November 2, 2001
The Anecdotage of Philosophy
"I love anecdotes... ," gushed Dr. Johnson, urging their swift and cheerful distribution. "If a man is to wait till he weaves anecdotes into a system, we may be long in getting them, and get but a few, in comparison of what we might.... "
Yet in philosophy -- that illusory house of mirrors where even foes of systems build systems -- anecdotes face a mixed reception.
Every philosopher knows that a grasp of the key ones counts as literacy in the subject. G.E. Moore declared he