Author Information: Steve Fuller, University of Warwick, S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk
Christmas Greetings and the Best Possible New Year to Everyone in the Social Epistemology Collective!
Here are my SE-wishes to you for the New Year:
1. Beware of ‘Redneck Rationalists’ who claim to be defending science, reason, etc. but simply end up endorsing a retrenchment of established authority (aka ‘scientific consensus’). This is just a counsel of fear and conservatism, not to mention a stance very much against the spirit of the Enlightenment.
2. Learn from your successful enemies. Since success is always relative to context, it should be possible to extract the relevant lessons and outdo them in the next round. This doesn’t happen more often because people become enamoured of victimhood.
3. The only sense of ‘relativism’ that is definitely true is the one that Hegel recognised — namely, that success is relative to time and place. If you want to achieve something comparable to what others achieved or aspired to achieve in the past, you may need to do and say something radically different.
4. In this respect, ‘clarity’ about the content of what you’re saying or doing at the moment is not nearly as important as ‘clarity’ about the larger goal that you’re ultimately aiming for. It follows that much of academic (‘analytic’) philosophy actively inhibits political discourse by curbing its scope for rhetorical manoeuvring.
5. Take heart in the fact that every new generation forgets the preceding one, as that provides you with an incentive to re-introduce yourself to the world — as well as to remind yourself of who you really are.