...a popular work on philosophy is far from obvious, though the most likely explanation is the long-standing hostility of the NYREOB's editor, Robert Silvers, towards philosophy. But he certainly got the hatchet job he wanted. From the 'review':
In more recent centuries, philosophers were still leaders of human destiny. Descartes and Montesquieu in France, Spinoza in Holland, Hobbes and Locke in England, Hegel and Nietzsche in Germany, set their stamp on the divergent styles of nations as nationalism became the driving force in the history of Europe. Through all the vicissitudes of history, from classical Greece and China until the end of the nineteenth century, philosophers were giants playing a dominant role in the kingdom of the mind.
Holt’s philosophers belong to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Compared with the giants of the past, they are a sorry bunch of dwarfs. They are thinking deep thoughts and giving scholarly lectures to academic audiences, but hardly anybody in the world outside is listening. They are historically insignificant. At some time toward the end of the nineteenth century, philosophers faded from public life. Like the snark in Lewis Carroll’s poem, they suddenly and silently vanished. So far as the general public was concerned, philosophers became invisible.
The fading of philosophy came to my attention in 1979, when I was involved in the planning of a conference to celebrate the hundredth birthday of Einstein. The conference was held in Princeton, where Einstein had lived, and our largest meeting hall was too small for all the people who wanted to come. A committee was set up to decide who should be invited. When the membership of the committee was announced, there were loud protests from people who were excluded. After acrimonious discussions, we agreed to have three committees, each empowered to invite one third of the participants. One committee was for scientists, one for historians of science, and one for philosophers of science.
After the three committees had made their selections, we had three lists of names of people to be invited. I looked at the lists of names and was immediately struck by their disconnection. With a few exceptions, I knew personally all the people on the science list. On the history list, I knew the names, but I did not know the people personally. On the philosophy list, I did not even know the names,
Alas, it does not occur to Professor Dyson that this last anecdote would equally well support a different conclusion than the one he prefers. But at least Dyson likes Nietzsche (though I can only imagine what he thinks Nietzsche means).
UPDATE: Ned Block (NYU) suggested I open comments on this item, observing that, "There are a number of what look to me to be factual mistakes in that article but it would be nice to hear from experts." So comments are now open for comments on the substance of the review. Signed comments will be strongly preferred.