Simon Critchley On Philosophy

“Take your time.”
  • The form of a philosophical question is “what is x?” What is “justice” universally? Philosophy is a matter of universal questions. “Philosophy is the education of grownups”. Philosophy must influence the wider culture and how it thinks about itself.
  • Simon Critchley ran “The Stone”, a philosophy column in the New York Times. “It’s hard to get a sense of the importance of the New York Times” as it separates “civilization from barbarism” for many.
  • At one time (an earlier era of the internet) on what was called “the website” there was a lot of freedom and we found a genuine public interest in philosophy. It didn’t matter to the readers who the writers were, it mattered the topic.
  • Philosophy is often rooted in friendship. Philosophy begins and ends with the question of “what is philosophy?” leading to accusations of navel gazing.
  • Philosophy begins in ancient Greece with Socrates who was eventually charged with impiety towards the gods and corruption of the youth. Sophists were people who thought they “knew something” but Socrates just asked them questions and exposed that they “didn’t know”.
  • Taking this view of philosophy (a Socratic one) it is deflationary.
  • Philosophers aren’t wise, philosophy is the love of wisdom not its possession.
  • Heidegger’s whole enterprise was organized around the question of being, we have lost sight of the question of being.
  • Thales was looking up so much that he fell into a well/ditch: a philosopher looks at the sky and falls in a ditch provoking laughter (a philosopher is an absent minded buffoon). Philosophy is clumsy in relation to worldly affairs.
  • The Greek water clock and the theft of time. To philosophize is to “take your time” (Wittgenstein). If we don’t take time we make ourselves small.
  • It does not occur to the philosopher to join a political club or party (Socrates).
  • The good of philosophy is to create accusations of impiety, whatever the gods are you call them into question.
  • The notion that philosophers should give policy advice is a slippery slope, philosophy is really characterized by its uselessness.
  • There is no basic agreement on any fundamental question, the point of philosophy is to prick holes.
  • Plato’s academy was private and outside the city walls.