Saturday, July 2, 2011

Against -Isms: Thinking Philosophy

I'm against -Isms.

My entry into the crusade was occasioned by Thomas Alexander, who despises them.  I will tell you my reasons why in a case example, something I'm working on.

I plan to present a counter-argument to a recent author's thesis.  My primary critique can be simplified to this: the author claims that these folks are for this -ism, which is in contradiction with these other -isms, but the author equivocates multiple times for every -ism introduced.  The author is not just wrong, but erroneously conflates so many concepts that I question whether the work is disingenuous.

I see this all the time, especially between cross-tradition work.  (That's another post--my fervent insistence that philosophers recognize traditions and the implications of philosophy being tradition-bound; denial is like refusing to admit one has a mother.)  Frequently in other cases, I will engage in cross-tradition conversations that constantly run afoul of terminology, but none so pernicious as the "umbrella terms," especially -isms.  Using these terms is not per se bad, but using them without being able to define them and distinguish their varied denotations--all too common in my experience--is a pernicious unthinking.

1 comment:

  1. Looking back, I think I'll qualify the last statement. It's not just being able to reflect upon the various denotations of -isms, but being able to habitually confront your own presuppositions rather than going forward in thought. Being able to reflect is not so useful if one is not called to thinking when one should be.