The Philosiologist has some useful information that readers of this blog may want to share with their friends and loved ones.
She describes the phenomenon:
I don’t know how many times we’ve been at a philosophy party when I wander back to my philosopher after making the rounds of conversation with other non-philosophers, I discover that he is in heated and angry-sounding discussion with other philosophers. When it’s all over, though, everyone is happy and joking and full of philosophy intoxication.
She points to the horrendous consequences:
My sister nearly threw the phone at me, in tears, and left the room. My philosopher, on the other hand, was in an absolutely superb mood.
What just happened? My sister was the unfortunate survivor of a philosopher-attack.
She offers sage advice:
Turn the conversation around on them and say something like, “I don’t really understand this problem well. Why don’t you explain to me what you think the best answer is?”
This may not work on some philosophers, but can work marvelously on arrogant (or unaware) ones. After all, it is very hard for almost every philosopher to resist the sirens’ call of “Please tell me what you think is correct in this philosophical argument,” so the more arrogant among the philosophers, who already love to talk about philosophy, will be more than happy to indulge to you what they think. Some philosophers do not fall for this trick, though.
And, most important, she offers hope:
It is also worth noting that as you get better about redirecting philosopher-attacks, you might be able to train your philosopher to not be so thirsty for blood when she/he enters into philosophical discussion with you. Philosophers, like other humans, can be trained effectively, if you are patient.
Wayne Schroeder says
“Every philosopher runs away when he or she hears someone say, ‘Let’s discuss this.’ Discussions are fine for roundtable talks, but philosophy throws its numbered dice on another table. The best one can say about discussions is that they take things no farther, since the particpants never talk about the same thing. Of what concern is it to philosophy that someone has such a view, and thinks this or that, if the problems at stake are not stated? And when they are stated, it is not longer a matter of discussing but rather one of creating concepts for the undiscussable problem posed. Communication always comes too early or too late, and when it comes to creating, conversation is always superfluous. Sometimes philosophy is turned into the idea of a perpetual discussion, as ‘communication rationality,’ or as ‘universal democratic concersation.’ Nothing is less exact, and when philosophers criticize each other it is on the basis of problems and on a place that is different from theirs and that melt down the old concepts in the way a cannon can be melted down to make new weapons. It never takes place on the same plane. To criticize is only to establish that a concept vanishes when it is thrust into a new milieu, losing some of its components, or aquiring others that tranform it. But those who criticize without creating, those who are content to defend the vanished concept without being able to give it the forces it needs to return to life, are the plague of philosophy.. All these debaters and communicators are inspired by ressentiment. The speak only of themselves when they set empty generalizaitons against one another. Philosophy has a horror of discussions. It always has something else to do. Debate is unbearable to it, but not because it is too sure of itself. On the contrary, it is inits uncertainties that take it down other, more solitary paths. But in Socrates was philosophy not a free discussion among friends? Is it not, as the conversation of free men, the summit of Greek sociability? In fact, Socrates constantly made all discussion impossible, both in the short form of the context of questions and answers and in the long form of a rivalry between discourses. He turned the friend into the friend of the single concept, and the concept into the pitiless monologue that eliminates rivals one by one. – Deleuze, What is Philosophy, 1994
Nicholas Joll says
This is useful stuff. However – and as is the case with many a web-page (but sanity is not statistical) – the contrast on the page is too low; many people will struggle to read the text. The remedy is simple (at least if one does not go the whole hog and use a ‘dark theme’): makes the black darker!
Also, though: isn’t this text excepted from a longer one that says – accurately enough – that the philosopher does not really mean to be aggressive?