In the previous post and the links within, it is pretty obvious that I love Rebecca Goldstein and her work. I’ve read (and loved) pretty much everything she’s published and I’ve seen her in person a couple of times. I watched a video of a second talk of hers at this year’s recent HTLGI2019 at Hay-on-Wye after the one I reviewed earlier, though I suspect the two were delivered in the opposite order.
I suspect that because in the one I reviewed first she makes a crack about the difficulties for women in philosophy, especially with a high voice in her case. In this one, despite the fact this is material she knows well, the delivery is indeed quite annoying in terms of the tone of voice and breathless pauses.
As far as the content is concerned, as well as her oft repeated references to the Axial Age rise of philosophy’s normative questions, she is right that in the same way today’s new science tends to look like magic until absorbed invisibly into tomorrow’s familiar technology, philosophy’s questions of the time tend to get taken-up empirically by the science of tomorrow, philosophy still has a purposeful future. The normative and existential questions never go away, they just turn up in guises of the new day. The fact the questions never go away doesn’t mean philosophy doesn’t make progress any more than science doesn’t make progress. For both, the answers change to address the prevailing problems of the day even if the underlying form of the questions barely change.
How do I / we matter once we’ve satisfied those basic Maslow needs?
I am a full-fledged, grown-up adult.
I’m tryin’ make a dent, tryin’ to get a result.
I’m holed up in a Hollywood hotel suite.
Tequila to drink and avocado to eat.
I can imagine anyone not already in love with her finding this not the easiest talk to listen to and pick-up on her message, but she’s worth it.