Say Something PhilosophicalMarch 30, 2010
I was once out to dinner with some friends when an acquaintance, whom I had just met, paused and asked me to “say something philosophical.” Occurrences like that happen more often than I care to recount, but here’s a nice overview of a recent poll distributed to philosophers (including me) that tells much the same story.
The PhilPapers study, by David Chalmers of the Australian National University and David Bourget of London University, surveyed academics at 99 leading philosophy departments around the globe, over 90% of them in the English-speaking world and nearly two-thirds in America. Some 91% of the respondents thought they belonged to the analytic tradition and 4% the “Continental” one. When asked which dead philosopher they most identified with, a clear winner emerged, with 21% of the votes: David Hume, the 18th-century thinker, historian, sceptic and agnostic who was a close friend of the economist Adam Smith. Aristotle, Kant and Wittgenstein took second, third and fourth places. The next six spots went to philosophers from the 20th century, most recently Donald Davidson, an American who died in 2003. Plato made 13th place and Socrates limped in at 21st.
Read the article for more… and if you’re really brave, you’ll check out the actual poll results.