03 January 2010
Top 20 Philosophers???
Follow that link, and I expect many will agree with me that that is an extraordinary list. Blaise Pascal isn't there. Neither is George Berkeley. Neither is William James! The list is entirely western: No Lao-Tzu, no Buddha. And in general it seems to value the more abstract realms of philosophy (metaphysics and epistemology) over those with a more practical bent (political, social, aesthetic).
The middle three on this list -- Frege, Aquinas, and Hegel at positions 9 - 11 -- are all vastly overrated thereby.
At any rate, the test produced an intriguing series of comments, including one who apparently thinks of Socrates as a fictional character invented by Plato. He said that including them both on the list is like including both Nietzsche and Zarathustra. Cute, though I can't really buy it. Like Leiter himself, I find the first six names reasonable enough.
Still, anyone working up such a list, or even voting and thereby contributing to a list in the collectivist methodology used here, ought to confront the basic ambiguity: vote for the twenty who seem to you most nearly right? or for the twenty who seem of most world-historical significance? or some combination of the two standards?
[Edited to correct some misstatements regarding the list.]
Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.