Remembering Michael Dummett

Stone-michael-dummett-blog427Simon Critchley, Hilary Putnam, Tim Crane, Timothy Williamson, Dorothy Edgington, Crispin Wright, and others remember Dummett in the NYT. Simon Critchley:

As is well known, professional philosophers are broadly and lamentably divided into two opposed camps: analytic and Continental. It is Dummett’s conviction that the only way to reestablish communication amongst philosophers is by going back to the historical and conceptual point where those traditions divided. This is Dummett’s strategy in his hugely influential 1993 book “Origins of Analytical Philosophy.” Dummett recounts the history of analytic philosophy from Frege onwards in the laudable hope that a clearer understanding of the philosophical past will be a precondition for some sort of mutual comprehension between contemporary philosophers. He wrote:

I do not mean to pretend that one should pretend that philosophy in the two traditions is basically the same; obviously that would be ridiculous. We can re-establish communication only by going back to the point of divergence. It’s no use now shouting across the gulf. It is obvious that philosophers will never reach agreement. It is a pity, however, if they can no longer talk to one another or understand one another. It is difficult to achieve such understanding, because if you think people are on the wrong track, you may have no great desire to talk with them or to take the trouble to criticize their views. But we have reached a point at which it is as if we’re working in different subjects.

Dummett was a wonderful example of how philosophers might behave towards each other and usefully engage with the public realm. His death is a massive loss.