Should philosophy have something to say to non-philosophers? Should philosophy be pursued only by those trained in philosophy? Should academic teachers of philosophy consider themselves philosophers in virtue of the fact that they teach philosophy? And should analytic philosophers deny that continental philosophers are philosophers at all, or acknowledge that they represent different modes of philosophizing? Cogito poses some big questions to four prominent British and US philosophers.
That last was a bit of a leading question, though Jonathan Barnes offered an amusing response:
Well, most philosophers who belong to the so-called analytical tradition are pretty poor philosophers. (Most academics who do anything are pretty poor at doing it; and philosophy, or so it seems to me, is a subject in which it is peculiarly difficult to do decent stuff. A modestly competent historian may produce a modestly good history book; a modestly competent philosopher has no reason to publish his modest thoughts.) But there's a big difference between the analyticals and the continentals: what distinguishes the continental tradition is that all its members are pretty hopeless at philosophy.
See also Barry Stroud on alternative written forms:
Poems and aphorisms do not seem to me appropriate forms for carrying out philosophical work, even if they might be used to express or summarize certain philosophical conceptions developed by other means. Dialogue is a very good way to write philosophy, but it is difficult to do convincingly. I don't see much loss in trying to write philosophy in clear, connected, sharply focused prose. I wish more philosophers would try it.
And, on a more serious note, Raymond Geuss discusses the 'compartmentalization' of philosophical sub-fields:
The question is not whether a moral philosopher should or should not be interested in logic. Of course, in an ideal world moral philosophers would pay close attention to what all other philosophers said and wrote. They would also pay close attention to advances in biology, new forms of legislation, world history, economic theory, cosmology, and literature. We do not live in such an ideal world and so for us the real question is: given the limitations on human time and attention, what is the most useful thing for a philosopher who has a primary interest, say in political philosophy, to study? Is it more useful to study logic than economic history? To say that we know that this is the case a priori, by virtue of the fact that logic "belongs" to philosophy and economics does not, is to fetishize disciplinary boundaries that have no absolute standing.
That is one quote I wholeheartedly agree with. I'm no fan of strict distribution requirements, but I suspect many grad students would benefit from faculty advisors encouraging them to take appropriate courses in related "non-philosophy" disciplines. What do you think?