Why (I) Do Philosophy | Who Shaves the Barber? #21

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Philosophy’s an odd practice. It can be abstract, technical, and complicated to the point of appearing incomprehensible; and the generality of the subject matter can make it seem like it isn’t really about anything at all. It certainly doesn’t seem to make a great deal of progress over time. So why the hell does anyone do it?

Here I propose three main reasons I think people do philosophy: competitive craftsmanship, scientific inquiry, and spirituality. The first breaks down into two subcategories – craftsmanship and competition – as does the second – curiosity and improving the world. Just how does philosophy satisfy each of these needs? Do people really pursue philosophy in order to satisfy them? And can they actually be satisfied by philosophy? I conclude with some words about how these apply to why I’m pursuing philosophy (eg, doing this podcast), and specifically why I’m not pursuing academic philosophy.



Next week: Michael Zigismund: Philosophy of Law
Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro: why do I do philosophy?
3:44 – What is philosophy?
9:03 – What sort of question is “why do philosophy?”?
14:04 – Three reasons: competitive craftsmanship, scientific inquiry, spirituality
14:26 – Competitive craftsmanship: philosophy as art or game
15:51 – Arguments
18:30 – Virtues of competition
25:08 – Carry-over benefits
26:46 – The rules of the game applied to the rules of the game: self-reference, regress, form become content, grounding
34:12 – Creation v. discovery (art v. science)
35:51 – Objections to philosophy as scientific inquiry
50:48 – Can we improve the world with philosophy?
56:16 – Spirituality
1:03:43 – Summing up
1:08:55 – Why not academia?

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