The Right Coast

April 28, 2004
Those darn philosophers
By Tom Smith

Looks like philosophy may be the next discipline where pointing out that somebody is an idiot will be too un-PC to pass. Used to be, philosophy was populated by smart, mean guys and occassional gals who would get out of the kitchen if they didn't like the heat. If somebody like Stanley Fish showed up and started talking his usual rubbish, it would be time for fish stew. But now it's time for humanistic philosophy, I guess. I can imagine. "Gender"; "difference"; let's not do metaethics, let's talk about our intuitions and our concepts. Blech. Maybe we should do Math departments next. Math is like, so gendered. Drive out the boys by boring them to death.

When it's not useless, the public service philosophy provides is largely in the destruction of bad, pernicious ideas. Humans seem to have infinite capacity to invent them. Now I am reading about the invention of the idea of the Aryan race. What an unbelievable crock, as an idea. Yet millions died for it. Philosophy, inter alia, is intellectual self defense. It's not about making people feel good, or making sure feminist intellectuals don't get their feelings hurt. Here's a question. Is it really possible to care about whether feminist intellectuals get their feelings hurt?

It's fine by me if people want to do ethics, political philosopy and social philosophy in a rigorous way, but who thinks that is the agenda? But it's not my area, and if humanistic philosophy is its future, I'm glad it's not.

UPDATE: And another thing: This rubbish about how it's "male-gendered" to have fierce, competitive arguments over technical issues, and that it would be more female-gendered to have more inclusive discussions over bigger issues, such as, whatever the soft left delusion du jour is. Here's what's female gendered. Form a club and then exclude the people you don't like from it. Yes, guys are frequently bastards. Gals are just as bad. Any guy who buys this preening feminist moral superiority baloney deserves to be bored to death. Well, maybe not. That's really cruel way to go.