Appeared in Spring 2002, Vol. XXVII, No. 1
Some years ago, in a surmise casual and conversational, a professor remarked that western philosophy began by thinking about things, moved on to think about thought, and in the last century had settled on thinking about language.1 He went on to wonder whether a kind of circuit had been completed and philosophy could return to reflect on things once again. Aside from revealing his own proclivity for thinking about things, this philosopher’s conjecture is notably broad and sweeping, an attempt at expressing an understanding as expansive as it is comprehensive. In itself, the statement hardly seems remarkable. Nevertheless, such generalizations often appear dangerously audacious in the present era of highly expert, academic specialization. Despite the tendency of introductory courses to rely on such broad statements, academics tend to eschew them. Hamlet might say that mere data, not conscience, has made cowards of us all.
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