Monday, February 25, 2008

Ayer and Quine: Any Questions?

The material now is getting a little complicated so it might be helpful to adopt a procedure the instructor of a class on (the notoriously complicated) Kant I took in grad school tried. In addition to asking questions during class discussion he suggested that we write questions as we read and submit them in advance for discussion in class.

As I was re-reading Quine I thought: what a good idea! So...if you have questions or comments, please comment on this message board and/or submit them to me in writing prior to the class at which you want to discuss them.

Even if you don't want to submit them, formulating questions as you read is also helpful in understanding what's going on!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What is Philosophy?

We talked about today. Here's an interesting discussion from Brian Leiter's blog:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Doing Philosophy

One question on Tuesday was, "What do the discussions of the external world an the mind-body problem have to do with the current discussion of the Russell-Strawson debate?"

As I said, not much of anything. However on reflection I think this needs further elaboration because it has to do with how many analytic philosophers, including me, understand philosophy.

We don't see it as the business of developing "a philosophy" or coming up with a grand unified theory of everything. Philosophy is just a collection of puzzles. Some of the classic puzzles are: the problem of perception and the external world, the mind-body problem, the problem of what there is, and so on. There may be some connections between the solutions we adopt to these various puzzles (and we'll talk about that) but then again lots of these puzzles are just independent of one another.

In any case, as a matter of procedure, we're just looking at these puzzles independently, playing with them, assessing the arguments for various proposed solutions.