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NEW PHILOSOPHY

How can there be "new" philosophy?

Western philosophy began during the seventh century b.c.e., so it's a good question how there can be anything new in the field. Toward the end of the twentieth century, philosophy began a revitalization by adding fields and reconfiguring old problems. Some of the subjects added had originated in philosophy, developed as other disciplines, and then returned to philosophy so that philosophers could sort out the "real" intellectual issues. Feminism, environmentalism, and to some extent studies of race all fall under this category, as does cognitive science and new philosophies of psychology and biology.

Post-structuralism, or deconstructionism, which is also known as "postmodern philosophy," always was considered philosophy in Europe, but it has only recently been recognized as such at philosophy departments in American universities. So-called "other philosophies" from Latin America, Asia, and Africa have also begun to achieve recognition in the United States. There has been a revival of pragmatism, too.

Brand new on the horizon is "experimental philosophy." There is, in addition, a new philosophy of biology, philosophy of film and television, philosophy of technology, and philosophy for children, not to mention the new "mysterianism."

Which of these new philosophies are fads and which will last?

The history of philosophy teaches that the focus of a generation or two can slip into obscurity as new methods and subjects catch attention. So it is impossible to predict which philosophers and books will be read 100, 50, or even 20 years from now. In one way or another, the ideas and writers considered in this chapter signal the end of philosophy via its dissolution into literature, cultural criticism, or empirical science.

But philosophy has endured for over 2,000 years, so news of its death may be premature at this point. It also remains to be seen whether these new strains of thought

How well do "old" philosophers receive "new" philosophers?

This is, of course, not a matter of the age of philosophers. The old tradition remains robust, and its practitioners have repudiated each of these new philosophies as not real philosophy. Still, as their practitioners secure posts in philosophy departments, which they increasingly do, that dismissal becomes untenable. If someone who has been trained by philosophers publishes work in philosophy journals or books, is hired to teach philosophy, and identifies as a philosopher, that person is as much a philosopher as the bird that waddles, quacks, and swims is a duck!

The point is that philosophers customarily disagree and repudiate each other's thoughts when they are among friends. So one would expect no less than this kind of reaction to the new philosophies who have diverged from the mainstream.

will themselves become entrenched in ways that are distinctly philosophical according to the old tradition, or whether the old tradition will just sail on grandly, oblivious of current distractions.

What are the major themes in new philosophy?

Several factors stand out: a perceived need for philosophy to be relevant to current social concerns, the value of democracy, cultural pluralism, the importance of including women and non-whites who did not fully contribute to a history dominated by white males, and, above all, a strong revolt against ideas of objectivity, truth, and the perceived arrogance and hubris of previous philosophers. There is also a desire to make the subject of philosophy interesting to new students in a multimedia, electronic age.

 
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