Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2018

Progress in Philosophy

In a recent post on his blog Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen talks about whether there has been progress in philosophy. Tyler approaches this question by describing some ways other fields have taken on philosophical problems, approaches or insights. One might still wonder: what have philosophers done for philosophy itself? This question is related to another: why do we (still) read old books of philosophy?  In what follows, I try to answer these questions, and also to consider what the demand for progress reveals about the relationship between philosophers and non-philosophers.
***
Academic disciplines regularly export technologies, ideas and practices outside the ivory tower, or to other parts of it.  Tyler’s list consists mostly of what I would classify as (sometimes second- or third-hand) philosophical exports.  I don’t deny the value or the philosophical character of any of those items, but I do deny the implication that philosophy should be judged by what gets exported from it—…