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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Michael Johnson on RAW, natural law and philosophy

Michael Johnson's latest piece, "Are We Living in a Robert Anton Wilson Novel?" seems tailor-made for readers of this blog, so I'll send you over there and invite you to join me in making comments. But I will put in an additional comment. Johnson argues that RAW did what a couple of philosophers he references, Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse, have called for: Bridging the gap between philosophers and intelligent laymen. When I read that, I wondered if Michael had read a charming novel I came across years ago, Sophie's World, a novel that's about the history of philosophy.


michael said...

He says he has not read Sophie's World, but it's now in his Top Five Novels To Get To ASAP list.

He also wonders about people who write about themselves in third-person: they seem to be hiding something? He could be stoned. Or ill. Maybe it's just Illeism?

I wonder if there is a gap or many to bridge between what academic philosophers are about these days? When we talk about a public philosophy, could the philosophers that Aikin and Talisse wish to call forth simply need to dispense with specialist jargon? At what "level" of writing is the public philosophy too difficult? Can humor and other techniques such as dialogue be used effectively to convey the as-yet unbridged knowledge from academic philosophy?

I wish these guys had been more specific. Does Harry Frankfort's brilliant and short best-seller On Bullshit count as something they want? Surely they don't mean one of those books like Seinfeld and Philosophy?

I thought Jack Bowen's If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers was sorta what the public OUGHT to want, but do they? How to be someone with a PhD and having specialized in some chapter by Kant, come up with something so available and interesting they say "goes viral"?

Or maybe the Novel of Ideas is already here, has been here since the 19th century, and it's what the 15%-23% of the public who WOULD be interested in philosophical ideas already gravitate toward? Science fiction? Ian McEwan? A.S. Byatt? David Foster Wallace? Etc..?

Eric Wagner said...

I like this neuroblogging. (You blogged about Mike's blog about your blog.) Perhaps his blog about Bach a while ago got us all thinking contrapunctually.

Keep up the great work!