Highly recommended: the perils of pop philosophy

Julian Sanchez has a brilliant post regarding some Perils of pop philosophy, which he uses as a synecdoche for blogging, journalism, and other forms of expression/knowledge that can easily be reduced to facile dilettantism rather than genuine knowledge acquisition and, ultimately, extension.

If the first paragraph confuses you, skip to the second, although by doing so you’ll probably be committing one of the sins Sanchez discusses, some of which are implied in this paragraph, which I would consider his money shot for this post:

This brings us around to some of my longstanding ambivalence about blogging and journalism more generally. On the one hand, while it’s probably not enormously important whether most people have a handle on the mind-body problem, a democracy can’t make ethics and political philosophy the exclusive province of cloistered academics. On the other hand, I look at the online public sphere and too often tend to find myself thinking: “Discourse at this level can’t possibly accomplish anything beyond giving people some simulation of justification for what they wanted to believe in the first place.” This is, needless to say, not a problem limited to philosophy. And I think it may contribute to the fragmentation and political polarization we see online, which are generally explained in sociological terms as an “echo chamber” effect or “groupthink.”

Those are real enough, but there’s also the problem that the general glut of information and opinion makes it disconcertingly easy to kid yourself about how well you understand a particular topic.

As should be obvious, the whole post is highly recommended. If you haven’t read it by now, do so.

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