The Gray Lady Does the Gay Science
May 16, 2010

Well, not specifically the Nietzsche book, but philosophy in general. And no, it doesn’t really have anything to do with GLBT anything, person who clicked over from Twitter or Facebook thinking that was what I was writing about. Gotcha!

To be more specific, the Times just started a series of blog posts about philosophy from various academic philosophers. Brian Leiter, who I suppose you could call academic philosophy’s foremost new media ambassador, is unimpressed.

Now I can’t comment on his allegations of hackery against Simon Critchley, writer of the series’ first entry, but I can say that the entry didn’t do a whole lot for me, and did not, I think, come close to adequately explaining what philosophy is. Will Durant has a far more succint definition on the first page of his excellent history, The Story of Philosophy:

[...] philosophy will again be understood as the synthetic interpretation of all experience rather than the analytic description of the mode and process of experience itself. Analysis belongs to science, and gives us knowledge; philosophy must provide a synthesis for wisdom.

All of that being said, I’ve got high hopes for the series. I’ve argued again and again that philosophy is a fundamental human endeavor; everyone does it, and the more they understand what it is they’re doing, the better. Kudos to the Times for even attempting to spread some understanding.

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