tom moody

Philosophy Student Interviews Artist

GF, a philosophy student, interviews FP, a visual artist with an MFA in studio art who shows in top museums around the globe. In his studies GF has come to think that contemporary philosophy, whether of the British analytical or continental post-structural model, is specious nonsense, so he seeks out an artist who famously scoffs at his discipline as it is currently practiced, to get her thoughts:

GF: So you don’t think philosophy has a defining feature?

FP: If there is a defining feature, it’s a secondary one, which is strange. As open as philosophy has become, it’s still very much constrained by one very conservative characteristic. That thinking is only thinking insofar as it is accepted into the academic system, or at least expressly wants to be part of that system. By this I mean it’s philosophy if it’s in a peer-reviewed journal, or it’s philosophy because a journal is where it belongs. It’s philosophy if it’s validated or presented as such.

GF: So if I just do something that I consider philosophy out in the street, it’s not philosophy? It wouldn’t be identifiable. I mean, it wouldn’t be a book or something, maybe a rant through a bullhorn.

FP: Your bullhorn rant would be philosophy since you consider it such.

GF: Why, because I say so?

FP: Sure. You’re the one validating it.

GF: Like Ayn Rand or Timothy Leary or whatever. So thinking that’s self-aware is philosophy, even if I’m the only one who ever knows about it.

FP: More or less. If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?

GF: I always thought it would. I never understood that one.

FP: Most times thinkers are looking outside of themselves for validation of their ideas, where in fact, should they have the strength to recognize it, their work is work insofar as they deem it so. It just gets more complicated when other things come into play, like wanting to be recognized by an acceptable audience or to get tenure or whatever. A lot of it is ego driven.

You may have determined this is fiction. It's based on actual interview where a philosopher who isn't embarrassed by her own quest for professional validation dismisses similar striving by artists as an insecure, ego-driven craving for recognition.

- tom moody

March 28th, 2011 at 10:17 am

Posted in general