G Talks Back to Against Professional Philosophy; and Images of Some of Our Favorite Women Philosophers.

A Conversation Between G and Z

Mr Nemo
7 min readDec 20, 2017

Originally published 3 December 2015

APP Editors’ note: G is a full-time adjunct lecturer in philosophy at a public university somewhere in North America.

G: Here are some some biased and unreflective comments about APP because, as you know, most of us just don’t have much time.

1. The pages don’t load properly — long wait and had to reload several.

2. Relatedly, be more brief. OMG, the article on analytic/contintental nearly did me in.

3. How does one comment? There may be a place, but it wasn’t at the end of the very long article that I wanted to respond to. Do you really want to involve people or is your anarchy limited to yourselves?

4. Here is the response I wanted to give: Sellars is not an example of scientism because he did not advocate science to the exclusion of other ways of thinking. Science is the measure of all things relevant to empirical reality. But, as the SEP article on Sellars clearly explains:

Sellars does not believe, for instance, that describing and explaining are the only “dimensions” of linguistic activity. Prescribing, evaluating, and negotiating are equally indispensable dimensions of language use in which science is not privileged. It is science’s job to limn the structure of empirical reality, the causal nexus within which we live, but, as his own call for a “synoptic vision” that unites a science-generated picture of empirical reality with “the language of community and individual intentions” indicates, Sellars would never hold that all our questions are to be settled by scientific investigations.

I would have thought a fan of Rorty would realize that Sellars is a worthy source of philosophical insight.

My reason to defend Sellars is the mischaracterization of Sellars applies to the way many analytic philosophers, including myself, view science: essential to understanding the physical world and our place in it, yet in need of insights from ethics, social theory, literature, etc. in order to use the consequent knowledge responsibly.

If you agree that criticism is the highest form of compliment, then I trust you recognize that I wouldn’t waste my precious few moments of free time with this critique unless I thought it would be valuable to you. Philosophy could use some anarchy, and frankly, so could APP.

Z: Many thanks! for your critical comments, which we totally understood in the friendly way they were intended.

Re 1: Most of the time everything works fine, but I’m sorry to hear that it was running slowly when you looked.

Re 2: Yes, we write longer and more thoughtful essays. That’s only one of the ways we’re different from the other blogs. No one in professional academic philosophy has enough time for anything. That’s one of the many problematic issues.

Re 3: You can comment directly by writing us. We’re anarchists!, but also reflective ones who like to have a chance to think before we reply. Also we’re totally happy to publish comments that are generated in a more conversational setting.

Re 4: I agree that Sellars is a complex, debatable case. He’s a classic scientific naturalist on the one hand; but he also wants fairly robust normativity on the other. And I’m not convinced these are consistent aims. But at least some of what he says does sound amazingly scientistic….

Anyhow, I absolutely agree that Sellars is a worthy source of philosophical insight. I’ve used him lots in my non-APP work.

One small point about the kind of anarchism we’re committed to. It’s non-coercive existential Kantian cosmopolitan anarchism, hence a version of social anarchism, neither “anarchy in the UK”/Sex Pistols kind, nor revolutionary Bakunin-style.

(Not that I don’t like punk rock–I do, lots, especially the early Clash, but just that we’re not merely “lifestyle anarchists.”)

We think that the political authority claimed by states and state-like institutions, backed up by coercive power, is rationally unjustified and immoral; we think everyone ought freely to reject and exit all states and state-like institutions in order to create and belong to a universal cosmopolitan community, and also create and belong to many overlapping sub-communities, all based on respect for human dignity and autonomy, and on mutual aid and kindness; and we also think that everyone should be freely pursuing a robust collective and personal enlightenment project (Sapere aude!, along with an existentialist ideal of authenticity) of some or another uniquely expressive shape, provided it meets the requirements of respect for human dignity and autonomy.

So there’s another wall of text! But the point is that the anarchism we believe in is, in effect, a fusion of Kant, Kierkegaard, and Kropotkin.

–With some Schiller and early Marx thrown in too, but I won’t bore you even more with that stuff….

In any case, that’s all totally consistent with our wanting not to have unrestricted commenting on the APP site without a chance to think about our readers’ comments and reply appropriately….

G: Given the destructive potential of trolls, it is reasonable to screen posts prior to online publishing. Afterward you can take as long as you like to reflect on an appropriate reply.

It just seems to be counter to the idea that each person in a community should have equal power/responsibility, to require an email exchange.

If this conversation is supposed to be for/with the community, it should take place on the website for everyone to see and potentially join.

But then, I’m not a great fan of Kant, don’t know Kropotkin, and Kierkegaard depresses me. I like Emma Goldman’s anarchism.

Which is another thing — some images of women would be a nice addition…

Z: Yes, I think we actually implicitly agree then about APP’s posting policy. In effect, by giving us some time for reflection on an appropriate reply, we’re screening posts prior to online publishing.

Also, we don’t require an e-mail exchange before publishing posts, we just prefer, other things being equal, to have some philosophical conversation along with publishing posts, because that seems most in line with the robust enlightenment philosophical project that drives APP.

No worries at all! about having no philosophical affinity with Kant or Kierkegaard.

But I think you might like Kropotkin. You could start with his famous Encyclopedia Britannica article on anarchism, his Memoirs of a Revolutionist, or Mutual Aid.

But in any case we’re also big philosophico-political fans of Emma Goldman!, which is why her work is posted on our Real Philosophy page.

Relatedly, here are images of some of our favorite women philosophers, in no particular order:

the political philosopher, Hannah Arendt

the philosopher-logician, Ruth Barcan Marcus

the existentialist philosopher, Hazel Barnes

the existentialist philosopher-novelist, Simone de Beauvoir

the philosopher of mind, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia

the philosopher of mind, Ruth Garrett Millikan

the political philosopher, anarchist, and political activist, Emma Goldman

the philosopher of logic, knowledge, and science, Susan Haack

the philosopher-novelist, Iris Murdoch

the Kantian ethicist and political philosopher, Onora O’Neill

the Kantian philosopher and conceptual artist, Adrian Piper

the philosopher-poet and political activist, Muriel Ruckeyser

the philosopher of mind and metaphysician, Lynne Rudder Baker

the philosopher-novelist, Mary Shelley

the existential phenomenologist and martyr, Edith Stein

the philosopher of mind and metaphysician Helen Steward

the existentialist philosopher, political activist, and mystic, Simone Weil

and the political philosopher, Mary Wollstonecraft



Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, and Z, Wednesday 20 December 2017

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Mr Nemo

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.