Seize the Opportunities

For a discipline that has been concerned with temporality at least since Hegel, philosophy has operated in an oddly ahistorical fashion. Philosophy of science courses overwhelmingly outnumber philosophy of technology courses, even though students today have intimate daily contact with the latter rather than the former. Logic courses are still text based rather than exploring the logic of images and video.

The perennial questions of philosophy will never pass from the scene – what would philosophy be without Plato? But without the cultivation of a more innovative and entrepreneurial academic culture–where philosophers seize the current situation and the opportunities that arise with it-philosophical research is likely to become limited to a small number of prestigious institutions that can afford the luxury of producing work of interest to only a small number of specialists.

For all the tumult surrounding ‘crisis’ there has been few philosophical attempts to understand the current situation of philosophy. This point is liable to be misunderstood, so let us be clear. Of course there is an abundant literature on the history of philosophy. And there are constant attempts (in applied philosophy, if nowhere else) at shedding philosophical light on contemporary problems of one sort or another. But these goals, worthy as they are, are entirely different from understanding the current situation of philosophy in terms of its institutional placement within society.

Philosophers make de rigueur references to the vexed relationship between the philosopher and the polis, and cite Socrates as the classic example. But where are the accounts of attempts to embed philosophy in particular contexts? Of philosophers working alongside scientists and policy makers, or engineers and marketers, in the public or private sectors? Of philosophers talking about the impacts they have had on society?