Fish weighs in

ravi gadfly at
Tue Oct 16 06:24:37 PDT 2001

Mina Kumar wrote:

>> From: ravi <gadfly at>
>> Mina Kumar wrote:
>>>> Condemnation Without Absolutes
>>>> CHICAGO -- During the interval between the terrorist attacks and the
>>>> United States response, a reporter called to ask me if the events of
>>>> Sept. 11 meant the end of postmodernist relativism. It seemed bizarre
>>>> that events so serious would be linked causally with a rarefied form
>>>> of academic talk.

>>> What a bizarre understanding of the purpose of philosophy.
>> i dont understand your response. whose understanding of the purpose of
>> philosophy do you can call bizarre? fish's?
> I think it's bizarre that he thinks it bizarre that serious events
> should be related to philosophical speculation.

but thats not what he says. he says its bizarre that serious events are linked causally to a particular rarefied form of academic talk.

i cannot disagree with that. you may believe that philosophical

thinking about how to live in the world should be carried out first and then the answers applied to the act of living, but is that anywhere true? what influence did postmodern thought have on bin laden and others, or on the nature of the american response? otoh, i can see the reasoning behind the reporter's question. popular sentiment towards simplistic unilateral and righteous response in the wake of 9/11 could well drive in the last nail into the coffin (constructed and kept alive by certain elements of the scientific and conservative community) for all form of relativistic thought.

>> what do *you* think is the purpose of philosophy?
> Too upset over other things to recall the apt quote from Plato, but uh,
> you know, to like think aobut the right way to live in the world.

ah plato! but really: perhaps plato, the osama-like cave dwelling sheltered boy wonder, might have thought the world should be ruled by philsophers, but what influence, in the real world does abstract philosophy have on immediate events? why, if i remember right, richard rorty, the darling of american philosophy, has even recommended that philosophy departments have lost their purpose and philosophers should be distributed to various other departments to function in some kind of advisory capacity within the confines of the thought of that group.


ps: of course rorty is called a relativist, but if its evidence from the opposing camp that is needed, then one need look no further than what seems to be the anti-intellectualism of feynman who is supposed to have called philosophers "second rate thinkers".

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