Somewhat paradoxically, many people consider philosophy both very difficult yet at the same time eminently accessible—something you can parachute into, either from other academic disciplines or from no discipline: from science and drama and history of ideas, or from banking, big business, and bus-driving.

Quite a few professors, in various disciplines, display a craving to be allowed to wear the label “philosopher.” When a teacher of literature, or history, or whatever, parachutes into philosophy or one of its borderlands, the first thing he tries to do is move the boundaries and change the shape of the territory. If you suggest to him that his latest book is not strictly speaking philosophy as traditionally understood, but rather literary criticism (say) as traditionally understood, he will scream with rage and rush around yelling about the wickedness of “artificial academic...


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