Saturday, August 14, 2004

Philosophy in Progress

One day in graduate school while wandering the philosophy stacks I came across Paul Weiss’ multi-volumed Philosophy in Progress. It consisted of fat tomes of jottings from his notebooks and journals. “What an ego maniac,” I thought. “Here is a guy who thinks that every thought he has is worth publishing to the world.” But isn’t that exactly what I am doing with this weblog? It is my philosophy in progress, my quotidian wrestling, at close quarters, with the ultimate conundra for my edification and delight, and perhaps for that of a few others. Of course, it is a bit more polished than notebook and journal scribbling. But then so were the volumes of Weiss. No doubt he edited while transcribing.

You could say that no trees have to die for my thoughts to live in cyberspace. On the other hand, silica has to be mined and electricity generated. So it is none too clear that there is any difference between Weiss and I – at least in point of vanity and resource-consumption. You say he is the better philosopher? Prove it! And make sure you explain your criteria. Trouble is, any criteria on offer would themselves be up for philosophical grabs. Questions about quality criteria in philosophy are themselves philosophical questions. Suppose it is said that what makes good philosophy good is social utility. That is itself a philosophical claim. Indeed, any criteriology proffered would consist of philosophical claims and arguments. This is something I should pursue -– some other time.