The tyranny of method: a pragmatic defense of philosophical pluralism

The history of philosophy is in no small measure a series of attempts to institute a fail-safe method. In response to what they take to be the scandal of disagreement (disagreement itself being judged as scandalous), a number of historically influential philosophers (e.g., Descartes, Peirce, Husserl, and Carnap) have time and again tried to craft a method for guaranteeing agreement. In light of the failure of these attempts, this tendency might be seen as remotely analogous to what is called in psychoanalytic parlance a “repetition compulsion.” In any event, historical reflections on this repeated tendency promise to be illuminating. But there is a polemical purpose animating these historical reflections. The author tries, in light of these reflections, to render plausible the suggestion that this tendency amounts to a tyranny of method and, in turn, such tyranny results in an inevitable impoverishment of philosophical thought.


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