The raw material of a career in philosophy are the fragments the great figures offer us and which we glean slowly over time from the pages of their works and in inumerable conversations with our peers. We arrange them into manuscripts and conference papers, and later create new configurations for future publications. We are constantly arranging and organizing the thoughts of others into a pattern which includes our own minimal contribution. Typically, my own fragment is the smallest of the lot. The rest are the thoughts of other thinkers. But, at least, the arrangement itself is original and novel, and may be noteworthy and of interest to others. Is that it? Well, the arrangement may offer a new understanding of some issue or problem befuddling many, so that the order of the fragments is of some importance, or it may be preparatory to a grander research agenda.
If philosophy is judged meaningless because, it is said, the subject ‘doesn’t make a difference’, it should be asked immediately what paradigm stands behind the use of ‘makes a difference’. Usually, it is something like ‘injecting penicillin prevents certain infections and diseases’, which clearly cannot be applied to philosophy. Philosophy is not like that. What is it like, then?