Six Studies in The Decline and Fall of Professional Academic Philosophy, And A Real and Relevant Alternative, #9–Conclusion, & The Next Step.

Mr Nemo
4 min readApr 18, 2022

By Robert Hanna

“The Death of Socrates By Means of The American Philosophical Association,” by Q (2013), after “The Death of Socrates,” by Jacques-Louis David (1787)

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There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live. To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates…. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically. (Thoreau, 1957: p. 9)

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ABSTRACT

Contemporary professional academic philosophy is careerist, conformist, coercive-&-authoritarian within its own social-institutional sphere, dogmatic, esoteric, hyper-specialized, and above all, irrelevant to the true needs of the rest of humanity outside the professional academy, even to the point of being fundamentally at odds with those needs. Although, as Kant, Schopenhauer, Thoreau, and Dewey all pointed out, these problems have been perennial since the emergence of professional academic philosophy in the 18th and 19th centuries–“there are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers” (Thoreau)–they have currently reached their final crisis stage. To demonstrate this, I present six short studies in the decline and fall of 20th and 21st century professional academic philosophy, describing the going-down of post-classical Analytic philosophy–together with its social-institutional Other, so-called “Continental philosophy”–into the ash-heap of history, with social justice theorists and identitarian multiculturalists coercively-&-moralistically presiding over its cognitive collapse and suicide. But all is not lost. I also present an alternative model of philosophy–which I call “life-shaping philosophy”–that’s (i) real, i.e., authentic and serious, pursuing and practicing philosophy as a full-time, lifetime calling, as sharply opposed to its being job-oriented, half-hearted, and Scholastically superficial, (ii) fully relevant-to-humanity by virtue of its being intellectually, morally, and politically autonomous, critical, collaborative, and creative, and that (iii) not only can but should be pursued and practiced outside the professional academy.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Introduction

II. On the Meaning and Use of the Terms “Analytic Philosophy” and “Continental Philosophy”

III. The Question That Quine Refused To Answer

IV. Analytic Metaphysics as a Copernican Devolution in Philosophy

V. Conceptual Engineering Debunked and Replaced

VI. Social Justice Theory and The Paradox of Distributive Social Justice

VII. Eminent Identitarians: Social Justice Theory, Identitarian Multiculturalism, and Moral Fanaticism

VIII. A Real and Relevant Alternative: Life-Shaping Philosophy

IX. Conclusion [& The Next Step]

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You can also download and read or share a .pdf of the complete text–including the BIBLIOGRAPHY–of this essay HERE.

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IX. Conclusion [& The Next Step]

Therefore, the answer to this question — is [The Theory of Thought-Shapers, i.e., TTS] cogent and true, or not? — which a properly-conducted series of empirical studies could effectively determine, together with (providing TTS is true) actual implementations, are of genuine importance for the unfolding of our individual and collective human lives, for better or worse, and for humanity more generally. And, when this fact is taken together with the six short critical studies in contemporary professional academic philosophy that I’ve presented above, it also follows (i) that sharply unlike contemporary professional academic philosophy, life-shaping philosophy in the concrete format of The Shape of Lives to Come project is essentially relevant to humanity, and (ii) that life-shaping philosophy in the concrete format of The Shape of Lives to Come project can and indeed should be conducted and pursued independently and outside of professional academic philosophy. In turn, life-shaping philosophy in the concrete format of The Shape of Lives to Come project is an inherently activist, anarcho- or borderless, autonomous, collaborative, and creative mode of philosophy; riffing on Nietzsche and Wallace Stevens, it’s philosophy done in the real world with “a hammer and blue guitar” (Hanna, 2018e, 2020d), not philosophy inside an ivory bunker.

Or bounded in a nutshell: life-shaping philosophy in the concrete format of The Shape of Lives to Come project is not only a real and relevant alternative to professional academic philosophy, but also an elaboration of what I’ve called rational anthropology (2015a, 2018a, 2018b, 2018c, 2018d), which is neither Analytic philosophy nor so-called “Continental philosophy,” and above all, it’s the philosophy of the future (Hanna, 2022a: esp. ch. 00).

[But the future still lies before us: so the next step is to provide an answer to this amazingly hard question: what are the material conditions for the real-world implementation of life-shaping philosophy?[i]]

NOTE

[i] See R. Hanna, “Material Conditions for the Real-World Implementation of Life-Shaping Philosophy, and A Multiple-Solutions Approach to The Income Problem,” Against Professional Philosophy (17 April 2022), available online HERE, and complete .pdf text also available online HERE.

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Mr Nemo

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