Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

PI Editorial. Wed May 29
by Lindsay Perigo

A highly talented young writer & philosophy student, Jason Brennan, variously describing himself as "Future PhD from Top 8 American Program in Analytic Philosophy," & a "reformed Objectivist," has defended anaytic philosophy & taken me to task for my comments about it on the SOLO site. He comes with me part of the way, saying, "I agree that modern philosophers don't understand the importance of their field. They're emotionally detached from the world. Partly it's because the analytics see themselves as scientists that must remain emotionally neutral so as not to cloud their judgement. Partly it's for other less positive reasons." Actually, I don't regard remaining "emotionally neutral" about the issues philosophy deals with as "positive" at all. That's a Mr. Spock view of philosophy which is a perfect example of the reason/passion dichotomy that SOLO exists, in part, to counter.

Jason says, " ... my criticisms of Objectivism as a 'reformed Objectivist' are that it's too relative and subjective and thus self-defeating if carried to its logical ends." I don't know how "relative & subjective" something has to be to be TOO relative & subjective, nor do I know how Objectivism is self-defeating if carried to its logical ends. Jason refers to an earlier post, whose content I've forgotten as I write this. The comments I wanted to address briefly here are these:

"Disagree with an Objectivist and you'll either be excommunicated, told you're going to philosophical hell, told you're evil, or told you're anti-reason. The last label is particularly ironic. ... Walter Kaufman [sic] once said (in his Critique of Religion and Philosophy) that the difference between a philosopher and a theologian is that the former searches for truth regardless of where it leads, and the latter starts with an idea of what is true and defends it at all costs, even against reality. Objectivists have a tendency to be closer to the latter than the former."

These criticisms are scarcely new - nor are they unfounded. TOC was a rebellion against the above tendencies; so too, in part, is SOLO. Jason's observations would be more complete if he acknowledged that. But the answer to this sort of dogmatism is not another type which enjoins, at least implicitly, that the function of philosophy is endless nitpicking devoid of conclusions & militantly devoid of moral judgement. It is that view of philosophy that has rendered it useless, & led some of its practitioners openly to PROCLAIM that it's useless. For examples, see my editorial in the upcoming Free Radical.

Anger born of religiosity is a sad spectacle. Anger born of exasperation with perverse, perverted pedantry is legitimate; indeed, it's the absence of such anger that's a sad spectacle.

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