Does Philosophy Need A Reboot?


Philosophy is a bit like a computer with a memory leak. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, its very success slows it down. Philosophy begins to care more about philosophers’ questions than philosophical ones, consuming increasing amount of intellectual attention. Scholasticism is the ultimate freezing of the system, the equivalent of Windows’ “blue screen of death”; so many resources are devoted to internal issues that no external input can be processed anymore, and the system stops. The world may be undergoing a revolution, but the philosophical discourse remains detached and utterly oblivious. Time to reboot the system.

That’s Luciano Floridi in a brief post at the OUP Blog, using that great analogy to argue that philosophy is needed “to make sense of the radical changes brought about by the information revolution.”

UPDATE (7/16/14): “Echoing the always popular sentiment that philosophy is ‘detached’ from something important (politics, history, life, etc.), and riding the wave of cultural optimism about information technology, this analogy sounds smart and relevant. Just what philosophy may need-–except if you have any knowledge of actual computer systems, Floridi’s analogy falls flat.” — a reply at Not Philosophy.

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