Unger Interviewed about Analytic Philosophy’s Empty Ideas

Philosophers easily get the idea that somehow or other, just by considering things about the world that they already know, they can write up deep stories which are true, or pretty nearly true, about how it is with the world. By that I especially mean the world of things that includes themselves, and everything that’s spatio-temporally related to them, or anything that has a causal effect on anything else, and so on. They think they can tell a deep story about how it is that all of this stuff really hangs together, that’s much deeper, more enlightening and more comprehensive than anything that any scientist can do.

And so philosophers proceed to write up these stories, and they’re under the impression that they’re saying something new and interesting about how it is about the world, when in fact this is all an illusion. To say new and interesting things about the world — and that’s very hard, things of any generality I mean, or even anything interesting — you really have to engage with a lot of science. And very few philosophers do any of that, at least in any relevant way.

Peter Unger is interviewed at 3 Quarks Daily about his new book. (via Philosophy Matters)

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Alan White
Alan White
9 years ago

Unger’s remarks seem like a pragmatic criticism of some philosophical work, but that of course presumes the perspective of pragmatism, which is a rich and storied tradition. So–self-refuting as criticism of philosophy? Or are we going down the skeptics’ nihilist chute refuting everything except itself?