As a trained philosopher who just retired from a 30 year career teaching philosophy, I can honestly say this article was a nice try, but missing much.

The author might start by reading the essay titled, “On Bullshit” by Princeton Professor of Philosophy (emeritus) H. Frankfurt. It is a serious essay with a funny title, but Frankfurt takes seriously that BS is a specific form of deception distinct from lying. When lying the liar knows the truth and so respects that truth exists; however, bullshitters could care less about the truth and falsity of their statements, as they make things up as they go along and care to impress rather than be sincere.

Frankfurt’s concern is that our culture is inundated with BS and no one seems to care about how that erodes a core ethical sense that we should seek to be truthful (shalt not bare false witness).

One of the reasons there is so much BS is because in our culture people are made to feel as if they are supposed to have an opinion about just about anything and everything, and that is the case no matter if they actually have any expertise in the subject matter under discussion.

The construction supervisor at the local bar opines about his disagreement with the consensus among climate scientists who have PHDs from the most prestigious universities in the World. It is assumed for some reason that his opinion actually should matter when it does not.

Trump hires a radiologist to run the C-19 task force over actual virologists, and for a large portion of Americans that seems perfectly reasonable.

Trump is the president for the age of Bullshit. It is pure magic that his supporters have bumper stickers that say “Trump 2020 No More Bullshit.” They are so ignorant that they are deceived about Bullshit by the first place winning bullshitter.

All this is to say, the author of this piece does not show enough knowledge of the subject of contemporary philosophy, thus should refrain from opining as all that could possibly come out is bullshit.

As with virology, much of contemporary philosophical problems are being addressed by professional philosophers, and if you haven’t the training, you likely won’t be able to fully participate.

Finally, I would be happy to live in a country where every high school student, or even college, took a year of history of philosophy. This country would be a whole lot better off if the average student was to seriously read Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and then some of our contemporary thinkers who deal with gender, race, and finally class.

There would be a whole lot less Trumps and the FOX right wing tabloid news channels.

No one gets to jump into the middle of a deep discussion about contemporary physics without having a formal rigorous education in physics, and the case is similar with philosophy. In deed, some of the problems in physics are being dealt with in philosophy, as are also problems in neurophysiology and the ethics surrounding AI, not to mention even the notion of AI.

To get an idea of what I am talking about, I recommend attending any American Philosophy Association regional conference (East coast, Midwest, West coast) and sit in on a few symposiums. You will not understand what’s going on in its entirety, but you will be moved by the passion and relieved to learn that contemporary philosophy is alive and rigorous.

Just as with the sciences, there are people who attempt to popularize philosophy and philosophers in books published for a general audience, and some aren’t horrible; however, they also are not engaging with the rigors of what trained philosophers are doing.

Retired college lecturer of philosophy and humanities. Specializing in environmental ethics. CEO of KLAW Enterprises™, “We salvage failing art projects.”

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