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Gabriel Bergevin-Estable
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Funny how a physicist would probably never pretend knowing about all there is to know in hair styling, but seems pretty well at ease dismissing the throngs of philosophical experts out there who have opinions on how to answer (or not to answer) philosophical questions (and which ones ARE philosophical answers). And just about no one but other philosophers would attempt at putting him in his place (way to go by the way Justin). As an academic discipline, it's hard to imagine falling much lower, unless we closed all courses in philosophy and only continued teaching the history of philosophy, like other disciplines, say, phrenology. Only teach the history of philosophy... wait no I won't go there. Philosophy has taken a beating over the past hundred years. It's not what it once was in the public opinion or in the opinion of other academics. The word is too old, too disseminated in the culture, too often used to despise our work, and beyond our capacity as a social group to control strictly its meaning. My search on RSS feeds on yahoo pipes for the word philosophy brings up more sports news than anything else, a use of the word that has as much to do with philosophy as we do it as my painting of my kitchen walls have to do with fine arts. I believe we need to get with the zeitgeist and execute the performative act of re-branding it. The way propaganda became public relations. I myself pitch in with the contributed suggestion of "conceptual expert", "conceptual analysis", "conceptual structure specialist", or some such alternative. Because really we can't do without concepts in academics, and even if everybody uses them, like computers or writing or the bus, no one is more aware of the options of those tools (the conceptual ones, not the mechanical ones) than philosophers are. We still have our place to play, but the definition of our field as the study of a group of historical texts (even if it is a tradition we still inherit from) is not enough to encompass all of what we can do. While we're sticking to the musky smell of the tomes of knowledge pas that we surely appreciate more than others for several reasons, conceptual analysis is being taken up by linguistics, psychology, politics, administration, communications, public relations, mathematics, and of course, physics. And while I'd argue, and others would agree, that some of those fields are really fielding philosophical players carrying out philosophical activity, the claim can't be taken seriously, because our weight in society, our capacity as a social group to organise ourselves and to negotiate our role and to assert our power as social actors is negligible. Maybe laughable.
Is there really a negative connotation in the letter that is specifically linked to the word "black", or is the whole narrative negative in any way other than its irreality?
Gabriel Bergevin-Estable is now following The Typepad Team
May 1, 2011