What are we doing and why are we doing it?

Okay, no more messing about, let’s do some philosophy. Yes, that means you!

Last time I concluded that my guiding principle for being a philosopher is to continually ask ‘what are we doing and why are we doing it?’ Now I am going to show you one way you can put this into practice, and I am going to start big. No made-up examples, no obscure dead white guys, no philosophy finger-pointing at pop-culture faux pas.

My example comes from living philosophical powerhouse Daniel Dennett. His Intuition Pumps is an excellent book offering an invaluable philosophical toolkit for thinking. Designed for a general readership it is extra pleasingly accessible, yet remains challenging, robust, thoroughgoing philosophy. Go check it out.

Having had the pleasure of seeing him lecture, Professor Dennett is a genial, yet formidable character, who presents his complex ideas with such convincing ease that you risk being lulled into placid acceptance. These charms, in person and in print, gives us all the more reason to consider what he says carefully. Both to make sure we actually get his ideas right (not merely accept them), and to check if they are actually right. In this instance we adjust the guiding principle to ask: What is Dennett doing, and why is he doing it? Continue reading