Because they are so clear, they tell you nothing
Someone made a very funny comment on Stephen Law’s interview with Nigel Warburton on the subject of clarity. It’s hard to be sure whether the hilarity is intentional or accidental – I find myself hoping, perhaps maliciously, that it’s accidental, because if so it does so neatly make Nigel’s points for him. This point especially:
[M]any lightweight thinkers are attracted to Philosophy because it seems to promise them power through looking clever. Hiding behind a veil of obscurity is one way in which such people have traditionally duped their readership.
Now the dupe:
although you raise some good points about clarity, i think you are only rehearsing the rather tired analytic vs continental divide;clarity is certainly important, especially for politics and things of immediate public and moral interest…yet, philosophy to be philosophy should say things that are not just obvious; this is the problem with most analytic philosophy; it is one dimensional and the clarity reveals nothing. i mean, analytic philosophy is relatively shallow in its clarity, while that of hegel etc have great depth and enable us to think in ways that are perhaps not normal or obvious.this is what philosophy is for philosophy to be philosophy. For example, hegel and the traditions that follow hegel; or for that matter lacan and deleuze etc are not clear, they require repeated reading and thinking about, yet that is what is good about this kind of philosophy, after really wrestling with the language and the mode of expression, we feel that we are in fact thinking more deeply about the issues of philosophy. for me, nagel, ayer, etc are not the equal philosophically of hegel, deleuze, sartre etc because they are so clear, they tell you nothing.
That describes exactly the process Nigel meant, I think – ‘after really wrestling with the language and the mode of expression, we feel that we are in fact thinking more deeply about the issues of philosophy.’ Yes, we feel that we are, but that’s an illusion, created by the merely surface-level difficulty. And then the absurdity of saying that ‘because they are so clear, they tell you nothing.’ That’s so silly and so perverse that I hope it’s genuine and not a joke – but it’s so silly and so perverse that it probably is a joke. It’s too on-target to be accidental.