Philosophy is useless - again

I'm in broad agreement with a) the world is made exclusively of physical stuff, but that not everything can be explained by physical law and b) we're not as transparent to ourselves as we'd like to believe. 

Eric Schwitzgebel, who has persuaded me on the second point, recently posted a piece on the place of introspection on the continuum of knowing. If empiricism increasingly poaches on a priori knowledge - and it does - the problem of experience must at some point be encountered honestly. Here Schwitzgebel defends an empirically-informed philosophy by pointing out that that process has its limits too, and by suggesting the indivisibility of experience in human life.

On this view, the empirical is no threat to philosophy. In fact, it would be nuts to develop a broad worldview without one's eyes open to the world. And although the empirical is deeply relevant to philosophy, no set of experiments could ever replace philosophy because no set of experiments could ever settle the most general questions of worldview (including, for example, the extent to which we should allow our beliefs to be governed by the results of scientific experiments). No science or set of sciences could aim at the broad vision of philosophy without thereby becoming philosophy -- becoming either bad philosophy (simplistic naturalized epistemology or cosmology, with substantial philosophical commitments simply assumed without argument and masked behind a web of scientific technicalities) or good, subtle, empirically-informed philosophy, philosophy recognizable to philosophers as philosophy.

Because I really groove on thoughtful takes on the place of introspection in the development of knowledge, some time ago I wrote a couple of posts entitled "philosophy is pointless." The post titles were sarcastic. My view now is that philosophy works best when it functions akin the arts, deploying the staggering beauty of the natural and symbolic languages along with wide-ranging human experience to develop suggestive - and sound (I hear you, Prof. Sanford Goldberg!) - questions. From that point I'm happy to leave the further development of knowledge - "justified, true, belief" - to empirical method, or to revolutionaries like Jane McGonigal.


Wikipedia: experimental philosophy