Some interesting comments on philosophy and philosophers by Nigel Warburton, one of the two hosts of the best philosophy podcast, in an interview on the occasion of his resigning his academic post.
…that’s just the nature of philosophy. It’s always difficult… If you’re not having trouble then you probably don’t really understand what’s going on. Many people seem not to have trouble, but I know from doing these interviews that if you ask them direct questions in ordinary language some can’t answer without jargon and mystification.
A lot of professional philosophers lack the imagination required to think about what it’s like not to understand something. Some have got into a complacent habit of speaking to each other in a kind of technical language, which is almost at times the avoidance of doing philosophy. They’re part of a culture of people who always say the same things and make the same moves: just making finer and finer discriminations between whether they’re a particular kind of materialist or a particular kind of functionalist. People stake out little claims. When faced with the need to explain what they’re doing and why it should be of interest to anyone at all outside of that culture, many flounder.
Not the best ones, interestingly. The really significant philosophers are able to explain with superb clarity precisely what it is that matters about a topic. Not just for others with similar interests but for anybody who might be concerned with philosophy at all. Weaker philosophers hide behind a series of coded nods and winks to each other. This often betrays a lack of clarity of thought.
…The best philosophers convey such an enthusiasm for thinking… This has been wonderful for me on a personal level. …Meeting people who are both brilliant and enthusiastic about the subject has renewed my interest in it. It’s difficult to emerge unchanged from a conversation with someone who cares so much about the subject. It’s genuinely important to them. You catch philosophy from these people. (full interview here, emphases added)
I caught it a long time ago. Haven’t been cured yet.
It’s not really a disease though. It’s just humans expending some effort to use well something God has given all of us.