Friday, July 20, 2012

Town Philosopher

By now everybody has probably read about Corigliano and the new official town philosopher, who will discuss things like how to think clearly for €15/hour (ie no real expense for the taxpayers).

I love her response to the complaint by the guild of psychologists:

Dr. Guiseppe Luigi Palma said the use of a consulting philosopher was "not only misleading and confusing, but utterly perilous". He said his organisation was ready to take "all the most appropriate actions to combat any offence that may be identified".

to which the reply was

But "the work is not on the emotions, but about ideas," said Lupo. "I don't think the college of psychologists knows what a philosophical consultant is." And being a philosophical consultant, she added: "Their criticism is in any case devoid of epistemological content."

I can think of plenty of people who could profitably spend a little time in such discussions, but not that many who'd actually do it.

Novelty would bring a few people by, but I can't imagine very many people making the pilgrimage to the office, even if it was at a restaurant. I could be wrong: I gather pastors do a lot of counseling and some of that is bound to be big-picture stuff.

What sort of town atmosphere lends itself to philosophical discussion? A lot of what I eavesdrop on at the sidewalk tables turns out to be business or politics. Perhaps asking the important "why" questions makes people feel too vulnerable, and the rigor of logic doesn't seem very popular (especially in politics).

Now an on-call philosopher who you could ring up from a 1am college dorm bull session about the meaning of the universe--he might get some business.


Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

I guess every town could use a shtick to help it stand out for something or another. But remember, this is the country that put geologists on trial because they did not adequately forecast an earthquake. I’d kind of like to ask the Corigliano philosopher about the logic behind that one.

james said...

It is also the country where, IIRC, they used to require that bridge engineers stand under the bridge when the first proof-loaded truck was allowed to drive over it. So sometimes they get the logic right.