The aim of this site is to incite you, dear reader, to that love of wisdom professed in the name ‘philosopher’. On this page, you will find posts highlighted to this end, organized by category.
About my posts – This post provides a general introduction to the posts on the site, as part of a broader consideration of the relative strengths and weaknesses of different genres for philosophy.
2 Metaphysics and the nature of philosophy
The posts of this section form, in a sense, the core of this blog, and represent the kind of work I think the blog post best suited for: delving anew into the central questions of and about philosophy in all their breadth and depth, in ways more specialized literature can’t. The posts of this section divide into two groups: 1) those concerning the nature and shape of philosophy itself; and 2) those engaged in philosophical questioning on familiar topics.
2.1 What is philosophy?
Being, judgment, and the shape of a philosophical question – describes the shape of contemporary metaphysics via an examination of the questions it asks, and contrasts it with a more fundamental understanding found in the questioning of figures like Aristotle, providing a brief, accessible introduction to what metaphysics can be.
On the origin of the distinction between the philosopher and the poet – this post may be thought of as a sequel to ‘Being, judgment, and the shape of a philosophical question.’ Where the latter places philosophy today in the light of its prior historical manifestations, this post provides a more complete consideration of philosophy as such: i) distinguishing it from modern poetry, and ii) showing its separation from – and relation to – the religious poetry found in, for instance, Hebrew Wisdom literature and the Tao Te Ching.
On the genesis of new philosophical subdisciplines – shows how both core and auxiliary philosophical disciplines arise today, with special attention drawn to their relation to metaphysics.
Being and structure – This post contrasts the aims and motivations of Aristotle’s hylomorphism with those animating contemporary hylomorphists, in order to highlight a difference between ancient and contemporary metaphysical inquiry.
2.2 Philosophical investigations
3 Topical pieces
Like the posts of the previous section, those here aim to bring the reader to a broader and deeper understanding of being. They differ from those above, however, in having some particular thinker, situation, or event as their point of departure. I list them below, starting from more specific topics and moving to broader ones. The sections are: 1) on particular thinkers and ideas; 2) on the university and academic life; 3) on contemporary life and society.
3.1 On philosophers and their ideas
On private language and the genesis of “the literature” – This remains one of my favorite posts. Here, I take Wittgenstein’s claim about the impossibility of a private language as the starting point for a discussion of what language is, while also explaining the importance of Wittgenstein’s claim for understanding the character of academic literary production.
The philosopher as midwife and Aristophanes’ immanent critique of immanent critique – On Aristophanes’ critique of Socrates in the Clouds. Argues that Socrates and his philosophy, rather than that of the Sophists, were the genuine targets of Aristophanes’ critique. Furthermore, Aristophanes accurately highlights a constitutive limitation in philosophical method, one that has remained present from its antiquity to today.
Faith seeking understanding: a taxonomy – On recent scholarship on Anselm of Canterbury, and what it says about how far our understanding of faith and understanding appears to be from characteristically medieval ways of understanding the two.
3.2 On academia and the university
Some remarks on the abstract and its place within the world of academic writing – The first post on this site, written while I was still early in my Ph.D. program. The essay takes the abstract as a prism for understanding shifts in the world and writing of academia.
On the future of research in the history of philosophy – featured in Philosophers’ carnival 178 (August 2015). I divide research in the history of philosophy into two dominant paradigms, arguing that neither captures the historicity of that history. I then provide an analysis of this historicity, hinting at what history of philosophy can be.
Some thoughts on program rankings and philosophical method – featured in Daily Nous’ heap of links when it was first published. Provides a different perspective on the debate over whether and how philosophical programs should be ranked with respect to each other.
Continental philosophy: ‘working in’ and ‘working on’. – explains how hiring practices in continental philosophy systematically undercut the most essential insights of the continental tradition. Though I did not realize it at the time, the post does much to explain why I moved away from work on continental philosophy, despite the impact a number of continental figures have had on my thinking.
The Culture of the Manuscript and Manuscript Culture: A Case Study – for medievalists and those who work with manuscripts. Looks at shifts in the questions of manuscript research as themselves representing shifts in the aims of manuscript research as such.
3.3 On life, culture, and society
On the loss of unity in contemporary life – one of the earliest posts on this blog, this one explains why today’s society leaves us so remarkably disconnected from others and our surroundings.
Multiculturalism and the death of the subculture – On the topic of diversity. Argues that the ends aimed at by modern multiculturalism are impeded by the very means often chosen to achieve them.