Reviews

Common Sense

Over in my philosophy department they used to shake their heads and smile. They didn't actually pat me on the head or anything; professors don't do that. But they did get a kick out of what they saw as my naiveté. "How sweet," they seemed to think, "that he could really believe that philosophy is, by its nature, impenetrable by the sort of idiocy that has penetrated sociology and anthropology."

Well, it made sense to me. In sociology, the irrelevance of fact is such that over three quarters (well over three quarters) of the introductory textbooks can claim, even after more than 50 years of Margaret Mead's vehemently denying she ever said any such thing, that Mead's Tchambuli reversed sex roles. But philosophy doesn't have empirical facts, and so, it seemed to me, any logical equivalent of the made-up fact would be so obviously false that derisive laughter would be philosophy's source of immunity.

It turns out it doesn't work that way. You wouldn't believe the nonsense that some men and women in philosophy, at least in the area of sex-role issues, now take seriously. Most of the nonsense is a sort of Dadaist entwining of confused argument and obsessive concern with bodily functions. It's a little easier to think that this stuff isn't actually taken seriously by the author (even if it is taken seriously by Harvard University Press), than to believe...

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