Friday, August 29, 2008

The State of the Vocation

In case you missed it, Brian Leiter has an interesting new article assessing the state of our profession here.  It seems right on to me, but I wonder whether others (including my more experienced colleagues) would agree.

1 comment:

Anna Christina Ribeiro said...

There's a "5" missing a the end of that link; this one should work:

Yes, Leiter, echoing Weber, is right that the field has grown increasingly specialized -- in this philosophy is not unlike other disciplines. Indeed the history of knowledge is a history of progressive specialization. It is interesting that, for that reason, "A really definitive and good accomplishment is today always a specialised accomplishment," and work that does not fit that mold may have a chance of being influential outside of philosophy, but is typically less respected among philosophers. But non-philosophers do expect something like a "philosophy of life" from philosophers, and I think rightly so. I don't know that Leiter is right that philosophy has historically offered little in that regard--Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Sartre come to mind. In this philosophy is unique among other academic disciplines, so I think that if one is to look for a philosophy of life, a philosophy department is, pace Leiter, a good place to start. A philosophy of life does not have to be about content (an ideology to follow); it can be about form or method--a way of living life (say, an attitude of curiosity, questioning, etc.). If philosophy is not that, I don't know what is.

Incidentally, he conspicuously left out issues surrounding the importance of art and beauty in our lives. This too is a sign not only of specialization in the discipline, but of the bias dismissive of aesthetics that permeates it.