Philosophy in Play

Having just read the first dialogue of my professor Ermanno Bencivenga's Philosophy in Play, I thought it was worth sharing some of the best passages:

"...any action can be located in an indefinite number of contexts, of different (spatiotemporal) width, where different choices turn out to be natural. If the context of my present behavior is limited to myself and the last five minutes, an ontology of tables may be the most natural one, whereas if it's to be understood as mankind facing the world during this century, it may be just as natural to put it in terms of particles. So, instead of solving the problem, a reference to the context seals its mystery, for in order to use the expression "the context" meaningfully one must postulate the very act of choice among infinitely many alternatives that reference meant to account for" (29).

"I said that the presence of philosophers is advantageous for the community, but this doesn't mean--as one often thinks--that it's advantageous for it to have official institutions where philosophers can work...Because an institution must be something definite, with a set of rules, with well-defined "institutional" tasks, established once and for all...But here we're talking about a practice that contradicts all definitions , denies all boundaries, mocks all prohibitions. We're talking about a way of 'articulating' ideas that might frighten the very people who had the ideas in the first place...Indeed its a commonplace that philosophy is never done at the philosophy department...Which doesn't mean that the people doing philosophy shouldn't work and be paid in a department; in my opinion, however, they do philosophy precisely to the extent that they remain at the margins of the tasks for which they are paid, or even oppose them...Articulating a new philosophy is a value in itself, and if in order to convince people to do so it's necessary to use the rhetorical artifice of referring to the difficulties of the old philosophy then let there be artifice, let there be rhetoric, let those lies come forth that will earn us heaven" (43-44, my emphasis).

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