The Stone

From the NY Times:

The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.

The first entry, “What is a philosopher?” is by Simon Critchley, who is “chair of philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York, and … moderator of this series.” 

His answer to his question appeals to a life lived outside of, and with disregard for, many expected patterns:

Pushing this a little further, we might say that to philosophize is to take your time, even when you have no time, when time is constantly pressing at our backs. The busy readers of The New York Times will doubtless understand this sentiment. It is our hope that some of them will make the time to read The Stone. As Wittgenstein says, “This is how philosophers should salute each other: ‘Take your time.’ ”. The philosopher, by contrast [to “lawyers, policy-makers, mortgage brokers and hedge fund managers] is free by virtue of his or her otherworldliness, by their capacity to fall into wells and appear silly…

Socrates adds that the philosopher neither sees nor hears the so-called unwritten laws of the city, that is, the mores and conventions that govern public life. The philosopher shows no respect for rank and inherited privilege and is unaware of anyone’s high or low birth. It also does not occur to the philosopher to join a political club or a private party. As Socrates concludes, the philosopher’s body alone dwells within the city’s walls. In thought, they are elsewhere.

Well, that’s the sort of thing that makes me pretty cross.  It’s the kind of statement that leaves students unprepared to find that in fact professional philosophers form a club, with pretty well defined boundaries, that reflect all sorts of divisions in the society.  And that many (most?) philosophers today are unwilling or unable to recognize the extent to which their choices are influenced by an unconscious internalization of the mores and conventions of our time.

But there’s more to come.  What do you think?  Disagreement is very welcome, especially if you have good reasons that your can describe.

Finally, readers might be interested in our discussion here of the supposed  negative reputation of analytic philosophy.