Dead Philosophers’ Society

Sep 23 2012 @ 6:10pm

In an interview with The Browser, Nigel Warburton argues that we need to expand our notion of what philosophy can be – and especially urges us to appreciate how poetry can help us understand how to live:

I think professional philosophers often like to make their subject smaller than it really is by setting arbitrary limits. As far as I'm concerned, philosophy is any human enterprise that involves critical thought about basic questions, like how we should live, what is the nature of reality and so on. Those questions can be asked seriously in all kinds of forms. So I don't see the subject as restricted to nerdy philosophical papers in refereed journals. Some of the most important contributions have been literary. If you think of classical philosophy, you have Plato's very literary dialogues, and Lucretius's On The Nature of Things is a poem! Some parts of TS Eliot's poems are very philosophical. Kierkegaard is a poetic writer who uses fictions, and Nietzsche uses aphorisms and poetry. They're all philosophers.

Later in the interview, Warburton provides an idiosyncratic list of five books for philosophical neophytes.