The Gadfly and the Spider: Six Types of Philosophy

The Nation ran a review of Justin E.H. Smith’s book The Philosopher: A History in Six Types.

Our work gets a mention: “ Is academic philosophy in danger of withdrawing ever further into itself? Or is philosophy, in daily practice and in the academy, at a high point—accessible to more people than ever, and spilling over its disciplinary boundaries? The answer to this question, it seems, has a great deal to do with how you think about the role of philosophy historically. “The Stone” recently featured an exchange tackling this problem (too recent to be included in the Reader). In January, Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle, authors of the forthcoming Socrates Tenured, described philosophy as being quarantined, having split off from the larger society through the process of modernization; the pursuit of wisdom was “purified,” they argue, and with the rise of modern science, “knowledge and goodness were divorced.” Frodeman and Briggle are opposed to specialization and the ways in which philosophy “aped the sciences by fostering a culture that might be called ‘the genius contest.’” Their argument is in keeping with a common account of philosophy, among the other humanities, as a victim of modern science and the Enlightenment, always in defense of its existence. Smith is in this camp as well: His essay in The Stone Reader is about philosophy’s Western bias, which he locates in the connection between its elitism and its identification with modern science. ”

Read more here.