Daniel Dennett, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (Mistake Specialists)

We philosophers are mistake specialists… While other disciplines specialize in getting the right answers to their defining questions, we philosophers specialize in all the ways there are of getting things so mixed up, so deeply wrong, that nobody is even sure what the right questions are, let alone the answers. Asking the wrong questions risks setting any inquiry off on the wrong foot. Whenever that happens, this is a job for philosophers! Philosophy – in every field of inquiry – is what you have to do until you figure out what questions you should have been asking in the first place. Some people hate it when that happens. They would rather take their questions off the rack, all nicely tailored and pressed and cleaned and ready to answer. Those who feel that way can do physics or mathematics or history or biology. There’s plenty of work for everybody. We philosophers have a taste for working on the questions that need to be straightened out before they can be answered. It’s not for everyone. But try it, you might like it.

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