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I am currently a graduate student in the Philosophy and Religion Studies department at the University of North Texas. The few years I have spent in the academy have highlighted a striking disconnect between the culture of knowledge production and it subsequent use - it is an overwhelmingly internal system. The value and use of knowledge generated through research and scholarship rarely has a life outside of a particular field of study. My undergraduate experience in the sciences and graduate experience thus far in the humanities has revealed this common thread.
But many academics do not interpret this situation as a problem, and attempts at knowledge application in the world, such as public philosophizing, are often labeled as dilettantism - a watering-down of profound ideas that effectively strips them of value and meaning. I think this forum is a prime opportunity to engage with others who must also negotiate this fine line.
I am inclined to think that public philosophizing can, in a sense, help save philosophy from disciplinization, from the activity of negating its own relevance to the general public. If we are really committed to making the world a better place as philosophers, if we recognize a duty and a capability to do exactly that, then we ought to be reaching out to those outside of the academy.
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