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Philosophical Frauds, Partisan Fools and Confidence Tricksters

October 6, 2021

Some of the reasons philosophy has fallen into disrepute as a creditable intellectual exercise are encapsulated in the above phrases as I will now explain.

A genuine thinker, as we are aware of from the times of Socrates, is someone who is prepared to question any of his premises and accept that perhaps at the end of the day he does not know anything for sure. In contrast the academic philosopher of the 20th century, and perhaps, but hopefully not so much anymore, in the 21st century, sees it as his purpose to dogmatically commit to some set of premises and spend the rest of his career as a partisan member of the premises this philosophical school of thought believes in, engaging in various convoluted logical attempts to defraud its listeners and audience with the certainty of its premises with a combination of tricks of distraction away from the weaknesses in their basic premises alongside exhibiting a misplaced confidence in these same premises.

The insight came to me today while reading a scientists account of quantum theory alongside a philosophers account. The scientist, David Bohm, illustrating tentativeness in his ontological commitments and full awareness of the limitations of some of his premises when taken to the extreme. While, the philosopher, who will go unnamed, partly to not make this a personal attack, but also as it could apply to most academic philosophers in the way they argue most subjects these days unfortunately, illustrates a desire to commit to an ontological position with no awareness of the limitations of some of his premises and sees his whole purpose to be to use all the logical and rhetorical means at his disposal to convince us to believe in the same groundless premises that he does.

True philosophising here has been illustrated by the scientist, and it is a shame that many philosophers devalue what should be the core of their practice, namely genuine critical thinking, in favour of playing favourites with partisan schools of thought and getting caught up in thoughtless petty arguments and never-ending technical debates and trench warfare with other partisan schools of thought to try and win a futile ego battle, while refusing to take a moment to genuinely self reflect on the weaknesses and limitations of their own premises.

So the next time a philosopher tells you he has a watertight philosophical argument or seems convinced of some ontological premises and proceeds to try and bamboozle you with a stream of logical and rhetorical devices, know that he is most likely abusing his trade to do something that couldn’t be much further from the kind of well considered and honest critical thinking that Socrates once laid out all that time ago for the philosophical discipline.

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