Thursday, November 06, 2008

Brian Leiter on the US election

Brian Leiter has a really great analysis of the US election results over here. It was really this kind of stuff, and not his philosophy side, that kept me going back to his blog.

Not that I disagree with his philosophical's more that his willingness to go on the offensive, and to be offensive when it came to politics, was always a breath of fresh air. He hasn't been doing as much of that lately, and I suspect an Obama presidency will further reduce these kinds of posts from him.

I suppose the loss of cheeky blog posts is rather outweighed by the massive increase in sanity in US politics, however....ah well, the give and tike of life...


Canadian Pragmatist said...

That you take philosophy and political analysis to be seperate is exactly Leiter's problem.

Philosophy is what matters to human life and to human affairs. If Leiters philosophy is not this... I wouldn't hesitate to pile him alongside all the other irrelevant philosophers we need to start moving away from.

Andrew W. said...

I guess you mean philosophically irrelevant philosopher, because he's pretty socially relevant in philosophy as a discipline.

Which was actually my point - he doesn't do philosophy on his blog, he just writes about the discipline. I don't go to his blog to read about grad school rankings but because I enjoy his political analysis. In other words, it's not as a philosopher that I read him.

If you want to find that as a fatal bifurcation between my politics and my philosophy, not much more I can say to that, except that you'll probably find a better post as evidence of that than this one.

I also wonder about your definition of philosophy and how it relates to your own practice - as you desire to bring people and their affairs back into philosophy, you're also pretty willing to cast people who may or may not agree with you aside in order to do that.

Canadian Pragmatist said...

No question. Brian Leiter is not a philosopher. I do not tolerate backwards-old-fashioned thinking, and nevertheless practice (if your style of philosophy makes it so that philosophy is irrelevant to most people's lives, I don't want you practicing my discipline). I'm not being close minded (I'm open to discuss it). I just have to draw my line in the dirt for the time being.

Writing about politics, law, economics, etc... does not do the world as great a service as if you were to actually practice any of those disciplines; that is, become a lawyer, economist/businessperson, politician, etc... As Emerson says, the arm-chair politician always knows exactly the right policies to implement. However, it's almost meaningless if you aren't an actual politician (Clniton is talking about legalizing marijuana. That is, years after he gave up the power to do so.). Aside from scaring people with his university rankings, I don't think Leiter has any more influence on the world at large (nevertheless the philosophical community, or culture). He was Rorty's student back at Princeton. It's a shame nothing of him really stuck with Leiter.

I present a whole critic of him here:

Anonymous said...

Here's some practical advice for the "Canadian Pragmatist": get some psychiatric help!

Andrew W. said...

Anon, you sound awfully really should have come up with an interesting name for yourself though.

Canadian Pragmatist, although I don't share our "anonymous" interlocutor's prescription, (at least not yet) I don't really know what we would be discussing, or disputing.

You appear to have made up your mind about both philosophy (everything) and philosophers (everyone you think is a philosopher) - there appears to be a contradiction there, but perhaps you have some kind of explanation for why philosophy is a wide open practice but only for those who practice it in a certain way, as in not the way Brian Leiter, or, I suppose a lot of other philosophers practice it.

At the same time, I don't really have a lot of interest in persuading you either way. If you don't think Brian Leiter is a philosopher, or me for that matter, it's not clear to me what kind of rhetorical strategy I could use in a blog comment to show you the error of your ways.

So I'm happy to agree to disagree with you on this.

Canadian Pragmatist said...

Based on the maxim that only what is useful to life is philosophy, Leiter is not a philosopher.

He wants to find out what the single, 'true' interpretation of Nietzsche is. This is not a goal that has been reached with any other author/philosopher and won't be reached with Nietzsche. Leiter's philosophy is a waste of time.

Andrew W. said...

Like I said, I don't have any trenchant comeback to how you feel about Brian Leiter, except that if you think Brian Leiter's philosophy is a waste of time, then I urge you to stop reading him.