What's the Use of Philosophy?
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What's the use of philosophy? Philip Kitcher here grapples with an essential philosophical question: what the point of philosophy is, and what it should and can be. Kitcher's portrait of the discipline is not a familiar defense of the importance of philosophy or the humanities writ large. Rather, he is deeply critical of philosophy as it is practiced today, a practice focused on narrow technical questions that are far removed from the concerns of human life. He provides a penetrating diagnosis of why exactly contemporary philosophy has come to suffer this crisis, showing how it suffers from various syndromes that continue to push it further into irrelevance. Then, taking up ideas from William James and John Dewey, Kitcher provides a positive roadmap for the future of philosophy: first, as a discipline that can provide clarity to other kinds of human inquiry, such as religion or science; and second, bringing order to people's notions of the world, dispelling confusion in favor of clarity, and helping us think through our biggest human questions and dilemmas. Kitcher concludes with a letter to young philosophers who wonder how they can align their aspirations with the hyper-professionalism expected of them.