Noelle McAfee asks “What Counts as Philosophy?” at Gone Public. She is wondering about professional philosophy, but I like to think about what counts as philosophy in our daily lives. Professional philosophy is just a more rarefied version of something human beings do anyway, and surely this is part of the reason why we believe it makes sense to to teach philosophy to undergraduates. As evidence for this I note the Guardian article of last week which several of the philosophy bloggers that I read were quite happy to report on. Another piece of evidence comes from an interview with Steve Martin that I heard yesterday morning on NPR’s Morning Edition. In the interview, Martin describes how he came to his very different approach to stand up comedy:
Studying philosophy in college at the time, Martin says he learned you can question anything. “So I turned it on my little comedy act, thinking, ‘What could I change, what would be different, what would be original, what would be new?’ And I realized that comedians of the day were operating on jokes and punch lines.”
So philosophy is not simply an academic discipline but the ability to philosophize has practical implications and can even be quite profitable in the right circumstances.