Announcement! (2/15/18): I have decided to create a separate weblog, Maverick Philosopher: Strictly Philosophical in which to collect my purely philosophical entries. All posts will continue to appear at this, the mother site, whether strictly philosophical or not, while the separatum will feature only the purely philosophical entries. The latter will include both new posts and re-workings and reposts of the best old ones.
Think of it as a 'best of' compilation if you like.
I will strive for a clean, clutter-free, easily legible presentation. No comments allowed at the separatum site, but you are welcome to e-mail me.
'Strictly philosophical' does not exclude political philosophy but it does exclude politics. I nevertheless stand by my pledge to fight the good fight. It will continue in these pages.
My PhilPapers Page currently lists 87 bibliographical items and will give you some idea of my areas of expertise.
Welcome to the third and latest incarnation of Maverick Philosopher. I began this weblog in May of 2004 and have kept it up continuously on different servers, missing only a few days. I'm in this game 'for the duration,' as long as health and eyesight hold out. It has proven to be deeply satisfying, not the least reason for which being that my scribbling has attracted a large number of like-minded individuals, some of whom I have met in the flesh, and have come to value highly as friends.
What you need to know is that this weblog is just one philosopher's online journal, notebook, common place book, workshop, soapbox, sandbox, literary litter box, and online filing cabinet. A lot of what I write here is unpolished and tentative. I explore the cartography of ideas along many paths. Here below we are in statu viae, and it is fitting that our thinking should be exploratory, meandering, and undogmatic. Nothing human, and thus nothing philosophical, is foreign to me.
The graphic well illustrates my approach. A lonesome traveller meanders along a desert path toward a distant prominence which points up and away to the goal of his Quest, a goal fitfully glimpsed, never grasped. Leastways, not while he is on trail and on trial. The quester quests until his thought rests, but the Rest is far off. Meanwhile there is the Quest, an integral part of which is philosophy, reason's resolute search for the ultimate truth about the ultimate matters. But reason is not reason unless it strives mightily beyond itself to sources of truth that transcend it.
I write about what interests me whether I am expert in it or not. Some find this unseemly; I do not. After all, this is only a weblog. I write what I know, but also what I do not know and want to find out. Nescio, ergo blogo. I oppose hyper-professionalization and excessive specialization as deeply unphilosophical. While I have many a bone to pick with Wilfrid Sellars, I heartily endorse the following formulation of his that captures an essential part of the philosophical enterprise:
The aim of philosophy . . . is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.
Every once in a while I post something that is mistaken, someone corrects me, and I learn something. I admit mistakes if mistakes they be. See how modest I am? On the other hand, this rarely happens.
My PhilPapers Page currently lists 82 bibliographical items and will give you some idea of my areas of expertise.
I allow comments on only some posts, usually the more technical ones. Too often, the best arguments against an open combox are the contents of one. And to keep the cyberpunks at bay, Comment Moderation is always on. Comments must address what I say in my posts. If you go off on a tangent, I will most likely not allow your comment to appear. Comments must meet a certain standard, and I do not suffer fools gladly. But on some days I go soft, being only human.
I suppose that in these decadent days of the Decline of the West I should issue a TRIGGER WARNING: this is no place for the politically correct. It is not a 'safe space.' Here you will find free speech, trenchancy of expression, open inquiry, and no obeisance to the sacred cows of the Left.
Why 'Maverick Philosopher'? Since I am a philosopher and what is done here is mainly philosophy, it is appropriate that 'philosopher' be in the title. As for 'maverick,' this word derives from the name of the Texas lawyer Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870) who for a time was a rancher who ran cattle that bore no brand. These unbranded animals of his came to be known as mavericks. The term was then extended to cover any unbranded stock and later any person who holds himself aloof from the herd, bears no 'brand,' resists classification, strives to be independent in his thinking or mode of living, is religiously or politically unaffiliated, and the like. (Cf. Robert Hendrickson, QPB Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, p. 473.)
In my case, 'maverick' signifies several things in particular. I am academically unaffiliated by choice, having resigned a tenured position in a philosophy department at a good university when I was 41. I am neither narrowly analytic nor Continental in my approach to philosophy. You could say I straddle the 'Continental Divide' just as I straddle Athens and Jersualem with one foot in each.
Why the motto, "Study everything, join nothing"? Well, this quotation from Paul Brunton encapsulates rather nicely the maverick approach. It also provide a hint as to my psychological bias: I am not a 'joiner.' Myers-Briggs INTP's tend not to be joiners. Since there is truth in Nietzsche's observation that "Every philosophy is its author's self-cognition," the hint may be useful to the reader as he attempts to assess what I have to say. For more on the motto, see here.
What's with "footnotes to Plato" from your masthead? Are you a Platonist? Well, all of us who uphold the Western (Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman) tradition are Platonists if Alfred North Whitehead is right in his observation that:
The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them. [. . .] Thus in one sense by stating my belief that the train of thought in these lectures is Platonic, I am doing no more than expressing the hope that it falls within the European tradition. (Process and Reality, Corrected Edition, The Free Press, 1978, p. 39)
So in that general sense I am a Platonist. And I also like the modesty conveyed by "footnotes to Plato." Some say the whole of philosophy is a battle between Plato and Aristotle. That is not bad as simplifications go, and if you forced me to choose, I would throw in my lot with Plato and the Platonists. So that is a more specific sense in which I provide "footnotes to Plato."
Updated 6 April 2017