Equivocations and professionalism

Those who work in American philosophy often suffer from an unfortunate set of professional blindnesses.  The list is long, and I won't go into listing them all.  But there's one worth noting here:  they seem to be totally unaware of how their judgment in terminology is questionable.  Exhibit 1 is the unfortunate name for the main scholarly society for of American philosophy: the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, for short, the SAAP.  Exhibit 2 is pretty much anything, other than 'pragmatism,' named by Peirce.  And then this line turns up in a (now, not so recent) book review in the journal of record for the area, Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society:

Hickman’s Dewey is the ultimate tool…

To be fair, the sentence then proceeds with the metaphor, comparing Dewey to a "Swiss Army knife" that is "ready for any job at hand," and so on.  But come on.  Just a little judgment here, people.  Just a little.

3 thoughts on “Equivocations and professionalism”

  1. Right there with ya, bubba …
    For anyone who has never tried, I can only offer my personal assurance that there are paragraphs of pre-explnation involved when letting your freinds know that you are going to the SAAP conference …

  2. Hickman is well known as a technophile, and he notoriously brings that focus to his interpretation of Dewey's "instrumentalism." I expect the comment of Dewey as a tool is a riff on that insider knowledge about Larry and his interpretive bent.
    As for SAAP, like a boy named Sue, it just make you stronger. American philosophy is not for the weak.

  3. Hi David,
    Right about the instrumentalist interpretation of the metaphor.  It's just, you know, unfortunate given the colloquial use of "is a tool."  Regarding your second point, I've seen no evidence that SAAP membership strengthens anything but a scholar's persecution complex.

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