Why does the Chronicle of Higher Education continually have people write articles making claims about Philosophy who do not know much about philosophy? (And for once I’m not being annoyed by Carlin Romano!)
For the record, if you find yourself tempted to write an article about John Stewart Mill, and you find that on reflection a good title for the article you have written is “The Forgotten Philosopher”, well…
It’s hard to explain how wrong this review is about so very much (though the book may well be interesting), but, for example:
Any book that inspires college sophomores is likely to be dismissed by professional philosophers as, well, sophomoric. But shouldn’t we judge a work of political philosophy by how long it continues to inspire debate? By that standard, On Liberty is a classic.
Not only this standard, in fact, but basically any other standard you’d care to think of! I mean, good grief people. Mill is probably the most famous Utilitarian ethicist. He is read in more or less any introductory ethics class you’d teach at a college level – either Utilitarianism, or On Liberty (if the class has a more political bent). This puts him at roughly the level of Aristotle or Kant. And I have yet to hear him despised, sneered at, or dismissed – or at least no more than any other philosopher is treated this way. He. Is. Not. Obscure. Or. Forgotten.
Also, as more of a side note, this particular understanding of the state of philosophy currently –
Contemporary academic philosophy is riven by a great divide: Either you adhere to a Continental perspective identified with Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger that addresses big speculative subjects like the Essence of Being, or you identify with the British and American analytic school that puts a priority on rigorous logic, language, and meaning.