Sunday, November 28, 2004

On the Criteria of Philosophical Neglect

Clarke Goble over at Mormon Philosophy has taken up my question about neglected philosophers. He asks whether C. S. Peirce, one of his favorite philosophers, is neglected. That of course raises the question as to the criteria of philosophical neglect. How does one determine whether a given philosopher suffers from neglect? Are any criteria likely to be proposed irremediably subjective?

Presumably, what is at issue here is undeserved neglect. Fridugis (d. 834), who is known only for his Letter on Nothing and Darkness, arguably merits the very darkness he wrote about and in which he is now enshrouded -- until such time as I resurrect him for a brief blogospheric appearance.

As for Peirce, I do not consider him neglected. But Josiah Royce would go on my list. The Philosopher's Index for this date shows 141 entries (books, articles, reviews) for Peirce but only 99 for Royce. This fact provides some empirical substantiation for my judgment. By contrast, William James, the third of the heroes from America's philosophical Golden Age, received 602 entries.

The unfortunate Shadworth Hodgson, however, garned only one. An obscure article published in Man and World in 1973 argues that Hodgson had an influence on Husserl. You say you have never read any Hodgson? Tsk, tsk. But, to be honest, neither have I except for leafing through a multi-volumed work of his. So I am in no position to pronounce on the question as to whether or not Hodgson's oblivion is deserved.

A commenter on Goble's post made mention of Herbert Hochberg as a candidate for neglected philosopher status. Having read quite a bit of Hochberg, I can attest that he is a very good philosopher, so good in fact that I felt it necessary to take him to task in my PTE. Is he neglected? Judgments about contemporaries are harder to make. For one thing, one would have to go through the 60 or so Hochberg citations in the Philosopher's Index and separate those Hochberg submitted from those others writing about him submitted.