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Why do philosophy? What is it that philosophers are trying to achieve? And what, if anything, is distinctive about philosophical ways of thinking? These are the kinds of questions that are addressed in this issue.

 

The Philosopher has always been a journal in which dialogue between academic and public philosophy is taken seriously, so in this spirit Timothy Williamson opens by offering an overview of his recent book Doing Philosophy followed by responses to four essays written by non-academic philosophers about different themes raised in his book: common sense, the nature of philosophical disputation, thought experiments, and the Enlightenment. This is then followed by extremely wide-ranging answers to the question of what it is to do philosophy from a number of academic philosophers. In these accounts, philosophy is a vocation to which the philosopher is inexorably drawn; it is motivated by hope; it is built around the art of questioning; it is constituted out of an oscillation between a desire for a God’s eye view of things and an acceptance of the necessary limits that it must face; it is both rigorous and elemental; it is broad in scope but narrow in practice. Finally, Socratic philosopher Joel Yoeli offers a handful of aphoristic insights into the central questions that motivate him as a philosopher, most of which could not be more different than those that motivate Timothy Williamson.

 

And therein lies the drama (and beauty) of doing philosophy.

Winter 2019: Doing Philosophy

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