by Neil Rickert

Recently, my posts have been infrequent.  That’s partly, because of frustration.

Scientists often criticize philosophy.  And, when they do, philosophers retort that scientists do a lot of philosophy themselves.  That’s true.  But it misses the point that the kind of philosophy that scientists do is often very different from what analytic philosophers do.

I’ve decided to try a new track.  Instead of pointing to disagreements with analytic philosophers, I shall attempt to outline my own ideas of how philosophy should be done.  In particular, it will be a guide to how I look at the questions related to human cognition.  And then, I will contrast that with what analytic philosophers appear to be doing.  I’ve created a new category “My Philosophy” to use for these posts.

To me, the kind of philosophy that I see coming from academic philosophers resembles religion.  I sometimes think of it as the religion of the academy.  What makes it look like religion is a strong emphasis on preserving ancient traditions.

Philosophers tend to be bright people.  The posts on my philosophy will be suggesting where I might hope that they will redirect their analytical skills.

8 Responses to “Directions”

  1. Looking forward to it


  2. We come to the issue from very different angles, in some respects, but we come to very similar conclusions. The historical problem with leveraging philosophers out of intentional modes of problem-solving is primarily abductive, I think: short some alternative explanation for apparently intentional phenomena, eliminativist approaches just don’t have any horses in their intentional races. Their prescientific account of the explananda as intentional, even though empirically entirely unwarranted, means that arguing against them is rather like arguing against evangelicals. Question-begging tu quoques. Lot’s of foot-stomping. It gets frustrating, I know!

    But its the ‘baby with the bathwater’ arguments that are the most telling, I think. You need to do more than simply debunk ‘beliefs’ or any other ‘mental function,’ you need to explain their problem-solving efficacy, what function is actually being discharged, lest they presume, on the basis of any number of empirically successful scientific operationalizations, that there must be some kind of intentional baby.


    • I don’t quite agree with that.

      More specifically, intentionality should not be a problem. It is a problem, because the philosophers won’t adequately address it. They are satisfied with taking it for granted as a kind of immaterial substance, while at the same time disavowing any belief in immaterial substances.

      I agree that it is somewhat like arguing against evangelicals. Philosophy is too committed to tradition, and that makes it like a religion.

      The other problem I see, is that they are too committed to logic. But logic, by itself, is sterile. New ideas do not come from logic alone.


      • They dress their supernaturalism up in various face-saving guises to be sure, ‘irreducibility’ being their favourite idiom. I agree that intentionality shouldn’t be a problem (because there is no such thing!), but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that so many, historically or otherwise, are convinced it has to be ontologized, and that those ontologizations are in some respect *necessary.* Do you think it’s just a historical coincidence?



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