“Philosophy as a Blood Sport”

I thought I had read this paper by now emeritus Prof. Normal Swartz, and perhaps you actually have.  It does more than fill-in the details its descriptive title suggests.  It raises the hugely important question of whether the drawing of metaphorical blood is a turn-off for students, and perhaps particularly for women students.

Another section has readers’ comments that came in over about 7 years.  Mostly they confirm both the facts and the concern of the paper, though a well-known feminist philosopher reminds us that some women are relieved at not having to be nice.

On thinking about this, I’ve started wondering about what seem to me related questions:  Is academic philosophy as it has been known in Anglophone countries over the last 100 years a vital professional field? In being a blood sport, is philosophy just a sport?  Is a field which prizes devastating challenges to its own heroes – and the drawing of blood from acolytes – suffocatingly narcissitic?  Is the increasing engagement of young philosopher with empirical fields in fact a deeply motivated challenge to philosophy’s self-absorption?

What do you think?