Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Richard Carrier and Aristotle

Now that Richard Carrier is blogging, maybe this might be a good time to ask him to clear up that business of him comparing himself to Aristotle. I suspect he was misunderstood.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Reppert,

I can see how Carrier could have been misunderstood, had it not been for the second sentence, it does seem clear.

“At the very least, Wood cannot argue against the fact that I am no less a philosopher than Aristotle or Hume. My knowledge, education, and qualifications certainly match theirs in every relevant respect.” [emphasis mine]

The first sentence can stand as Carrier claiming to be a philosopher (and he is). However, in the second sentence, he claims to “match” Hume and Aristotle in qualifications in every relevant respect. This is the point of contention; carrier may be a ‘philosopher’, maybe even a good one, but he hasn’t demonstrated that he can match Hume or Aristotle in knowledge (as he claims). If it was the case that Carriers claim is to just is a ‘philosopher’ then any philosopher can just claim they match the qualifications of Hume and Aristotle. But this is not what is expressed in Carrier’s statement.

Anonymous said...

Carrier answers this charge here

and here

Frankly I think his self defense is questionable it seems pretty clear he thinks highly of himself :D But I'm willing to let him off the hook.

Victor Reppert said...

Looking at this afresh, it doesn't seem to me that Aristotle or Hume especially stand out in knowledge, education, and qualifications. They were seminal thinkers who brought fresh perspectives to philosophical problems. Hume, as I recall, had trouble on the academic job market (those darned religious people).

The field of philosophy has acquired a certain level of professionalism. This is a good thing in one sense, in that one is involved in a continual peer-reviewing process. The doctorate in philosophy requires you to write a dissertation, and there are certain skills that go along with that that are valuable. For one thing, in grad school you are constantly asked to argue claims with a page limit on your head, so you learn how to get to the main point with more directness than I normally see in people without our training.

At the same time, William Hasker, a world-class philosopher by most accounts, never got a philosophy Ph.D in philosophy (he has one in theology) and does very good philosophical work. And my own work has largely been an attempt to show how someone with a lot of philosophical knowledge but not specialized training in the philosophy of the present day, C. S. Lewis, can contribute to our philosophical understanding.

Jason Pratt said...

That seems reasonably charitable as a qualified explanation.

Anonymous said...

Pratt the pith-master?


Jason Pratt said...

Oh, I wrote a 14414 word exposition on how I would answer (a) his five questions, and (b) his subsequent comments to those questions. After which I ported out most of (b), seeing as how somehow those subsequent comments tended to morph over into categorically _different_ questions that he ostensibly was _really_ interested in asking instead. In either case, though, I have a 6700 or 7700 word exposition left over.

After which, I realized that even _I_ didn't much care about reading through either one yet again for trimming down to some kind of quasi-feasible submission length. {ironic g} (To compare, my three-part answer to Keith Parsons during a discussion of ours, which Victor _very_ kindly posted up several months ago, runs somewhere in the high 4000s.)

So, I decided to write a short charitable agreement instead. (Besides, I blistered him on conspiring with his host to ambush the guests anyway, over on the comments to the entry Victor linked to. So I wanted to say something favorable, if I could. Some of the 14Kword exposition would have been favorable, of course, but not all of it to say the least.)

Part of my answer to his 3rd question shows up (somewhat off-topic, thanks to Steven Carr) down in Victor's Mormon-history thread, though; on the remotely distant chance anyone is interested. {s}

Jason Pratt said...

Note: after writing the above, I learned that Richard has further strengthened his mea culpa to Gary and Mike for what he did on the show.

While he still kind of elides over answering why he intentionally tried to keep his guests from knowing his questions, if he really did truly and sincerely want to know and understand what kind of answers they would have for them, and have an actual discussion about those; he does near the end of his revised entry make a much stronger confession of fault on having bolloxed the interview, specifically in regard to ambushing them like that.

(There are other strengthenings to his mea culpas, too. I just wanted to be sure people reading this knew he had done it.)

Edwardtbabinski said...

Has no one noted what Carrier's remark was made IN RESPONSE TO?

It was made in response to this by statement Wood:

Is Richard a Philosopher? Richard longs to be recognized as a philosopher, and he claims to be one in his book and elsewhere. I’m surprised no one has challenged this claim. If by “philosopher” Richard means “someone who thinks a lot about stuff,” then I would perhaps grant that he is a philosopher. If, however, we employ that term with any meaningful criteria of what it means to be a philosopher, Richard falls dreadfully short.


So Carrier was reacting to Wood's portrayal of him as someone whose qualifications fall "dreadfully short."

Actually, if you want to pick at labels, comparisons with great philosophers or with great scientists, I recall reading a while back about some rather grandoise labels/comparisons that certain I.D.ists have employed concerning themselves and or the effects their own works will have on future generations. *smile*

Victor Reppert said...

Ed: I think this supports the interpretation of Carrier that articulated above.

Jason Pratt said...

Ed was too busy being hostile to actually pay attention to the comments. (You'd think one day he might learn... {sigh})