Empty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy by Peter K. UngerPeter Ungers provocative new book poses a serious challenge to contemporary analytic philosophy, arguing that to its detriment it focuses the predominance of its energy on empty ideas.
In the mid-twentieth century, philosophers generally agreed that, by contrast with science, philosophy should offer no substantial thoughts about the general nature of concrete reality. Leading philosophers were concerned with little more than the semantics of ordinary words. For example: Our word perceives differs from our word believes in that the first word is used more strictly than the second. While someone may be correct in saying I believe theres a table before me whether or not there is a table before her, she will be correct in saying I perceive theres a table before me only if there is a table there. Though just a parochial idea, whether or not it is correct does make a difference to how things are with concrete reality. In Ungers terms, it is a concretely substantial idea. Alongside each such parochial substantial idea, there is an analytic or conceptual thought, as with the thought that someone may believe there is a table before her whether or not there is one, but she will perceive there is a table before her only if there is a table there. Empty of import as to how things are with concrete reality, those thoughts are what Unger calls concretely empty ideas.
It is widely assumed that, since about 1970, things had changed thanks to the advent of such thoughts as the content externalism championed by Hilary Putnam and Donald Davidson, various essentialist thoughts offered by Saul Kripke, and so on. Against that assumption, Unger argues that, with hardly any exceptions aside from David Lewiss theory of a plurality of concrete worlds, all of these recent offerings are concretely empty ideas. Except when offering parochial ideas, Peter Unger maintains that mainstream philosophy still offers hardly anything beyond concretely empty ideas.
Peter Unger argues that fundamental claims in contemporary metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind are just empty ideas. During the middle of the twentieth century, perhaps until , mainstream philosophers generally agreed that, by contrast with the natural sciences, intellectually responsible philosophy should offer no substantial thoughts about the general nature of concrete reality. As many mainstream philosophers now would agree, those were the bad old days. But, for a philosophy that aims to be highly relevant to concrete matters and issues, is there really any alternative? For my critique of recent philosophy to have much point, there had better be.
Philosophy: you either get it or you don't. The field has its passionate defenders, but according to its critics, philosophy is irrelevant, unproductive, and right at the height of the ivory towers. And now, the philosophy-bashing camp can count a proud defector from the other side: Peter Unger, Professor of Philosophy at New York University, has come out against the field in his latest book, Empty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy. Unger has written extensively over the course of his career on various philosophical topics, and his best-known writings include Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism and Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence As a no-holds-barred critique of mainstream analytic philosophy, Empty Ideas is a continuation of Unger's signature provocative style. As a former student of his, I spoke to Unger in late May about Empty Ideas , his thoughts on the value of philosophy, Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, David Lewis, and the difference between philosophy, crystal healing and self-help the answer: nothing that important. Hi, Peter.
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the truth about the amish
During the mid-twentieth century, philosophers generally agreed that, by contrast with the natural sciences, philosophy should offer no substantial thoughts about the general nature of concrete reality. - Bad news: much of what you say as a philosopher is concretely empty. Yes, you, even if you do not work in metaphysics: Peter Unger's target is 'mainstream philosophy' of the past fifty years and, whilst he sets aside wholly normative claims, he makes plain their prospects are also dim