Mark Vernon has posted an excellent piece on the state of philosophy today. I won’t try to summarize it, because he covers a lot of ground, and I couldn’t do him justice. Moreover the picture is, at times, downright paradoxical. For example, Martha Nussbaum believes that philosophers are doing good, relevant, accessible work, but it isn’t being communicated:
The problem she believes is not philosophyâ€™s: it is the media. â€˜Entities such as the New York Times Book Review and other major newspapers are becoming less and less interested in the work of philosophers,â€™ she says, noting too that the reverse is true in continental Europe and countries like India.
Well, OK. But on the other hand…
… popular philosophy is a growth area in publishing. It is hard to supply precise figures, since many books with philosophical content fall into other categories, but in the UK at least the overall trend for the past 5 years is up. â€˜There is something of a backlash against celebrity non-fiction at the moment,â€™ explains Giles Elliot, charts and media editor at The Bookseller. â€˜The book industry is very interested in intellectual non-fiction.â€™
And I think I’d agree: the amount of space in the biggest bookstores that is devoted to philosophy seems to have grown significantly over the last 20 years.
Anyway, it’s an excellent article which I highly recommend, as well as his interviews with Dan Dennett and others. And like so many thought-provoking pieces, I found it via the RSS feed from Butterflies and Wheels.