Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Tehran Times interviews Lawrence J. Hatab.
Q: Is 20th century the best century in the history of philosophy? Why?

A: This is a very difficult question to answer. In a sense, no century can match the 4th Century BC in ancient Greece, because there the very nature, shape, and scope of philosophy was created for the first time, and we still wrestle with the questions of Plato and Aristotle. But I think the 20th Century has one great element, and that is sometimes called the ""linguistic turn."" Here the questions of philosophy must begin with how our language operates, rather than with suppositions about certain ""realities"" to which our language only ""refers."" Two giants of 20th Century philosophy, Heidegger and Wittgenstein, both worked in this way. On the other hand, one of the worst parts of the 20th Century has been the ""professionalization"" of philosophy, where the discipline has become over-specialized, insulated in academia, and conversing mainly with fellow specialists, to the point where philosophy loses touch not only with concrete affairs of life, but also with an intelligent general readership. This is one reason why public discourse has become so much more shallow and thoughtless.
Hatab has written on ethics and finitude and on empathy and Heidegger.
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