Do you think that philosophy is too wordy nowadays and what was the case

Read another response by Charles Taliaferro
Read another response about Philosophy
Do you think that philosophy is too wordy nowadays and what was the case throughout the history of philosophy? I greatly appreciate the length of the responses on this site but digesting even one paragraph can take minutes so you can imagine how frustrating it would be if every panelist decided that philosophy is also a literary exercise! A lot of times it seems philosophers especially in articles and academic books add a lot of unnecessary verbiage that total pages upon pages trying to make a stab at answering a question by leaving self-refuting riddles and asking more questions.

I suspect it will probably totally annoy you that I begin a response with a question or two: is it so bad when philosophy is practiced in a way that is a literary exercise? Some of the great philosophers from Plato to Iris Murdoch, Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir... present their philosophical reflections in the form of fictive narratives. Self-refuting riddles may be intentional and instructive: Plato's Republic and Thomas Moore's Utopia come to mind. And some of the great works of literature are forged on asking questions (look especially at Shakespeare's Hamlet; practically the whole play is in an interrogative mode, starting with the opening line), as one finds in the later work of Wittgenstein.

In any case, I complement you with your implying that the best of philosophy is not given over to "unnecessary verbiage." I agree with what I think is your impatience with what might be called jargon. Where we might disagree concerns examples. Two sources of philosophy where I have not found any unnecessary verbiage or bad examples of literary exercising (viz. using narrative skills that are not up to Murdoch's etc) or fruitless, unilluminating self-refuting riddles (viz. riddles that do not measure up to the Republic or Utopia) or the raising of uninteresting questions (unlike the provocative questions of Wittgenstein) are the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (all three editions). I think you should find both of these sources deeply satisfying. And insofar as both sites are representative of philosophy today (as I believe they are), they provide some evidence that philosophy today, in large part, is not "too wordy"....

Related Terms