What is becoming of philosophy in the 21st century? There’s a great piece on that topic that just came out in the Chronicle of Higher Education Review. It is written by Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle, who both teach at my alma mater, the Philosophy and Religion Studies department at the University of North Texas.
We have devoted our lives to philosophy. We want the field to survive and, if possible, prosper. But it is increasingly doubtful that academic philosophy can thrive in an era of declining budgets, soaring debts, antipathy to tax increases, and new technologies such as distance education.
Of course, philosophy is secure at America’s elite universities. But what of the vast number of universities whose future is tied to the decisions of state legislatures or other financial conditions?
Field philosophy, found philosophy, public philosophy, experimental philosophy, philosophy of/as interdisciplinarity—these are all expressions of a growing feeling that change is afoot. We seek to promote this change. We view 20th-century philosophy as an aberration—academically challenging work that forgot half of philosophy’s task. It is time to strike out in new, intellectually exciting, and socially useful directions.
I did my BA and MA at UNT, and I am continually impressed with the developments taking place in my old department. I can think of no better place to study philosophy and religious studies in a way that is cutting-edge, rigorous, and socially relevant, especially in light of contemporary environmental issues (they specialize in environmental ethics). They are making incredible strides toward “integrating philosophic insights with problems on the ground.” In short, if you want to see 21st century philosophy at its best, you’ll need to take a look at UNT.