April 23, 2007

Higher Order Truths about Chmess

Note: This post represents Daniel Dennett's submission to the 46th Issue of the Philosopher's Carnival.

Philosophy is an a priori discipline, like mathematics, or at least it has an a priori methodology at its core, and this fact cuts two ways. On the one hand, it excuses philosophers from spending tedious hours in the lab or the field, and from learning data-gathering techniques, statistical methods, geography, history, foreign languages. . . . ., empirical science, so they have plenty of time for honing their philosophical skills. On the other hand, as is often noted, you can make philosophy out of just about anything, and this is not always a blessing. The point of this little essay is to alert graduate students entering the field to a way in which the very freedom and abstractness of philosophy can be a weakness.