BV: Ludwig, you are generally quite critical of academic philosophy. What then do you make of your students, many of whom went on to have pretty normal academic lives? For example, what do you think of Anscombe, who many now consider the best among your students and an exemplary philosopher in her own right?
LW: Anscombe was intense. She would focus in on a problem and battle with it. But this doesn't mean I agreed with her! Or that she was a representative of my views! She was skeptical of the cogency of the philosophy problems from the early modern period (the mind-body problem, utilitarianism vs deontology, and so on), but she was generally more accepting than I was of the coherence of traditional philosophy problems, such as those inherited from Aristotle. She certainly would go on and on about Aristotle and Aquinas! This is a big difference between us. For me metaphysics is metaphysics, and I see all of it as a confusion. But for Anscombe there is a distinction between bad metaphysics (Descartes or Leibniz) and good metaphysics (Aristotle), and she saw her life project as defending a good metaphysics of human beings and highlighting its practical implications. That is certainly not how I saw things!
BV: It is ironic, isn't it, that you routinely told your students to leave academic philosophy, and yet the best of your students went on to become academics and never showed any of your torturedness about being academics?
LW: The best of my students? I don't think of Anscombe, Malcolm and so on as my best students! They were students I was close to, yes. They were students I depended on, yes. But did I think that these students would continue my life's work after I died? No. Because philosophy as I think of it is the deeply personal activity of rooting out one's own confusions so as to be at peace. It is a constant effort to see things just as they are, and not by gaining new knowledge we didn't have before, but by having the courage to see aright what we already know but refuse to see! This seeing aright no one else can do for me. That is each person's task and burden. My philosophy consisted of my attempting to clear my confusions. There was therefore nothing to pass on after I died as a philosophical tradition in my name.
BV: But you are an industry and a tradition, just like Plato or Spinoza or Kant. All your unpublished works were excavated and catalogued, and scholars pour through them to cull the insights from your gnomic sayings to see how they apply to traditional philosophical problems. Isn't this what your writings are meant for? If not, what is the point of the Philosophical Investigations?
LW: Maybe I should have burned my manuscript! This is exactly why I didn't publish it in my lifetime. Because I saw what people did with the Tractatus. I clearly said in the preface of the Tractatus that it was not a text book, and that only people who have already had the thoughts expressed in it will understand it. The book was not meant to teach others what to think. It was an expression of my journey from tortured philosophy to peace. If the book resonates with you, then it might move you to write your expression of your own journey. And yet people started treating it like a text book, and sought to use it for defending their philosophical views, even though if the book is right, no such views are sensical to begin with! But they brushed this off saying, "Oh, the genius says funny things!" I did not want to publish again when it was clear that my form of writing would be so grossly misunderstood. And after my death this is what has happened with the Investigations as well.
BV: What do you mean that your writings are not text books? In one sense this seems true of all philosophy books; they don't present conclusive knowledge. But do you mean something else?
LW: Definitely something else! In the sense you mean, even Russell's Philosophy of Logical Atomism is not a text book. Russell didn't discover once and for all how language works or what things exist, or whether there are a plurality of things in the world, and simply pass on such knowledge in the book. Rather, he considers some traditional problems of philosophy and suggests possible answers to those problems. Russell's book is not a text book in the sense that his answers are not definitive. But when I say my books are not text books, I mean something different altogether. I mean that my books are not addressing philosophical problems in the traditional sense at all! I am not saying: "Here is a problem (say, whether there are universals), and here is my attempted solution to it". Rather, I think there is no problem of universals, and so no solution of the kind Russell offers is needed. But since we are so hooked into thinking that there is a problem of universals, what is needed is to free ourselves from that illusion. What is needed are not answers, but therapy. And my writings are nothing more than a record of my own self-therapy. If they are useful, they might help others undertake their own therapy.
BV: Surely you are being modest or too hard on yourself. What about all the ideas in the Investigations which seem interesting and new, and rich with possibility for understanding ourselves? Ideas such as language games, family resemblances, seeing aspects, the private language argument, the relation between pain and pain behavior, and so on?
LW: Modesty is not something I am known for! Ha! You fail to understand the true import of my work. The value of my work does not lie in coming up with new ideas which will help solve philosophical problems. Rather, the value, as I have often said, is in assembling reminders. For example, what stroke of genius enabled me to come with the idea of family resemblance? None! Because what is needed to hold on to that idea is not a stroke of genius (the way one might think up a solution to a math problem), but the courage and the will to see what is already in front of us. That concepts are defined by family resemblances is not a solution to any problem; it is simply to state what is the case, and which anybody could see by thinking of all the different things that fall under a concept. Seeing this feature of family resemblances helped me become less entangled from the problem of universals, such that the problem stopped bugging me. And the same is true for all the other ideas you mention, such as language games, seeing aspects, and so on. All of these are ordinary ideas which anybody can think of if they just attend to everyday life more.
BV: When then do you make of the thousands of articles and hundreds of books that have been written and continue to be written on what exactly you meant by family resemblances or language games and so on? If the ideas you talk about are so ordinary, why is there such a strong sense that the concepts are murky and need elucidation?
LW: Well, the concepts certainly require elucidation, because they are not clear to us. This is what I tried to do in my own work on myself, to seek such elucidation of the concepts of pain, meaning, self, and so on. But this doesn't mean that such elucidation is to be sought by writing journal articles and trying to decipher what I meant by this or that term. For ultimately the point isn't what I meant by, say, language games, but what you and we mean by pain, self and so on! To be free of the confusions of philosophy, you need to get elucidation for yourself on the contours of these concepts. That is the primary task. The problem with scholarly writing is that it pulls away from this primary task. It doesn't allow for one's urgent, beating heart to find expression because such personal urgency can seem "unprofessional", too subjective, too focused on oneself rather than on the institutionally defined standards of what is a philosophical problem and how it is to be addressed. This was always my disagreement with Russell! I would say, "You have good ideas here, but they are lost in the elaborate framework of scholarly writing. You should take your ideas, focus on them, and forget about what presentation they should be given. But you presume to know ahead of time what expression your ideas are supposed to have (a quotation here, a footnote there, a chapter ending here!), and the spirit of your ideas are suffocated by the clothing they are being forced into! And they end up being mostly repetitions of what other people have already said with your ideas sprinkled here and there." But Russell never listened to me. He was too wedded to the idea that he was a professional philosopher, and so he needed the expression of his philosophical ideas to be in a professional idiom. What he saw as the necessary professional framework for his ideas, I saw as the stifling of his creativity.
BV: Would you say the same thing about the writing of your students? After all, Anscombe's essays don't seem any less professional or academic than Russell's or Ayer's essays. If anything, Anscombe's essays seem even more academic, because they are even harder to understand. A non-academic could at least read Russell's Problems of Philosophy or Ayer's Language, Truth and Logic, but it is safe to say that a non-academic has no hope of understanding Anscombe's Intention.
LW: Yes, yes, you are right! That is the dilemma! Russell thought that philosophy is a kind of abstract science, and so he saw no problem in philosophy being an academic profession, just like physics or biology. Therefore he also thought it was natural that philosophical writing should have a set format, the journal article model, which would exemplify the professional standards of the subject. I don't think that philosophy is an abstract science, or indeed anything positive at all, so for me this whole framework of professional writing goes out of the window. But what do you do if, like me, you think that philosophy is not a science (and not even a transcendental science the way Kant or Husserl thought) and yet, unlike me, you want to be a professional philosopher and write journal articles? Once you give up the idea of philosophy as a science, where do you get the notion of standards which are supposed to undergird the professional writing model? This was the situation Anscombe and Malcolm and others were stuck in. They wanted to rail against the scientism in the philosophy profession, and yet they wanted to make those arguments precisely in the journal article model which presupposes a scientific view of philosophy. So they were stuck in between me, on the one hand, and the philosophy profession, on the other hand. The views they attributed to me weren't really my views. They were my views insofar as they could be contorted and made to fit into the journal article model. That is why Intention is so hard to read. The text doesn't breathe easily the way a Russell essay does or my Investigations do, because in both of these cases the form of the writing is clear; Russell is trying to emulate science, and I am explicitly doing my own thing. But Intention is trying to be both at once, and that is why there is a kind of torturdness about the writing.
BV: But you can't deny that there are great ideas in Intention, such as non-observational knowledge, explaning an action in terms of another action, and so on?
LW: Of course I don't deny it! There are some really good ideas, which can be grasped by focusing closely to our everyday practices. The idea of non-observational knowledge, for example, is extremely intuitive and powerful, but in a way Anscombe is just like Russell. Whereas Russell would take a beautiful idea and cover it over with all sorts of metaphysical, scientistic jargon, Anscombe covered it over with Aristotelian jargon. I told her that she would go futher if she forgot about Aristotle and just focused on where the elucidation of the concepts led. But because she wanted to be an academic, she needed something to ground the sense of her professional expertise, and since on her view philosophy isn't a science, she found that grounding in reviving an ancient philosophical tradition.
BV: You seem pretty blase about Aristotle. So you don't think that there is a special affinity between your views and Aristotle's views?
LW: I most certainly do not! The history of philosophy is just the history of philosophy. There are no special hero philosophers pitted against devious villan philosophers! How absurd! If there is anything good in philosophy, that is shared by anyone who does philosophy. And the stupidity which philosophers are prone to is shared by all philosophers.
BV: There is a popular view that puts Plato, Descartes, Hume, Mill, Russell, etc. on one side, and Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Hegel and you on the other side. The idea is that the first group consists of shallow metaphysical philosophers whose views are crudely individualistic, and the second group consists of great, deep philosophers who views are normative and communal. What do you think of this?
LW: What craziness! Who made up these groups?! It is as arbitrary as putting Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz on one side, and Locke, Berkeley and Hume on the other side, and then saying that the issue of rationalism vs. empiricism is a timeless problem of philosophy! It is so tempting to think that there is a single narrative to history, as if all along philosophy has been a clash between these titans, and that philosophers even now are called to take a side in this ancient battle. What hogwash! There is no one narrative of history, no one overarching division among philosophers, no us versus them on the central philosophical problems. How could anyone put me on one side or the other when I don't even believe there are any real philosophy problems!? What matters in philosophy is to gain individual peace from philosophy. Peace not just from this or that view, or this or that philosopher, but from the whole subject. It all stands or falls together!
BV: It all stands or fall together? That sounds like you are robbing philosophy of any criteria of rightness or wrongness, of getting things right, of avoiding the false views and acquiring the true views. As if there is only mass confusion. But you must yourself agree more with some people than others in philosophy? Don't you agree more with Hacker or Cavell or McDowell than with Lewis or Fodor or Block? After all, the former are Wittgensteinians in some sense and the latter are not.
LW: Oh, Wittgensteinians! Give me a break! Why do I have to agree more with Hacker than with Lewis? I disagree with both! "Wittgensteinian" is just a professional identity. It has nothing to do with me! We wouldn't peg a non-academic as a Wittgensteinian, because it would be unclear what that even meant. What are we then saying they are not? That they are not a Russellian or a Humean? But what does that mean when applied to a non-academic? The primary context for these identities is to highlight a professional philosopher's standing in relation to other professional philosophers. To say that an academic philosopher is a Wittgensteinian is to say that they have published a fair amount on my writings. Or that in defending their own views they frequently invoke some things I have written, as if they are extending my view. Or that they are inspired by my views and that inspiration shines through somehow in their professional work. That is all. There is no essence to my philosophy which a Wittgensteinian is close to grasping. Even though the image of grasping such an essence, of really understanding what I believed, is essential to the professional practices of defining who is and who isn't a Wittgensteinian.
BV: So you don't think Wittgensteinians are capturing what you really believed? If not, what are they doing? I mean, what do you think of, say, Hacker's books on your work?
LW: I don't understand most of it! I have no idea what he is talking about! I find it easier to understand what Kripke or Wright or McGinn are up to when they write about me, because they are not even attempting to look at my work as a whole. Their aim is to get from my writings some arguments that fit with their conception of philosophy, as if they are going to take what they can use in the way they want and discard the rest. Fine! At least they are explicit this is what they are doing. But Hacker gives the impression that he is capturing the essence of my view, including my belief that philosophy is a disease, and that he agrees with me. It is this last part I don't understand! If he agrees with me, why is he spending all his time writing about what I believed, instead of doing the main work of seeking the peace himself? What does he think? That I did the hard work, and now all that is left to do is to explain it to other people? But whatever I achieved cannot be passed on to others in that way! Each person has to achieve it for themselves. They have to give voice to their own temptations and struggle to bring back the words to their everyday use. What is the reader of Hacker's books on me supposed to do? Think "Yes! Wittgenstein is right!"? Well, and then what? Since Hacker isn't modeling how to do therapy himself, it is impossible for his readers to do that therapy themselves!
BV: Dreben is famous for having said, "philosophy is nonsense; the history of nonsense is scholarship". And he seemed to hold most philosophy in disdain. He didn't publish much, maybe from the sense that what he would write would be philosophy and so nonsense. Is this kind of view closer to yours?
LW: Certainly not! One doesn't get peace from philosophy just by declaring it nonsense, and then washing one's hands of it. If only it were so easy! And my view can't be reduced just to the idea that philosophy is garbage! If that were so, then every scientist who thinks that philosophy is useless and every parent who worries that philosophy is a waste of time would be a Wittgensteinian. No! One has to earn the peace of living beyond doing philosophy. One has to do the hard work of freeing oneself from philosophy. The work is needed precisely because philosophy can seem so innocent and pure even as it is hurtling our minds into a chasm of confusion! I have no idea why Dreben was a philosophy professor. What was the point of it? He didn't think philosophy was producing knowledge, and he didn't seem to be struggling to overcome philosophy either. So what was he doing? Being a sounding board for Quine and Rawls. Well, that is something. But that is certainly not how I did philosophy.
BV: Perhaps McDowell is closer to you in terms of doing philosophy. He seems to really struggle with the problems. He says he is a quietist and that philosophy can't provide a positive constructive view but can only help us shed the confusions we fall into in philosophy. Doesn't this sound like your view?
LW: McDowell is in the same situation as Anscombe and Malcolm. How do you accept my kind of view of philosophy and still engage in all the professional trappings of writing journal articles and conference talks? After all, the format of the journal article and conference talk suggests the social passing on of cumulative positive knowledge. That is the biggest problem for McDowell! Fine, he is a quietist. So what is he doing writing articles as if he is one more worker in the philosophy factory, and what is he doing having graduate students? What is he imparting to the students? His form of life as a professional seems no different from Fodor's, and yet how can that be given the vast differences in how they conceive of philosophy? Could it be that their philosophical disagreement has no reflection in their ways of being a philosopher? There is a coherence between Fodor's thinking and his professional life. He thinks what he is doing is basically like science, and so his professional form of life looks like a scientist's. But what kind of a professional life can one have if one doesn't think philosophy is like a science? That too if one thinks there is no positive knowledge in philosophy? In my own life these kind of questions drove me to constantly think of leaving philosophy, because I was worried that I couldn't think of philosophy the way I did and still be a professional at the same time. That there was no way to codify the process of seeking philosophical peace, so that it can simply be passed on from advisor to student, or from colleague to colleague. At the level of battling with our philosophical temptations, we are alone! Not that we can't share the battle with others, but ultimately the nuance of the battle will be different for each individual. How can a quietist balance his philosophical views with his professional life? That is an important question.
BV: McDowell might respond that as a professor he is passing on a kind of knowledge. It is the knowledge of the pitfalls of certain kinds of philosophical problems and of how we can see our way out of those problems. That is what he does in his essays. He takes particular problems (the mind-body problem or subjectivism about values, etc.) that seem to have set answers in logical space, and tries to reorient the problem so that we can be freed of the problem. This is a kind of method for dissolving problems. Why not say that McDowell is an expert at this method and that is what grounds his professional expertise?
LW: How absurd! How can McDowell's method as a professional be to dissolve philosophy problems even as the main aim of the profession he is a part of is to teach those problems, in their traditional form, to students? While McDowell is saying in a seminar room that Descartes' dualism is a confusion which results from not appreciating second nature, in the intro class down the hall the students are being taught how brilliant and fascinating Descartes' arguments for dualism are, and how the issue of dualism is still a live issue! That's the thing: you can't teach quietism in an intro class! "--Hello, welcome to introductory philosophy. In this class we will learn how most traditional philosophy is a confusion. --But, professor, we don't even know what traditional philosophy is." If quietism can't be taught in an intro class, what kind of professional expertise is it? One can't say that it is advanced philosophical knowledge which requires preliminary introductory courses, the way one might in a physics or a computer science class. For in the case of quietism, the advanced knowledge explicitly aims to unravel what one had been taught in the intro classes! If dissolving philosophy problems is McDowell's professional expertise, then as a professional he has to have some view of what his conception of philosophy implies for the general practices of academic philosophy such as teaching students, evaluating journal articles for publication, tenure decisions, and so on. Given that McDowell hasn't addressed these issues, his view seems hard to understand. Not because it is so deep, but just because it is unclear what it would mean if everyone agreed with him. If everyone agreed with McDowell, what would happen to academic philosophy? Rorty said most academic philosophy is confused, and followed through at least with some ideas on how the profession has to change if his view is right. But McDowell says most philosophy is confused and yet has remained quiet about the institutional implications of his view, as if there are no such implications to worry about.
BV: Maybe McDowell doesn't want to judge other people in the profession. Rorty could be condescending because he seemed to imply that philosophers as smart as David Armstrong, Derek Parfit or Judith Thompson were being silly or stupid or insincere just because they happened to disagree with him and were generally ok with the direction of the profession. Perhaps McDowell doesn't want to be condescending. He is simply laying out what he believes and giving his reasons. Why should he try to change the system and make things political rather than just focus on the ideas?
LW: What a funny question. McDowell argues that proper enculturation enables people to see things aright. And that if one is not educated or brought up well, then the person's ability to grasp reasons will be affected. But he also claims that much of modern philosophy is confused. Given that modern philosophy is the basis for much of our current philosophy education, one might think that McDowell would be somewhat concerned about the possibility that the students being enculturated with modern philosophy might be led astray and that their ability to grasp reasons is being negatively affected. But he is not going to raise these issues of pedagogy because he doesn't want to judge people? Because he wants to be a good colleague who doesn't raise thorny or embarrassing practical questions about philosophy education? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
BV: Well, I imagine it must be hard to balance being a good colleague with saying that the projects one's colleagues are working on are basically confused. In what way can McDowell and Chalmers be good colleagues? It seems to reduce to basically their being nice to each other. But it is not like they can engage in sustained philosophical discourse together, because they don't even agree on the nature of the mind-body problem, and whether one is seeking an answer to the problem or trying to dissolve it. But maybe it is better to just try to be nice and get along, rather than to call each other confused or shallow. Perhaps McDowell is just trying to be nice. Isn't that a good thing?
LW: Being nice is over-rated! What is interesting and important between McDowell and Chalmers precisely is their difference in how they think of the mind-body problem. By being nice they can talk to each other, which in turn can make it look like they can reason together, even though as a matter of fact they might not get enough traction with each other's views to reason together in any substantive sense. Reasoning together presupposes broad, shared background practices. Just in virtue of both of them being philosophy professors, do McDowell and Chalmers share enough of the background practices to engage in a substantial rational conversation? Not necessarily! This is what I found annoying about Ayer and Carnap. They would say, "Hey, we are all philosophers. So of course we can reason together!" And I would say, "Leave me the hell alone! By claiming to reason together you are unconsciously just imposing your form of life onto mine, and running rough shod over habits and patterns of living which I hold dear and which you are not even sensitive to!" Reasoning together is an achievement that two people have to work on. It is not something that follows just from wanting to reason together. Someone who disrupts the standards forms of reasoning helps highlight the limitations of those standard forms, and all the ways in which different voices and forms of life are unable to enter the conversation so construed. Often an easy affirmation that the conversation is open to all only ends up unconsciously renforcing the structures which keep out some voices! That is the question for McDowell: if he doesn't challenge institutionally the mode philosophy discourse and how it is taught in the profession, isn't he unconsiously reaffirmly precisely the Enlightenment sense of disembodied rational discourse? What he criticizes with one hand, he seems to reenforce with the other hand.
BV: Is this why you wrote the way you did, in a way that was as far removed from the journal article model as possible? So that you could make a dent in the institutional momemtum and highlight alternate models of philosophical conversation?
LW: Yes, that's right! Often people dismiss the form of my writing as if it were the quirk of a genius, a mere idiosyncracy. What they fail to see, and are perhaps afraid to see, is that by writing as I did I was seeking to broaden the conception of what rational discourse looks like. How though being rational can sometimes look the way Hume or Carnap wrote, it doesn't have to look that way. That there is no one mode of rational discourse. That sometimes rational discourse can take on a deeply personal form, that a certain kind of rational discourse in philosophy can be, and has to be, resolutely autobiographical. That in philosophy we are not seeking merely to merge into the universal voice of the they, but that we are attempting to merge the I with the We, and trying to find a space within ourselves where the individual and the communal converge, where the subjective and the objective cross paths to create a glimmer of transcendence. That art is not irrational, but is rationality taking on a non-discursive form. That philosophy sometimes needs to be done as art in a discursive form. That such philosophy can enable the grasping of reasons which might otherwise remain hidden from us!
BV: What you are now saying sounds very similar to some things Cavell says. Do you think Cavell is a real Wittgensteinian?
LW: There is no such thing as a "real" Wittgensteinian. Give up that idea! There is no essence to my philosophy. But Cavell gets some of the spirit of my work. Because ultimately what he is interested in is working through his ideas and his life. He takes the idea of therapy seriously, and he brings philosophy in touch with his concerns. One senses him struggling against the limits of expressibility because he uses his writing not as a space of the obviously expressible, but as the grounds for struggling with what is expressible, and what means. He could have been just a Wittgenstein or an Austin expert, but he pushed through to try to find his own needs in philosophy, and to give voice to them in the way he found himself being called to. He didn't rest content with the set template of what philosophy should look like, but tried to stretch of boundaries, and create new hues and new textures of philosophical expression. That is like what I tried to do as well.
BV: So you think Cavell managed to balance doing philosophy the way you did while being an academic?
LW: No, I wouldn't say that! In fact, with Cavell we can see why philosophy in the theraputic mode cannot be a profession. With Cavell philosophy is resolutely autobiographical. But that raises the question: how could philosophy be a profession if all its practitioners did philosophy in such an autobiographical way? A profession presupposes the idea of standards, of some communal norms which capture which ideas count as knowledge and which practices count as rational. But Cavell uses autobiography as a way to challenge the set standards, as a way to question what a philosophical engagement with an idea (skepticism or morality) looks like. Autobiography in this sense is the space where the philosopher questions the communal norms he has internalized, and seeks to rethink them while risking being alienated from his community which is defined by those norms, including the philosophy community itself. This is philosophy as a space of potential alienation, of questioning so persistently that the very sense of a standard might start to break down. Now, how do you make philosophy in this sense into a profession? What would intro classes of this kind of philosophy look like? What standards can one use to grade the student papers? Suppose a student wrote their essay the way Cavell writes, with layer upon layer of autobiographical reflections. What if every student in the class wrote that way? How would the teacher grade such essays?
BV: I suppose the same question can be raised about the professors' writings as well, if everyone wrote like Cavell.
LW: Yes, this is the worry that most professional philosophers have with Cavell's writing. Because Cavell constantly qualifies everything he writes with an autobiographical slant (not: "here is my view on skepticism", but "here is how I find myself engaging with skepticism"), it is unclear what evaluating his ideas means. What does it mean to disagree with someone's autobiographical ruminations? It is easy to imagine what agreeing or disagreeing with Jackson's Mary argument looks like. But what does agreeing or disagreeing mean when one is talking about how one feels tempted by skepticism only to be repelled by the isolation it implies, only to yet again find the saving grace of the human condition in such separation, only to withdraw from it again, and so on? What is one to do with that? If one finds it interesting, one might write in the same way oneself. And if one doesn't find it interesting, one might just set it aside. This seems to border on being a matter of taste! Of how one prefers to do philosophy. How does one use seeming matters of taste to decide tenure cases or which article gets published or which student essay gets an A? How does one use taste as an arbiter without setting up the sense of the profession as an esoteric, inner clic with the people in power simply deciding which writings get it and which writings don't? This is what people said about me! That I foster a cliquish mentality and divide the profession into groups of those who get it and those who don't, and that in this way I was being a divisive influence on the profession! I could understand this objection, and often tried to leave the profession just because of that. When one thinks of philosophy as therapy, it is a pressing question whether philosophy can be professionalized. And it not enough to just acknowledge the issue and go back blissfully into the seminar room. One has to face up to the issue through and through!
BV: It seems like there is no pleasing you. If someone writes like Russell, you say it is a confusion and so shouldn't be made into a profession. And if someone writes like Cavell, you say it is too autobiographical and so can't be made into a profession. If there is no philosophy profession, how would people learn to think deeply about their lives?
LW: The philosophy profession can itself be an obstacle to people thinking deeply! How many ordinary people spend their time thinking about quantum mechanics or about how to build bridges? Not many, because it is obvious to them that they don't have the expertise to think about those issues. If we say that philosophy is a profession just like physics or engineering, then it is natural for people to think that they don't have to think much about the deeper issues of life, because like with physics and engineering, the philosophy experts are taking care of the philosophy issues! The way to show that everyone has a responsibility to think deeply about their lives is precisely by showing that philosophy is not the province of any particular profession at all. You want more people to live reflectively? Then instead of pointing them to philosophy professors, point them to people who are not professional philosophers who nonetheless value philosophy and reflect on life for their own edification. People in general will be able to identify much more with such non-professional philosophers, and through that identification they will be able to discover their capacities and interest for philosophy.
BV: But you think the aim of philosophy is to not do philosophy anymore. So why should ordinary people bother to do philosophy at all if it is such a bad thing?
LW: I am not interested in telling people that they ought to do philosophy. The fact is that people normally find themselves afflicted with philosophical questions and worries just in the course of everyday life. Instead of taking on the responsibility of dealing with the affliction themselves, most people think that they need to look to some experts to tell them about philosophy. And, of course, just through such looking sheepishly to others the people bury deeper their ability to think philosophically! Any person with an affliction wants a cure. Looking to others to provide a cure which can come only from oneself is to condemn oneself to the affliction for life.