The Falsehood of Academic Philosophy

By: Shawn Alli
Posted: May 19, 2016

Full resolution jpg

 

On the surface, academic philosophy represents the pinnacle of excellence and virtue. In reality, it's an intellectual curse. Contrary to what you may think, philosophy isn't about lectures, essays or peer-reviewed philosophical articles. Generally speaking, philosophy is about enabling you and others to live a genuine/better life.

 

Dead Weight


University administrators know the truth about philosophy. It's dead weight. If university administrators had the balls, they would throw out all of their philosophy departments. They choose not to do so because they don't want to upset the status quo of the value of academic philosophy.

 

Contrary to what you may think, there's no amount of money that you can throw at philosophy and expect a gold nugget in the end. That's not how academic (fake) or real philosophy works.

 

You can't throw money at the mind-body problem, ethics, or education and expect great results. Alfred Mele's $4.4 million grant to investigate free will [1] [2] is a joke.

 

Fake philosophers


Allow me to be clear. Academic philosophers are not real philosophers. Lecturing about philosophy, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, attending philosophical seminars, or giving presentations to other academic philosophers isn't real philosophy. Real philosophy is about using philosophy as a tool to enable you and others to live a genuine/better life.

 

Oddly enough, there are real philosophers that hide behind the veil of academia. This is due to financial and economic security. Making 100K/year is easier than self-publishing books or begging in the streets. Obviously, it's more comfortable to live a life of luxury. But these philosophers are being disingenuous to themselves, university administrators, their colleagues, and their students.


 
And just in case you were wondering, Socrates wouldn't recognize academic philosophers as real philosophers. Why not? Because for him philosophy is alive. That's why Plato has to write down all of his works. The foundation of philosophy isn't the written word, it's the spoken word. By writing it down you're attempting to crystallize the knowledge (hence the long history of oral traditions in ancient societies).

 

While such things are unavoidable in the information age, real philosophy is about the spoken word. The written word is rigid, inflexible, and capable of becoming dogmatic rote learning.

 

The Philosophy Reborn Part I: Purpose book isn't meant to be a dogmatic text. It's meant to rip apart academic philosophy and act as a guide to what philosophy is really about. Everything can be questioned. Radical Dualism, Skolagi, and Skoparxism can all be ripped apart with something new rising from the ashes.

 

Science vs. Philosophy


Aside from me, academic philosophy is also under attack from scientists. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says that "philosophy is dead." [3] Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss says that:


...people in philosophy feel threatened, and they have every right to feel threatened, because science progresses and philosophy doesn't. [4]

 

That's pretty cold. How do academic philosophers react to this? It varies.

 

One notable reaction is the mainstream magic act. Academic philosophers change academic philosophy (junk lectures, peer-reviewed publishing, and seminars) into real philosophy (a method to help others live a genuine life) for mainstream media outlets. Journalists, viewers, and readers see/read the sound bites of real philosophy. After the magic act, the philosophers go back to being fake academic philosophers at their university.

 

Other philosophers aren't so clever. Some academic philosophers just garbage you to your face. They talk about how philosophy enriches the culture, and that without philosophy all intellectual development will stagnate.

 

The only question is...what are these philosophers smoking?

 

Do you know what would happen if every single philosophy department closes tomorrow? Absolutely nothing. Aside from university administrators opening bottles of champagne and having a get the f*ck out of here party, life will go on for every single university. Sadly, tenured academic philosophers won't be able to continue collecting their 100K salaries. Bring a test tube to collect the tears of philosophers. You can sell it on the black market as the philosopher's stone.

 

Some academic philosophers argue the challenge perspective. Challenge yourself by taking philosophy courses. The Atlantic has an article titled Why Study Philosophy 'To Challenge Your Own Point of View' [5].

 

Contrary to what you may think, adults don't want to challenge their own ideologies, they want to reinforce them. This is why Fox News and the Wall Street Journal dominate their liberal counterparts. People enjoy challenges, but not when it goes against their core ideologies.

 

And finally, some academic philosophers run to the ethical argument. If we don't have philosophy we won't have any ethics and society will destroy itself. Yes, academic philosophers love to be melodramatic in mainstream articles.

 

Unfortunately, the moral argument is complete garbage. Academic philosophy won't enable you to make better moral decisions or lead to a more ethical character. The results speak for themselves:


In 1977 philosopher professors Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida sign a petition that supports pedophilia. [6]


In 2012 Northwestern University philosophy professor Peter Ludlow resigns due to a sexual harassment investigation. [7]


In 2013 University of Miami philosophy professor Colin McGinn resigns due to a sexual harassment investigation. [8] [9]

 

But you don't have to take my word for it, listen to philosopher Richard Rorty (1931-2007):


...philosophical traditions did not do much to eliminate slavery, but narratives about the lives the slaves were living contributed a lot. [10]

 

Contrary to what you may think, most academic philosophers turn a blind eye to slavery, racism, and eugenics in the past. To be fair, outside of academia philosophers have little power. It's almost like broken telephone. At one point someone tells university administrators that they should have philosophy departments. When in reality, the correct message is shouldn't. But no one remembers the initial messenger so universities just go with the flow and keep them around and hope they don’t drain too much money from them.

 

Analytic vs. Continental


Both analytic and continental sub-disciplines are garbage. Philosophy isn't meant to be in one category or the other. Philosophy is merely a tool to enable you and others to live a genuine/better life.

 

But out of the two, analytic is worse because analytic philosophers see themselves as scientists. Some actually go all in and move into experimental philosophy like Jesse Prinz. It's great to have philosophers designing the studies, but utilizing the scientific method will prevent any philosophical knowledge from appearing. Analytic and experimental philosophers will interpret empirical evidence to fit their ideologies. The experiments are just a different way to reinforce their preconceived ideologies. See Philosophy Reborn Part I: Purpose to understand the problems with empirical evidence.

 

But continental philosophy is just as garbage as analytic. The core of continental philosophy isn't truth or logic, it's interpretation. Sadly, continental academic philosophers spend a greater part of their lives interpreting the works of other philosophers. They can never just accept a text as is. They have to interpret it. What is Hegel trying to say? I think Nietzsche is really saying X. Looking at it this way is probably how Heidegger wanted us to see X. Plato doesn't really mean X.

 

Academic philosophers interpreting other continental philosophers will lead to an endless amount of interpretations. Applying this to Arabian scholars, theoretical physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988) understands this nonsensical approach:

 

I thought, among other people, of the Arabian scholars of science during the Middle Ages. They did a bit of science themselves, yes, but they wrote commentaries on the great men that came before them. They wrote commentaries on commentaries. They described what each other wrote about each other. They just kept writing these commentaries. Writing commentaries is some kind of a disease of the intellect. [11]

 

Logic


While many academic philosophers covet logic as their baby, what they really mean is the ability to think rationally. Logic in philosophy (argumentation) can never prove anything...at all. You can justify racism, eugenics, slavery, and sexism all with propositional logic.

 

Logic in mathematics is the only true from of logic. Mathematicians use logic to prove or disprove a mathematical theory. There are no debates on mathematical proofs. It's either logical or not.

 

Logic in computer science (binary code) is another example of logic at its best. Computer science, like mathematics has no debates or questions about propositions. It's just cold hard logic.

 

Don't believe me about logic in philosophy? Name one ethical issue that you can use propositional logic to completely solve. Try abortion, eugenics, transgender bathrooms, prenatal screening, gene-editing...anything. The results will be the same. People will disagree on the validity of the propositions and the conclusion.

 

Students


If you're a potential undergraduate philosophy student you should reconsider your major. And I'm not saying that because there isn't much money in philosophy. If you attain the prize of tenured status your salary will be over 100K.

 

But you don't need to spend thousands of dollars in tuition for a philosophy professor to interpret Plato or Heidegger's work for you. That information already exists through books and YouTube videos.

 

And if the text is too complex for you to interpret, discard it. If a philosopher can't bother to explain their ideas/arguments in simple terms, that's their problem. If you don't understand Heidegger, f*ck him. You don't have to pay tuition for an academic philosopher to interpret him via their ideologies and perception.

 

Remember, you don't need to take academic philosophy courses to understand philosophy or even be a philosopher. Aside from being a tool, philosophy is about a state of mind, not a vocation. You don't become a philosopher when you get your Masters or PhD.

 

Contrary to what you may think, there's no such thing as being an expert in philosophy.

 

When you ask your friends why they support a particular position, you're becoming a real philosopher. When you ask yourself why you think the way you do, you're becoming a real philosopher. When you intentionally seek out your purpose in life, you're becoming a real philosopher.

 

You don't need the stamp of approval of a degree to call yourself a real philosopher. You only need to be honest with yourself. Because in the end, the disingenuous life is not worth living.

 

 

References:

[1] Marshall, Richard. The four million dollar philosopher. 3:AM Magazine. February 24, 2012.

[2] Free Will: Empirical and Philosophical Investigations. John Templeton Foundation.

[3] Warman, Matt. Stephen Hawking tells Google ‘philosophy is dead.‘ Telegraph. May 17, 2011.

[4] Andersen, Ross. Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete? Atlantic. April 23, 2012.

[5] Why Study Philosophy 'To Challenge Your Own Point of View.’ Atlantic. February 27, 2014.

[6] Henley, Jon. Call for legal child sex rebound on luminaries. Guardian. February 24, 2001.

[7] McCarthy, Ciara. Northwestern professor resigns after sexual harassment investigation. Guardian. November 3, 2015.

[8] Schuessler, Jennifer. A Star Philosopher Falls, and a Debate Over Sexism Is Set Off. New York Times. August 2, 2013.

[9] Hale, Beth. What WAS Britain's top philosopher thinking when he sent 400 racy emails to a pretty student 30 years his junior? Daily Mail. October 25, 2015.

[10] Rorty, Richard. Take Care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself: Interviews with Richard Rorty. Edited by Eduardo Mendieta. Stanford University Press. 2006. p. 67.

[11] Feynman, Richard. The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist. April 1963 lectures. Addison Wesley Longman. 1998. p. 115.