I previously blogged about Professor John Haldane’s new appointment at the Vatican. As I was perusing the high-brow ecumenical journal First Things, I was excited to run across an article on philosophy by Haldane entitled “What Philosophy Can Do.”

In it, Haldane summarizes and critiques the current state of philosophy. He contends that the divorce between the the untrained thinker and the trained professional stems from the misguided understanding of the role and nature of philosophy. Specifically, it has become divorced from the interests and language of the naturally curious because it has neglected the issues of mind, soul, and God.

Haldane’s positive thesis regarding philosophy is interesting and persuasive–it amounts to a rejection of a notion of abstract thinking that philosophy inherited from Liebniz and Hume. If nothing else, it explains why “possible world” modality may not actually be useful for describing and interpreting reality.

If you can, read the whole thing. It’s well written and worth the effort.

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • An interesting read, to be sure, though increasingly confused toward the end.

    I think his central philosophical point becomes hazy (or dubious) when viewed through the lense of some recent history. The matter of fact/matter of reason distinction in Hume and Leibniz broke down, not from the criticisms of Quine, but rather, because it turned out that the distinction consisted of several other distinctions. Thinkers had been sloppy, thinking that the a priori, the necessary, and the analytic all coincided. Turns out, they don’t. Saul Kripke made this insight some thirty years ago, and out of this started a research program that ‘made metaphysics respectable’ again. There’s a lot more to be said on the topic, of course.

    Thanks for posting the link.