Why Philosophy is in a Rut

Contemporary philosophy is stuck in the incidental culture war between right and left in contemporary Western society. Philosophers are little more than left-wing or center-left polemicists. They say nothing and are strongly against saying anything. They will entertain completely useless questions such as free will versus determinism which, of course, is unfalsifiable and therefore has zero appliciation to anything whatsoever. Rawls and Nausbaum and a handful of contemporary philosophers have some practical application but most philosophy doesn’t and spends its time wasting tuition money that could be used to feed and house students or grant scholarships to marginalized communities for debating unfalsifiable concepts that will never and can never make the world a better place.

Even when they do produce stuff that can be used, it usually shouldn’t be. What is anyone going to do with Peter Singer? Euthanize disabled people? Alain Botton? Join his fake religion? In the end, though, neither Peter Singer or Alain Botton has produced philosophical innovations. All they have done is rehash old answers to old questions while adding some more extreme points to make themselves stand out. Peter Singer, for example, was recently in a debate about whether it is more or not to be a billionaire. His answer would suggest that the world he wants is a hyper-vegan social democracy without disabled people. The key phrase is “social democracy” which is just a liberal democracy with a higher ratio of socialism to capitalism than, say, Canada.

That’s his teleology. His teleology is fundamentally conventional and he can barely be called a philosopher. Sapientism is his baby, the idea that intelligence is how we give value to individuals. Which is, first, insane and inhuman. But secondly, it is pathetically primitive and unsophisticated. It does not change liberal democracy or how life is lived. In the end, a world where all meat is fake and all people are neurotypical and the streets of the average American city feels the same as it has since the late 20th century is his teleology. Peter Singer just nibbled at normal liberal democracy without any accomplishments to mark him as a great philosopher.

Derek Parfit spent a lot of time talking about the individual and whether the individual continues to exist as their life and personality changes.What laws would he change? What social morés would he change? Like Peter Singer, Derek Parfit’s world looks like a Fukuyama-banal social democracy. You can define someone as different or the same person as they were, in the end no one is saved. There is still a mass extinction and there is still every social malady known to our species. That and his position is mostly contradicted by psychological science but since nothing is changed, it doesn’t matter.

When I do philosophy, I do a lot of things, in political philosophy, my focus is the Jane Jacobs route. We need an Aristotelian civicism and polis, a Rouseau-syle civic religion, an urban design to facilitate these things, and a community that largely self-regulates and behaves interdependently supported by soft institutions. All supported in the macro by a scientific Millian utilitarianism as opposed to a Rawlsian system and, in the Micro, by Aristotelian-style virtue ethics. Anarchist-style micro-socialism. That is my answer to get past what is termed “late stage capitalism” and which I term “Rawlsian-Consumerist Liberalism” That is a practical appliciation of philosophy but I began my radical career not in the pages of Marx or Camus like them but Emma Goldman and Jane Jacobs.

Singer wants to euthanize the disabled while his opponents want to institutionalize them or make them the charge of atomized nuclear families with few resources while the third and more vintage option of making them the charge of a community is the most humane. That is a microcosm of what is wrong with contemporary philosophy. If you get your ideas from places like Camus and Marx, it teaches you nothing that will do better than the current system. At the end of those philosophers is Fukuyama’s “The End of History”. Because Fukuyama is correct that on the broadest scales, liberal democracy has proven all alternatives unworkable. At the level of a national parliament, philosophy doesn’t have much room to grow (it has a little and liberal democracy should be more utilitarian than deontological) but at the level of the zoning board, it is almost virgin territory to be explored.

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