This is Graham White's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Graham White's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Graham White
Hackney
Recent Activity
We (in Britain) do have quite a few politicians with a philosophical training, because of the Oxford degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, many of the students on which subsequently end up in politics. It does not go well: many of these people end up with a very combative, and successful, approach to argument, without any deeper insight to anchor it in. Now I also know quite a few analytic philosophers, and most of them are Not Like That At All (this may, of course, be selection bias, because the people I'm thinking of are my friends). But many of their ex-students are quite distressingly Just Like That. I don't think it has anything to do with whether people like arguing or not: I know quite a few philosophers who like a fight, but who are also full of ethical insight. The problem is rather the other way round: that if you do not have much of an ethical sense, and if you acquire awesome skills of argumentation, then you will do more harm than you would have otherwise.
There's a rather significant problem with people who are "of a healthy disposition and a mediocre intelligence", which is how we are supposed to recognise them. Intelligence comes in grades, and we can assume that the argument, on behalf of the person of mediocre intelligence, that there may be people more intelligent than them, but the people more intelligent than them are, purely because of that, deluded and thereby unfit to rule. They may themselves think that they are not intelligent enough to be deluded, but that's just a symptom of their delusion. But suppose someone of even more mediocre intelligence comes along, and says that this ruler, who claims to have mediocre intelligence, is in fact too intelligent: unaware of the fact, though, because of their delusions. So we should replace the first ruler of mediocre intelligence with the second one. There's a regress here. Of course, the problem with this conception is that it relies on "healthy disposition and mediocre intelligence" as a symptom of ability to rule; but without a good direct characterisation of the virtues which give someone ability to rule, one is liable to be trapped by rather dysfunctional indirect criteria. (Donald Trump is, I suspect, the product of a regress of the same form, but probably not one based on lack of intelligence: probably based on lack of ethics and lack of culture, or something of the sort.)
One objection to the "only publications count" position is this: that philosophy is worth doing because it provides a public good, and that public good cannot simply be publications, especially philosophy written in the modern manner (either analytic or european), because nobody reads this stuff apart from philosophers. Otherwise philosophy becomes a profession which exists purely for its own sake. There should be, at least, some positive influence of philosophy on the rest of human activity: either by percolation of philosophical ideas and methods outside the community (and how does this happen? nobody is very clear), or by simple personal contact. So, maybe Dreben's way has value (though I personally feel that, without the hard work of scholarship and writing, one's thinking is likely to become far too self-regarding).
Graham White is now following The Typepad Team
Oct 13, 2016