I’m about to start an unusual project here at Plato’s Footnote, one that will take several weeks to complete, and which I hope will turn out to be of general enough interest. Beginning next week, I will publish a number of posts comprising the entirety of my new book, The Nature of Philosophy: How Philosophy Makes Progress and Why It Matters. The book, on which I worked since 2012, is finally ready for prime time, and I decided to give it an unusual platform: blog serialization.
And why not? So far I have published six academic books and four aimed at a more general public, and while I have two more in the making (an academic one on “scientism” for Chicago Press and a trade book on Stoicism for Basic Books), this one is a particularly strange beast. The idea from the beginning was to aim at a dual audience, always a difficult, next to impossible enterprise, and the result is, by my own light, a mixed one. If you will track its publication over the next several weeks, you’ll see that there will be parts that are difficult to follow (if you are not an academic) or frustratingly simplistic (if you are). I’m betting, however, that in the end there will be enough tasty meat — or seitan — for both audiences to be worth their time.
I’m not sure whether a (mostly) academic book has ever been serialized before, this may actually be a first. Regardless, the unusual format will achieve two goals: first, it will likely be read by more people than would have been the case had it come out in a standard academic press edition — and for free!; second, it will be continuously reviewed, by both academic peers and generally interested readers (I will keep the discussion threads open indefinitely). Since both objectives are the very reasons why I started this blog to begin with, it seemed like a natural fit.
Meanwhile, I need to apologize to my regular readers because recurring features of this blog (like the Friday reading suggestions) will be suspended until the new project will have run its course. No worries, they’ll be back soon.
To give you an idea of what’s coming up, below is a Table of Contents with the approximate schedule of publication of each portion of the manuscript. I will add links to the actual entries as we go along, and eventually I will also make the full shebang available as a standalone pdf, downloadable here. Moreover, at any time you’ll visit the blog you will be able to find all entries pertinent to The Nature of Philosophy by clicking on the category by the same name.
I sincerely thank you for your indulgence, and I hope the dialogue will be both civilized and constructive, as it is the habit here at Plato’s Footnote. If, however, the idea is not to your liking, take a break, and I’ll see you again at the end of May!
K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy
the City College of New York
Table of Contents
Week 0 (April 1, no joke!)
Week 1 (April 4-8)
Mon: Read This First-I
Wed: Read This First-II
Week 2 (April 11-15)
Mon: Philosophy’s PR Problem-I, (Some) Scientists against philosophers
Wed: Philosophy’s PR Problem-II, Why is this happening? & Overcoming Philosophy’s PR problem: The next generation
Week 3 (April 18-22)
Mon: Philosophy Itself-I, Introduction
Tue: Philosophy Itself-II, Western vs Eastern(s) philosophies?
Wed: Philosophy Itself-III, Analytic vs. Continental?
Thu: Philosophy Itself-IV, A case study: philosophy of science vs science studies
Week 4 (April 25-29)
Mon: The Naturalistic Turn-I, Basic metaphilosophy
Wed: The Naturalistic Turn-II, Willard Van Orman Quine
Fri: The Naturalistic Turn-III, What is naturalism, anyway?
Week 5 (May 2-6)
Mon: Progress in Science-I, The obvious starting point: the Correspondence Theory of Truth
Wed: Progress in Science-II, Progress in science: some philosophical accounts
Fri: Progress in Science-III, Progress in science: different philosophical accounts
Week 6 (May 9-13)
Mon: Progress in Math and Logic-I, Progress in mathematics: some historical considerations
Tue: Progress in Math and Logic-II, History of mathematics: the philosophical approach
Wed: Progress in Math and Logic-III, Logic: the historical perspective
Thu: Progress in Math and Logic-IV, A panoply of logics
Week 7 (May 16-20)
Mon: Progress in Philosophy-I, Progress in epistemology: knowledge from Plato to Gettier and beyond
Tue: Progress in Philosophy-II, More, much more, on epistemology
Wed: Progress in Philosophy-III, Philosophy of science: forms of realism and antirealism
Thu: Progress in Philosophy-IV, Ethics: the utilitarian-consequentialist landscape
Fri: Progress in Philosophy-V, But is it useful? On the difference between chess and chmess
Week 8 (May 23-27)
Mon: Where Do We Go From Here?-I, The Experimental Philosophy challenge
Tue: Where Do We Go From Here?-II, Yet another challenge: the rise of the Digital Humanities
Wed: Where Do We Go From Here?-III, The tools of the trade
Thu: Where Do We Go From Here?-IV, What do philosophers think of philosophy?