What is Philosophy? What I have Learned and Unlearned during my Career
Nicholas Capaldi

June 29, 2023, 12:00pm - 2:00pm

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What have We learned from the history of philosophy? First, that philosophy (and all intellectual/cultural activity) has a history and cannot be understood apart from its history- something we did not understand until the 18th-century; Second, there are basic recurrent errors of philosophical practice: along with certain recurrent basic questions there are questions that we do not know honestly how to answer or whether we have asked them in the proper manner; that we keep ‘reinventing the wheel’ using new terminology (recurrent patterns of answers); that the very ambition to understand everything or what is basic in some sense requires knowledge from other fields; there are philosophical charlatans.    

What have I learned about philosophy: it is the ambitious comprehensive Western practice; that it involves the ongoing explication of the inherent norms of our other practices; that religion, science, ethics, politics, commerce, and art are central practices; that understanding my role as explicator does not automatically translate into being a competent explicator.   

Specific things I have learned:  our present science may not be the best/definitive science; that there is no such thing as social science; why Plato’s analysis of politics is still relevant; why Hegel is in one sense the last great philosopher; the importance of the 19th-century; the floundering of the 20th-century; my hopes for the 21st-century.

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