Thursday, February 01, 2007

Whereof We Cannot Speak, We Must Remain Silent

Looking through these collections of photographs of philosophers (via), which are pleasant enough themselves but made all the better for the little epigraphs the philosophers have been asked to write for themselves, I came across this quote from Ned Block's 'The Trouble With Functionalism', which I vaguely remember from doing the Philosophy of Mind as an undergraduate:

You ask: What is it that philosophers have called qualitative states? I answer, only half in jest: As Louis Armstrong said when asked what jazz is, 'If you got to ask, you ain't never gonna get to know.'

What would Wittgenstein say? On the other hand, I remember seeing a quote from a philosopher at the University of Auckland, saying something like

Philosophers have claimed support from Wittgenstein for a wide variety of views, some of them directly contradictory. This means that claiming support from Wittgenstein for a particular philosophical position is rather like asking for a reference from your mother.

Less amusingly, in sixty photos, there are ten women and two people who aren't white
. Depressingly, I rather suspect this reflects the nature of the discipline.

3 comments:

a very public sociologist said...

I don't know about you, but I always find it weird to see photos of thinkers.

Rob Jubb said...

Particularly when the photos are themselves slightly weird, I think.

Cirdan said...

Depressingly, I rather suspect this reflects the nature of the discipline.

Things are changing; ever so slowly, but they are. I should know :)