THE SOURCE: “There Is No Progress in Philosophy” by Eric Dietrich, in Essays in Philosophy , July 2011.
Western philosophy seems to have had a pretty clear evolution: from Plato to Descartes to Kant to Wittgenstein. Eric Dietrich, a philosophy professor at the State University of New York, Binghamton, begs to differ. “Philosophy is, except for some modernizing, exactly the same now as it has ever been. It has not progressed one iota,” he argues. And he’s no renegade—a number of his peers agree.
Compare the trajectory of philosophy with that of the hard sciences. If Aristotle were to sit in on an elementary college physics class, he would be mystified by some of the basic concepts—equations, gravity—tossed around by the students. Yet he would feel very much at home in an introductory philosophy class, where his works continue to command a spot on the syllabus. People are still grappling to understand some of the phenomena Aristotle wrestled with 2,400 years ago.
To read the rest of this article, please consider becoming a WQ subscriber, which allows online access to the current WQ issue as well as archive content. Other access options are below.
Research, browse, and discover more than 35 years of articles, essays, and reviews by preeminent scholars and writers. Our searchable archive of back issues is free for WQ subscribers.