12 Pages

Introduction: Philosophy and mystification

There are two currents that run through this book, both of which set it in opposition to a practice and conception of philosophy that can be traced back to the seventeenth century and is exemplified most clearly in Descartes. One current flows from the view that the business of philosophy is not with some special kind of truth, such as Descartes sought, a truth higher and more elusive than that found in the everyday world, a truth requiring special techniques for its discovery. The contrary view informing this book is that the object of philosophy ought to be clarity and putting order into our thoughts and our ways of talking about the everyday. These thoughts often enough get tangled when ways of talking that have been developed in one area or field get transferred to another, or come up against ways of talking devised for entirely different subject matter and for different purposes. That view of philosophy and the resources it can appeal to is discussed in chapter 1 and is exemplified throughout the following treatments of particular tangles and confusions endemic to the modern era.