Who needs enemies?

June 10, 2010

Your report on a conference "defending" philosophy against university cuts is bizarre, particularly since it suggests that the event aimed to bring philosophers together to build a united front ("Making the unmeasurable visible: philosophers unite to fight back", 3 June).

All those quoted, at least the ones who really are philosophers, represent respectable but certainly minority views in UK philosophy.

Peter Osborne defined philosophy using his own answer - one alternative among many - to a philosophical question about ontology: "Philosophy will always be opposed to the view that things don't exist that can't be measured", thereby banishing certain forms of materialism and physicalism from the philosophical canon by definitional fiat.

Alexander Garcia Duttmann used the opportunity offered by the conference platform to attack professional philosophy as "academic drivel", and Nina Power launched a broadside against the UK philosophical mainstream, analytic philosophy. If these are the friends of philosophy, heaven help us.

David-Hillel Ruben, Professor of philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London.

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