Cover Image: The School of Athens, fresco by Raphael, 1509-1511, Vatican Museum.
By Dr. Donald DeMarco, Catholic East Texas, A
The philosophical enterprise, apart from the contributions of Catholic philosophers, has been in a bad way for some time. Its departure from common sense prompted G. K. Chesterton to complain that “nobody’s system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody’s sense of reality; to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense”. Examples are legion.
Philosopher Thomas Nagel’s most famous article, “What Is It Like To Be A Bat” was published in the 1974 edition of The Philosophical Review (Duke University Press). It was later reprinted in Nagel’s Moral Questions (1979). Nagel concluded that while a human might be able to imagine what it is like to be bat by taking “the bat’s point of view,” it would still be impossible “to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat.” Another philosopher, Peter Hacker, found Nagel’s argument to be not only “malconstructed” but philosophically “misconceived” and “laid the groundwork for . . . forty years of fresh confusion about consciousness.” Because of its degeneracy into uncommon nonsense, philosophy earned the ridicule of being in a dark room looking for a black cat who is not there. Comedian Bill Maher dismissed philosophy altogether in saying that it was as useful as a bidet in a gorilla cage. …