make itself (or preserve itself as) a constructively critical activity, then those working in these areas should be thinking and writing not just about our failures as reflective and emotionally guided beings, but also about how our new understanding of those failures can transform our self-conception, and improve our capacity for judgment, so that we aren’t simply left with a sense of how bad we are at being ourselves."

Is that (too?) unfair?

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Tamar Szabó Gendler's concept of alief might not be pertinent to these sweeping and weighty concerns. Her article, which I've net yet read, just made The Philosopher's Annual "ten best" of 2008, and back in May she and psychologist Paul Bloom had a very recommendable BH diavlog on the subject: