The painted veil, by those who were, called life,
Which mimicked, as with colours idly spread,
All men believed or hoped, is torn aside;
The loathsome mask has fallen, the man remains
Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed, but man
Equal, unclassed, tribeless, and nationless,
Exempt from awe, worship, degree, the king
Over himself; just, gentle, wise: but man
Passionless? — no, yet free from guilt or pain.
— (P.B. Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, Act 3, scene IV, lines 190-198)
In “Philosophy’s Second Copernican Revolution,” I argued for this thesis:
Instead of assuming that philosophy is really possible only inside the professional academy, we postulate that philosophy is really possible only outside the professional academy.
And my basic reason was:
Only in this way can philosophy re-connect with its own past, be critically autonomous from the military-industrial-university complex, and become real (i.e, authentic, serious) philosophy again.
In other words, to play a riff on the title and main themes of Shelley’s amazing poetic rendering of the Prometheus myth, Prometheus Unbound, I’m arguing for philosophy unbound.
Obviously, this is highly controversial, not to mention edgy, and rebellious—and also fairly likely to épater the APA bourgeoisie, aka the good little do-bees.
Or as one APA burgher-bee put it:
It is sad, that the topic of professional philosophy outside academia—a topic that is important and could be approached productively—is seen by y’all as an occasion for snark, insults, and posturing. I sure don’t need to read this.
Or as another one put it, even more pricelessly:
[APP is] presumptuous, condescending, sophomoric twaddle about a field a great majority of whose members display to a significant degree the virtues required to make serious contributions to any field of intellectual endeavor. Your abysmal ignorance of that profoundly important fact is appalling – even more appalling than your spouting off on the subject.
Buzz buzz buzz!
Nevertheless, as against the APA burgher-bees, let us suppose for a moment that what we’ve been arguing at APP for the last four years is not only bang-on-target and eloquent, but also cogent and objectively true, every single word of it: then what would “philosophy unbound” look like?
Here are five ways of characterizing it.
First, “philosophy unbound” means liberation from the ideological hyper-discipline of professional academic philosophy, as regards philosophical content and philosophical method.
Second, “philosophy unbound” means liberation from the ideological hyper-discipline of professional academic philosophy, as regards style in philosophical creation, discussion, and dissemination.
Third, “philosophy unbound” means liberation from the ideological hyper-discipline of professional academic philosophy, as regards what counts as pursuing a philosophical career.
Fourth, “philosophy unbound” means liberation from the ideological hyper-discipline of professional academic philosophy, as regards what counts as living a philosophical life.
Fifth and finally, “philosophy unbound” means liberation from the ideological hyper-discipline of professional academic philosophy, as regards moral and political activism.
But now, getting down to cases, what would count as a specific, concrete example of philosophy unbound?
By way of delivering the goods, APP is going to publish a five-part, four-book work of philosophy called The Rational Human Condition, by Robert Hanna, including —
1. Preface and General Introduction
2. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge
3. Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics
4. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy
5. Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise
Starting tomorrow, Monday 3 July 2017, it will appear part-by-part and section-by-section, in weekly installments.
And in the fullness of time, the complete, downloadable text of each part will also be made available on APP.