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STFU, Simon Critchley (and the NY Times, also).

So the internets have been buzzing(ish) with news of the New York Times’ new philosophy-related online forum, The Stone. Gawker (strangely enough) had a post on it and Brian Leiter referred to its moderator, Simon Critchley as "a complete hack". After reading Critchley’s first article, I’m inclined to agree. 

Here is an extremely in-depth summary:

What is a philosopher? This one philosopher, Thales, fell into a well. He was looking at the sky. This is a metaphor. Silly philosophers. Water clocks are stealing your time, except only if you’re a lawyer. Lawyers have no souls, but they are successful, unlike PHILOSOPHERS. Silly philosophers, you have time, but you also don’t, but mostly you do. Your heads are always in the clouds. This is important: PHILOSOPHY KILLS. This is because Socrates once died, and he was a philosopher. Also, Bertrand Russell didn’t get a job once. Because of blasphemy! Silly philosophers. You are so anti-establishment and whatnot. This is why the Athenians killed Socrates. Were they right? I dunno. Whatevs. 

Some highlights:

The philosopher’s clumsiness in worldly affairs makes him appear stupid or, “gives the impression of plain silliness.” We are left with a rather Monty Pythonesque definition of the philosopher: the one who is silly.


Thales believed that water was the universal substance out of which all things were composed. Water was Thales’ philosophers’ stone, as it were. Therefore, by falling into a well, he inadvertently presses his basic philosophical claim.


Pushing this a little further, we might say that to philosophize is to take your time, even when you have no time, when time is constantly pressing at your back. The busy readers of The New York Times will doubtless understand this sentiment. It is our hope that some of them will make the time to read The Stone.


 Far from eloquent, Socrates insists, the pettifogger is “perplexed and stutters.” Of course, one might object, that ridiculing someone’s stammer isn’t a very nice thing to do. 

Thank you, Critchley, for regaling us with anecdotes and making philosophers out to be otherworldly clueless schmucks as you babble about some water/time metaphor forever and make jokes about speech impediments while sucking up to the NYT readership.


P.S. Stanley Fish, don’t think I haven’t noticed your column in the NY Times. I’m coming for you next(ish).

Filed under NY Times Critchley water STFU dinguses Gawker Leiter Reports