The purpose of this blog is to say some things that don’t fit into the format of a traditional academic paper. There are many such things, and they would, in the past, have gone unsaid, or have been said only in the context of a discussion among academics over coffee. To the outside world such things are invisible — but they constitute the living world in which academic debates and disagreements exist and they constitute the invisible 0.9 iceberg as compared to the published tip (as it were). It is the existence of this larger context that makes it virtually impossible for anyone who is not within a University to understand what is going on in a particular discipline — and I would say this is especially true for philosophy. For example, just browsing a philosophy bookshelf in your local bookstore would give you no idea what it is philosophers do or what they are interested in — and this would be true even if the bookstore is well-stocked with recent publications. But this has the consequence that no one who is not in philosophy can really understand the subject, though many people will be deceived into thinking that they can and do.

This is a great pity. But it is more than that — it has divorced philosophy from the culture that surrounds it and consequently left that culture philosophy-less, clutching on to fragments of misunderstood eastern mysticism and wisdom literature, blended together with cat-memes and the saloon-bar sawdust of political outrage. I can’t possibly hope to reverse the damage that has already been done. But it may do something (an epsilon of something) to say a few things that are fragments of that wider philosophical discussion, not behind closed doors but out in the open. However I can only do that from within my own areas of interest, which are Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Mathematics, Epistemology and Metaphysics. Perhaps the best that could be hoped for is that people will understand their debt to Plato or Aristotle — or have a little more knowledge of what they were saying, rather than at present, where it is vanishing to zero.

As you can see, I’m a pessimist even in my optimism.