NASHVILLE, Tennessee–Friday night’s launch of the Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation at The Parthenon attracted some big names from the public intellectual world.
Among the attendees was journalist and professor Carlin Romano, who’s known for his popular book America The Philosophical, which was released in 2012. In the book, Romano argues for a philosophy that “goes beyond the limited philosophy professions.”
“It’s not just a professional matter, but all sorts of people should be recognized as philosophers and lots of people are interested in philosophy who are not in academic philosophy,” he said, noting that he profiled in his book a number of journalists, scientists, broadcasters and so on who are engaged in philosophical debates.
“I’m always a supporter of anything that breaks philosophy out of the academic discipline and back into real world culture,” Romano said of the new Hodges Foundation, formed by Nashville businessman Mike Hodges.
Romano added some in the philosophy discipline think he’s “too critical of what they do,” but claimed his arguments are largely appreciated by the public because “people don’t want philosophy to be a specialized interest.”
He said the idea of the Hodges Foundation is similar to an effort started by billionaire Nicholas Berggruen in Los Angeles called the Berggruen Foundation, which has been “supporting philosophy for the last ten years.”
“Another businessman who cares about philosophy and wants to support it. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned,” he said of Hodges.
Romano thinks initiatives like the Hodges Foundation could become even more crucial in the coming years since the humanities, including philosophy, are “under siege” in academia.
“More important, most people are generally philosophical, and they should be able to have access to the best work,” he added.
All of the tragedies of life spur philosophical questions, said Romano, but the professional discipline does not respond to these questions. Instead, academia is preoccupied with “rarefied, nonsensical issues” and other matters that are “a waste of time,” said Romano.
Hodges seems to have a similar theory, and told The Tennessee Star that he hopes his foundation will help philosophy move beyond the confines of academia and offer a “broader, more open dialogue that you might not be able to have in a university setting.”
“And to the point about the academy and academia. This isn’t a swipe on it. It’s just constricted and narrow, right? They do spend time arguing about where commas should go, and sometimes they miss the forest for the trees that they’re arguing about,” Hodges said. “I think this foundation and the philosophy is a little more broad than that. It’s not so strict.”
Read more here about Friday night’s launch of the Hodges Foundation.
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[Editors note: Mike Hodges is chairman of Advance Financial, an advertiser with The Tennessee Star.]