The book is now out, and OUP has done a lovely production job on it, and the photos are as distinctive and memorable as anyone familiar with Pyke's work would expect. But new to me were a number of quotes about philosophy from the photographic subjects. We've touched on this topic before, but here's a few from the new volume that caught my attention. (I should add that I strongly disagree with some of these, but find them all interesting and striking nonetheless.)
Malcolm Budd (UCL):
As I understand it, philosophy is the transformation of one's understanding of the world and everything of value within it by means of reflection on the nature of human life, the findings of science, and the great ethical, social, and artistic achievements of humanity.
Stephen Darwall (Yale):
What first attracted me to philosophy, and holds me still, is its universality. Philosophy is the great equalizer: anyone can do it, alone or with anyone else, anywhere, anytime. It requires no special equipment of expertise. It concerns issues everyone faces, and once they grab you, they don't let go.
Dorothy Edgington (Birkbeck/Oxford):
I was captivated by philosophy as soon as I discovered it. It's a wonderfully anti-authoritarian subject, making you figure things out for yourself from the start, and to subject all ideas to to severe criticism, including your own. It stretches the imagination to the limit. And it is an everlasting source of puzzles. The downside is that even on the rare occasions when you think you have managed to solve a problem, you never convince many others.
Elizabeth Harman (Princeton):
Philosophy can illuminate and vindicate our attachments and commitments.
Joshua Knobe (Yale):
What first drew me to philosophy was my admiration for those traditional thinkers--Aristotle, Hume, Nietzsche--who had no respect for disciplinary boundaries and just tried to think broadly about the questions of human life. My recent work in "experimental philosophy" is an attempt to go back to this more traditional conception of what philosophical thinking is all about, only this time to do so by conducting actual experimental studie using all the methods of contemporary cognitive science.
Philosophy is sculpture in the medium of questions. By chipping away what is irrelevant and distinguishing what is confused, it strives to transform intractable muddles into questions that might have answers.
Sidney Morgenbesser (late of Columbia):
Philosophy is the way we have of reinventing ourselves.
Peter Railton (Michigan):
Certain inconvenient questions bugged me, and drew me to philosophy: Do I have free will? Can I know anything? I morality real? Stumbling on Sartre's Being and Nothingness as a teenager, I felt a great sense of liberation and responsibility. The mind can make progress un understanding things! But understanding cannot replace action: if values are to come to life, we will have to have a hand in it. I worry: Other's sacrifices have given me the privilege of pursuing thoughts where they lead--will I have something to give in return?
Mark Schroeder (USC):
Doing philosophy well is as much about creativity, preparation, and imagination as about rigor and argument, as important as those are. If you want to see something different from what others have already seen, you need to stand someplace different.
Michael Strevens (NYU):
The point of philosophy is to defy common sense.
Crispin Wright (Aberdeen/NYU):
I have never understood Wittgenstein's idea that philosophy should leave ordinary thought and talk alone. Just as well that the evolutionary penalties for the muddle, schisms, and contradictions that pervade our conceptual lives seem to have been so much milder than they would be for matching levels of bodily dysfunction! But I agree that it is when it focuses on trying to unravel this heritage of 'knots of the understanding,' rather than indulge in the strange conceit of armchair super-explanations, that philosophy stands to advance our understanding.
So what do readers think?