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Mario, Thank you for your response. I didn't mean for that opening to sound so harsh, and I do apologize if you took it as such. You definitely did say something, but I'm enough of a platonist that anything less (i.e., nominalism of any sort) strikes me as a bit weak. I definitely agree that we should be attentive to power relations and to the ways that normative discourses are used as tools for the colonization of spaces, bodies, and minds. Still, like I mentioned, I'm a enough of a platonist that I do think there is at least some sort of necessary correspondence between given words and ideas even in the midst of their obvious contingency. And I believe that there are, as I alluded to before, potential negative political consequences to your stance as well. Normativity is a two-edged sword. Thank you as well for the Searle link; I will be sure to check that out. (I'm sorry to post using my wordpress account, but I wasn't able to do so otherwise when I tried for some reason.)
Mario, You seem to be a very intelligent and well-read person. Unfortunately, your comment hasn't put that erudition to good use, mostly because it says next to nothing. At the end of the day, is Sarah Palin just as much a "philosopher" as was Wittgenstein? I should hope not, but I know many people, perhaps a healthy majority of US Americans who would affirm that sentiment. Or, take George W. Bush's declaration that "Jesus Christ" was his favorite political philosopher. Again, millions of English-speaking people agreed that he had correctly (or at least not incorrectly) used the term 'philosopher' in making that statement. Of course, the results of that folly have been horrendous and are visible for all the world to see. Instead of setting up a straw man to attack the argument in this essay ("there is no platonic form of philosophy"), perhaps we should step back and ask whether there's a middle ground between the typically-deconstructivist approach that you seem to be arguing for and the cartoon Platonism of which you accuse the above essay. Would a family resemblance notion of 'philosophy' not hold enough water to satisfy a measured consideration of the linguistic information that you cite? And, given this notion of 'philosophy', should we not begin with what is (presumably) best known to the writer and audience of the essay ('Western philosophy', 'footnotes to Plato', etc.). As for your remarks extolling democratization of language usage, surely you are not then claiming the legacy of Socrates while making such statements? In 'Western philosophy', at least, the primary aim has been to point out that the crowd has gone wrong, that it is perpetually walking off a cliff, especially when it is most convinced of its rightness. While one might quibble about the relative virtues and vices of democracy, surely we would agree that the professionalization of brain surgery has been, on the whole, a positive development. And isn't the development of the mind by philosophy (not to make a statement about what a 'mind' is) at least as important such that it should not be fully handed over to "the masses?" Finally, I would submit that we should always privilege discourses inasmuch as they have a better grasp of truth than do others.
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Dec 17, 2009