01 November 2010

Photography & Philosophy (again)

"I started philosophy looking for answers. But along the way I came to prize exploring the questions. Progress in philosophy consists, I think, in a clearer delineation of the conceptual options, not in reaching determinate conclusions." ~ K. Anthony Appiah
Anthony Appiah, New York, 2003. Photograph © Steve Pyke.

On several occassions I have posted on and borrowed shamelessly from the work of Steve Pyke, primarily his portraits of contemporary philosophers. You can find those posts here. Yesterday, The New York Times published this post by Pyke on its blog 'The Stone' (as in Philosopher's Stone). Here is what he says about the preoccupation with making portraits of philosophers:
"Despite being unknown at a time, the philosophers of an era survive longer in collective memory than wealthy nobleman and politicians, or the popular figures of stage, song and stadium. Because of this disconnect between living fame and later recognition, we have less of a record of these thinkers than we should. Our museums are filled with busts and paintings of long-forgotten wealth and beauty instead of the philosophers who have so influenced contemporary politics and society. My aim in this project has been the modest one of making sure that, for this era at least, there is some record of the philosophers."
Of course, Pyke is assuming that Colleges and Universities will continue to teach philosophy into the future - a sketchy bet given the vicissitudes of intellectual fashion and dire academic budgets! Yet, unlike players in other market places, it turns out that philosophers who play with concepts and questions that are not labeled with a "sell by" date and so have some longevity outside of textbooks and museums.

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