Words to Write By

A goodly proportion of current philosophical work is highly technical, and its results accessible only to sibling practitioners or to some who operate in closely related areas (as results in logic are available to mathematicians.) To some degree this is inevitable; philosophy as a discipline involves a commitment to theorizing and this commitment necessitates some involvement in technical terminology and internal debates. Values like precision and rigour are well served by this tendency. None the less, precision and rigour are instrumental values, and when they develop a life of their own, they can become detached from truth, importance, and wisdom. I have some sympathy with those who think that contemporary analytical philosophy has become too scholastic (though I think the point applies even more to much contemporary French and German philosophy.) If philosophical concerns are not, at certain points, turned outwards to the broader community and its intellectual condition, they lose focus and nourishment, and if the community has no access to the reflections of philosophers, it is deprived of valuable insights and self-understanding.

Coady, C. A. J. ‘Testimony: A Philosophical Study,’ OUP, 1994