Philosophy & Philosophers in General

The philosopher's usual self-image.

     Most web sites about philosophy are, understandably, quite enthusiastic about their subject. This site, however, is rather more ambivalent in that regard.

     On the one hand, I don't deny for a moment that everyone—including me—has at least an implicit philosophical outlook, even if rather undeveloped in many cases. Nor do I deny that there is a correct, and scientific philosophy, or at the very least, a more or less scientifically correct stance on just about any particular philosophical question or issue. But at the same time there has been produced, over the centuries, an enormous mountain of philosophical garbage, including thousands of entire volumes of just plain bullshit. And quite a bit of it has been produced by the most famous philosophers themselves (PLATO and KANT come quickly to mind here!)

     On any given philosophical issue, there is only one view that is actually correct (whether or not it has yet been discovered or the world has yet been convinced of its correctness). All other views are incorrect. Since throughout history people have weighed in on every side of every question, and since there are dozens of incorrect theories for every correct one, the sorry fact is that most philosophy is rubish! Unlike the particular sciences, which clean up their trash after they have finally come up with something good and useful, philosophy has tended to simply wallow in its own waste products, caring not that its valid conclusions are difficult to find amidst all that horrible mess.

     This site exists in order to try to do something about this dreadful state of affairs. The main thing to be done is to expose and denounce all the bullshit. That's why so many ditties here are critical or full of ridicule. The other thing to be done is to praise the philosophical truths that actually have been discovered, and which now lay mostly buried by all that bullshit.

     It is, however, true that some critical attacks on philosophy (and specific philosophical ideas) are not themselves correct. The following item, by the famous and respectable poet John Keats, seems to actually be an attack on science and the scientific approach to the philosophical understanding of the world:

Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine
Unweave a rainbow.
     —John Keats, "Lamia", II, lines 229-37, (1820)

     And some items, like this one of my own, while (I think) largely true, do admittedly overstate the case just a tad:

Philosophy, philosophy,
where does your essence lie?
"In Wisdom deep; the search for truth!",
professors all reply.
Philosophy, philosophy,
I wish you were this grand;
But hist'ry shows, with ruler's views
you always take your stand.
Philosophy, philosophy,
the rich your service buying;
You prostitute yourself to them—
Your essence lies in lying.
     —JSH, "The Essence of Philosophy" (1993)

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