On Hating and Despising Philosophy


Bernard Williams in the LRB reprinted in Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002. An update, see: The London Review of Books.

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As long as there has been such a subject as philosophy, there have been people who hated and despised it.

I do not want to exaggerate, in a self-pitying or self-dramatising way, the present extent or intensity of this dislike; I am not thinking of the philosopher as emblematically represented by the figure of Socrates, the martyr to free thought who reaches what the pious or conventional regard as the wrong answer. Nor do I suppose that philosophers are often seen as politicians are in Australia, where that profession (I was once told) is regarded as much like that of nightsoil workers. Still less are they like American lawyers, notoriously considered powerful, ubiquitous and horrible.

Few people, after all, think about philosophers much, and some of those who do may…

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One comment on “On Hating and Despising Philosophy

  1. Anita Michels says:

    This is interesting and relevant discourse… I encounter negative feedback frequently when I simplify or reframe intentions and underlying goals in child welfare work that I do. This makes many uncomfortable and seemingly defensive. I avoid personalizing things but raise the big picture and how it translates into the details-or not. The challenge is that the obvious need and “help” is often missed or pushed aside without proper reflection, and deconstructing approaches to problem solving and methodologies. “We” are expected to be “assembly workers.” The important thing is to make philosophy alive again not necessarily for its own sake but by contributing value and the “essential, missing thing” when you’re not expected to… by being intentional, by telling stories again, (when appropriate), and taking the time to verbally, “show your work” with true, honest consideration and thoughtful logic, when it comes to business and navigating life.

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