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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Some Popular Misconceptions of Philosophy

By Paul So
Facebook Post
September 29, 2013 at 2:47am

From my personal experience,  I have encountered many, many, and many misconceptions that people have about philosophy. I deliberately use the word "many" three times to emphasize that it can never be emphasized any less. I have encountered so many misconceptions that I practically lost count. I want to identify some of the most popular and common misconceptions people have about not only philosophy but what philosophers do in general. The origins of these misconceptions are not entirely known, but I suspect (as usual) that it is probably related to the mass media of popular culture.

While this may seem unfair to some readers, I want to focus specifically on what philosophers from the analytic traditions do. I admit that I do have a bias for analytic philosophy and I am personally not very fond of continental philosophy (partially because postmodernism is somewhat popular in that tradition), but I also want to say that I do not know very much about continental philosophy so I cannot judge what continental philosophers really do. Another reason is that important figures from continental philosophy such as Nietzsche, Sartre, and Heidegger are often the public faces of philosophy that crowd out other equally important philosophers from the analytic tradition; analytic philosophers are largely underrepresented in the public (besides Peter Singer, Bertrand Russell, Patricia Churchland, and Noam Chomsky, who to some extent does worth within analytic tradition) compare to some historical figures associated with continental philosophy. So, I want to identify some popular misconceptions of philosophy and then explain why they are misconceptions from the point of view of analytic philosophy.

Here is a list of several popular misconceptions I come across.

(1) Philosophy is about finding the meaning of life, it is a quintessential spiritual enterprise to improve our way of life. 

The other misconceptions and entire Facebook post is here.
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