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Philosophy as ‘edifying conversation’ The final metaphilosophical view we consider here is commonly associated with important figures of continental philosophy, perhaps Nietzsche and Derrida in particular, though arguably its clearest and most consistent advocate is Richard Rorty. According to the latter, ‘philosophy is not a name for a discipline which confronts permanent issues, and unfortunately keeps misstating them, or attacking them with clumsy dialectical instruments. 78 This view of philosophy is characteristic of what Rorty calls ‘edifying philosophers’, supposedly exemplified by Dewey, Heidegger and Wittgenstein, among others.
18 Hampshire appears to think his list is exhaustive insofar as the principal interest of philosophers is concerned, but this seems questionable. Certain branches of philosophy, arguably central to philosophy from the beginning, are hardly represented at all in Hampshire’s list, including the philosophy of mind (‘see’, ‘think’ and so on), logic (‘therefore’) and philosophical aesthetics (‘beauty’, ‘art’). But Hampshire’s fundamental intuition that there is some relatively limited number of notions that are, and always have been, central to what concerns philosophers – some ‘centre of gravity’, as we put it before – seems right.
All of science is in principle empirical, but the propositions of mathematics or logic 20 Ryle 1956. 21 Quine, in Magee 1982: 143. 22 Philosophy, Quine thinks, enjoys a similarly protected position in the web of science. Some, however, go further than Quine. So-called experimental philosophers explicitly regard philosophy as a straightforward part of empirical science and they cheerfully embrace the consequence that philosophy should be done using the established methods of empirical science. ) That the views of the experimental philosophers differ from those of Quine becomes clear once we confront the two parties with our test questions.