Modes of Philosophizing

[Cogito 06, Athens 2007, p. 28-51]

Interview questions (you can view the interviews of Jonathan Βarnes, Myles Burnyeat, Raymond Geuss and Barry Stroud on-line):

 

1.
Philosophy and its role

1.1 Do you think that philosophy as pursued by philosophers has something to say which is, or should be, of some relevance to the way non-philosophers think about the world and their life?

1.2 Is it desirable that philosophers make an effort to make those aspects of philosophy which are relevant in this way available to non-philosophers?

 

2.
Who is to count as a philosopher?

2.1 Should philosophy only be pursued by those trained in philosophy? Are there clear criteria that have to be observed and respected by anyone outside the academic institutions who wants to claim that he/she is engaged in doing philosophy?

2.2 Should academic teachers of philosophy think that they are philosophers in virtue of the fact that they teach philosophy? Should we reserve the title of a philosopher only for Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Wittgenstein and the like?

 

3.
Philosophy and its history

3.1 Although the history of philosophy – despite what many historians like to say – is no more a part of philosophy than the history of mathematics is a part of mathematics, nonetheless you can’t do anything much in the history of a subject without having some sort of acquaintance with the subject itself.’ (J. Barnes, ‘Bagpipe music’, Topoi 25, 2006, 17-20). Do you agree?

3.2 What about the reverse? Can one do anything much in philosophy without having some sort of acquaintance with its history?

 

4.
Philosophy and its parts

Many philosophers nowadays work in particular areas of philosophy without taking an active interest, or without being interested at all in others. To make it clearer, philosophers working on ethics or political philosophy often do not concern themselves with, or they even express an aversion to, areas of philosophy like philosophy of logic or language, and the other way around. What do you think about this compartmentalization of philosophy?

 

5.
Different traditions of philosophy

During the last decades there has been a debate, sometimes quite polemical, between the so-called ‘analytical’ and ‘continental’ philosophers. Should one say that the representatives of the one or the other tradition are not philosophers at all, or do they represent different modes of philosophizing?

 

6.
Different ways of writing philosophy

Throughout the history of philosophy philosophers have used different forms of expressing their views such as dialogues, letters, poems, questions and answers, commentaries, aphorisms. It seems that we have long stopped experimenting in this area and most philosophers choose to write articles and books of a standard form. Does this standardization involve a loss?