Thursday, August 12, 2010

Forests and Trees

Ok, here's the initial thesis: the same thing that makes analytic philosophers be good readers also makes them be bad readers. What makes them be good readers is that they ask after every single sentence -- word, even -- exactly what it means and whether or not it is true. What makes them be bad readers is that sometimes you have to ease up on the facts of the wording in order to see what someone is actually saying.

This gets us to the deeper thesis: it is hard to know what counts as good philosophy. Why? Lots of reasons, but for present purposes: because it is hard to know what amounts to just trying to get the wording right (a fine endeavor, but not something to get excited about) as opposed to getting the idea right. Why? Because, on the one hand, every way of wording something adds up to being a different idea; but, on the other hand, sometimes the differences are piddly.

The analytic philosophers I know are mostly 8 times smarter than everyone else. This said, there is something about the training, I think, that makes it easy for them to lose track of objects -- conceptual objects I mean. Easy to mistake wording for content; easy, conversely, to think positions the same that are not the same at all, e.g., metaphysical realism and the correspondence theory of truth.

I think, anyway, that I think that being a good philosopher partly involves being able to keep very close track of objects; being able to tell which are the important ones; and being able to judge well what degree of analytic resolution is required in relation to any given issue.

For the record.

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