Feral Philosophers!

Something noteworthy from The New York Times, this morning: a call by Steve Neuman, a self-described philosophy journalist, to “Free the Philosophical Beast.”

I have nothing much to add to it, but wish simply to point out a few highlights.

One concerns the reason it is so difficult to engage in meaningful philosophical work in the context of a research university:

But I think the key difference between science and philosophy is that we need the results of science more than we need everyone in the body politic “doing science.” By contrast, we need everyone “doing philosophy” more than we need the results of philosophy. In other words, we don’t need to know or understand how the scientist has gone from the minute molecular intricacies of DNA to a public good like genetic counseling. On the other hand, the emulation of the critical thinking and logical argument of a philosopher is a virtue that can be applied to any area of life — from where you stand on the most important social and political issues of the day to how best to spend the rest of your days on this planet.

Another highlight is the closing passage, which resonates with me in my current ventures in ethics education and in the very conception of this blog as a set of “field notes”:

So “powerful, soft strides” toward the reintroduction of the philosophical beast are being made outside the academy, but I would like to see even more philosophers become feral. Being feral is different from being wild, of course — the philosophical beast that still calls the academy its home just needs a wider space in which to roam, and maybe venture more often outside its walls.

Just let me put on some sturdier shoes.

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