Sunday, September 30, 2007

Comment on Mr Atkinson

I’ve just been re-reading the attempt at a discussion with Mr Philip Atkinson, ‘author’ (I’m reminded of a glib one-liner to the effect that the subject of the retort was only an ‘author if that class is broadened to include anyone who can write a sentence’) of ‘A Definition of Philosophy’.

I have to admit that, since it appears Mr Atkinson has moved on, I feel somewhat cheated. Mr Atkinson approached the Club, and thus Dialectic, and asked us to critique his argument. Mr Douglas commenced this with an introductory commentary. My, probably biased, analysis of what followed was a process of him ridiculing his interlocutors, demanding they comply with his method, and refusing to expand upon any of our points. Clearly, his interlocutors were not faultless in this process (an admission on my part).

I’m left wondering what was achieved in this quiet sustained (by recent standards) discussion. It appears that Mr Atkinson will probably ignore the points we raised, and I feel that I have actually gained no insight from the discussion.


Samuel Douglas said...

Well I agree that we have gained no insight into Philosophy. But I at least have gained insight into how some people justify their views, and how they respond to being (rightly or wrongly) to their perceived disenfranchisement by the Academy.

Should I have given Mr Atkinson so much time? I am not sure. His assertion that Academia had ignored him was a factor. Sections of the Philosophic community, particularly certain Analytic thinkers, ignore anything that does not suit them, even when it comes from other established philosophers. So I could not be sure that his exclusion was justified, though I now know it to be so.

Samuel said...

I wouldn't describe the discussion as "quiet" except in a purely literal sense. I suppose how much one learned from it would depend on how much one already knew about human stupidity.