Tag: Scavenger Philosophy


Mythos, Wisdom, and Scavenger Philosophy

According to Karl Jaspers, philosophy arose in the “Axial Age” as a kind of critical reflection on myth and tradition. Nowadays, there is widespread agreement among historians of ideas that the notion of an “Axial Age” is itself a myth, but I think that the other part of Jaspers’ idea is right, that is, philosophy indeed originates in critical reflection on myth and tradition. This doesn’t mean that this defines the scope and purpose of philosophy, of course – as a “mature” discipline, philosophy mostly reflects on itself – but I believe that reflection on this idea about the origins...

Book Review of Jay Garfield’s Engaging Buddhism — Extended Version

When the Australasian Journal of Philosophy (AJP) asked me to review Jay Garfield’s (2015) book Engaging Buddhism I didn’t realize that they have a 400-word limit for “Book Notes”. That’s the book-review equivalent of a haiku, which posed an interesting challenge, but which also required cutting 90% of the things I have (or want) to say about Garfield’s book. This “extended version” of my review includes both the pre-publication version of my “Book Note” for AJP and a some additional, more detailed comments. pre-publication version of my “Book Note” for AJP In the preface of his book Garfield observes that...

Anarchism as Metaphilosophy

Near the end of the prologue of Plato’s Republic, Socrates says to his opponent Thrasymachus that what they are discussing is “no ordinary/insignificant matter, but how we ought to live” (1.352d). As in many of Plato’s writings, Socrates here played the role of his mouthpiece: “How we ought to live” was indeed no insignificant matter for Plato, but the starting point and ultimate purpose of his philosophical investigations. Relegating the pre-Socratic philosophers to the discipline’s prehistory, it is sometimes suggested that Western philosophy started with Plato. Alfred North Whitehead even claimed that the history of Western philosophy “consists of a...