So I happened to get to this part of the most awesome collection of articles bound to change the world forever and it sounded very familiar:
However, as promising as this point of entry [critique] appears, when we look about the battlefield of contemporary philosophy it very much appears that the project of critique today finds itself at a point of impasse in which it has largely exhausted its possibilities. Paraphrasing a title of a famous book by Paul Ricoeur, we could say that everywhere we look in both Continental and Anglo-American thought we encounter a ‘conflict of critiques’, without the means of deciding the truth or priority of these various critiques and which constitutes the proper point of entry into philosophical thought. The Kantians tell us that we must first reflexively analyze the a priori structure of mind to determine how it conditions and structures phenomena. The phenomenologists tell us that we must first reflexively analyze the lived structure of intentionality and our being-in-the-world to determine the givenness of the given. The Foucauldians tell us that we must analyze the manner in which power and discursive constructions produce reality. The Derrideans and Lacanians tell us that we must analyze the manner in which language produces the objects of our world. The Marxists tell us that we must analyze history and social forces to determine the manner in which the world is produced. The Gadamerians tell us that we must analyze our historically informed understanding inherited through the wandering of the texts through which we are made. The Wittgensteinians tell us that we must analyze ordinary language to determine how it produces the various pseudo-problems of philosophy. The list could be multiplied indefinitely. And among all of these orientations we find disputes within each particular orientation of thought as to how the project of critique is to be properly completed. How is one to choose among all these competing orientations of critique? Each mode of critique appears equally plausible and equally implausible, such that any choice takes on the appearance of being an arbitrary decision based on temperament, political orientation, and interest without any necessitating ground of its own. [The Speculative Turn, 262]
Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? So many philosophical opinions out there. Or as Hegel puts in it:
Thus we now meet the view very usually taken of the history of Philosophy which ascribes to it the narration of a number of philosophical opinions as they have arisen and manifested themselves in time. This kind of matter is in courtesy called opinions; those who think themselves more capable of judging rightly, call such a history a display of senseless follies, or at least of errors made by men engrossed in thought and in mere ideas. This view is not only held by those who recognize their ignorance of Philosophy. Those who do this, acknowledge it, because that ignorance is, in common estimation, held to be no obstacle to giving judgment upon what has to do with the subject; for it is thought that anybody can form a judgment on its character and value without any comprehension of it whatever. But the same view is even held by those who write or have written on the history of Philosophy. This history, considered only as the enumeration of various opinions, thus becomes an idle tale, or, if you will, an erudite investigation. For erudition is, in the main, acquaintance with a number of useless things, that is to say, with that which has no intrinsic interest or value further than being known. Yet it is thought that profit is to be derived from learning the various opinions and reflections of other men. It stimulates the powers of thought and also leads to many excellent reflections; this signifies that now and then it occasions an idea and its art thus consists in the spinning one opinion out of the other. [Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy]
So, if philosophy is full of opinions that claim to be true only to be replaced by the next set of opinion, then what are we do about it?
Faced with such a bewildering philosophical situation, what if we were to imagine ourselves as proceeding naïvely and pre-critically as first philosophers, pretending that the last three hundred years of philosophy had not taken place or that the proper point of entry into philosophical speculation was not the question of access? […] In short, what if we were to ‘bracket’ the project of critique and questions of access, and proceed in our speculations as the beginning student of philosophy might begin? This, of course, is impossible as the history of philosophy is, as Husserl might put it, sedimented in our consciousness. Nonetheless, we can still attempt such an experiment to see where it might lead. At the very least, such a naïve and pre-critical beginning might give us the resources to pose differently the philosophical questions we have inherited, thereby opening up new possibilities of thought and a line of flight from a framework that has largely exhausted itself and become rote. [The Speculative Turn, 262-63]
In view of such manifold opinions and philosophical systems so numerous, one is perplexed to know which one ought to be accepted. In regard to the great matters to which man is attracted and a knowledge of which Philosophy would bestow, it is evident that the greatest minds have erred, because they have been contradicted by others. “Since, this has been so with minds so great, how then can ego homuncio attempt to form a judgment?” This consequence, which ensues from the diversity in philosophical systems, is, as may be supposed, the evil in the matter, while at the same time it is a subjective good. For this diversity is the usual plea urged by those who, with an air of knowledge, wish to make a show of interest in Philosophy, to explain the fact that they, with this pretense of good-will, and, indeed, with added motive, for working at the science, do in fact utterly neglect it. But this diversity in philosophical systems is far from being merely an evasive plea. It has far more weight as a genuine serious ground of argument against the zeal which Philosophy requires. It justifies its neglect and demonstrates conclusively the powerlessness of the endeavour to attain to philosophic knowledge of the truth. When it is admitted that Philosophy ought to be a real science, and one Philosophy must certainly be the true, the question arises as to which Philosophy it is, and when it can be known. Each one asserts its genuineness, each even gives different signs and tokens by which the Truth can be discovered; sober reflective thought must therefore hesitate to give its judgment. [Hegel, again]
So those who inform us of the well-known fact that there are in fact many philosophical opinions are giving up on philosophical search for truth and play around because apparently that is all they are capable of since they have abandoned that search for truth that drives all true philosophy. With an “air of knowledge” they add yet another opinion to the pile, not claiming to know the truth, but just playing around to see what happens.
As to this reflection, the next thing to be said of it is that however different the philosophies have been, they had a common bond in that they were Philosophy. Thus whoever may have studied or become acquainted with a philosophy, of whatever kind, provided only that it is such, has thereby become acquainted with Philosophy. That delusive mode of reasoning which regards diversity alone, and from doubt of or aversion to the particular form in which a Universal finds its actuality, will not grasp or even allow this universal nature, I have elsewhere likened to an invalid recommended by the doctor to eat fruit, and who has cherries, plums or grapes, before him, but who pedantically refuses to take anything because no part of what is offered him is fruit, some of it being cherries, and the rest plums or grapes.
But it is really important to have a deeper insight into the bearings of this diversity in the systems of Philosophy. Truth and Philosophy known philosophically, make such diversity appear in another light from that of abstract opposition between Truth and Error. The explanation of how this comes about will reveal to us the significance of the whole history of Philosophy. We must make the fact conceivable, that the diversity and number of philosophies not only does not prejudice Philosophy itself, that is to say the possibility of a philosophy, but that such diversity is, and has been, absolutely necessary to the existence of a science of Philosophy and that it is essential to it.
So it looks as though the first view is: “But there are so many philosophies! Where do I begin? Isn’t it easier just to pretend that the last 300 years didn’t in fact take place and play around with some words and concepts?”
While the second view is: “Yes, it is obvious that there are many philosophies, but they are all philosophies and therefore they are after the same result. Instead of treating them as competing claims, why not treat them as necessary steps of the universal search for truth? Instead of using the diversity as an excuse to abandon true philosophical pursuit of truth, however cool and sexy the result might appear, why not work even harder at it, taking the diversity as a blessing, not a curse?