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Anthony Flood

Pathways Mentors: Anthony Flood

As I see it, to philosophize is to argue rigorously (persistently and consistently) about one's experience of existing, of knowing, and of valuing; to communicate one's arguments to others; and to engage their arguments, especially when they are critical of one's own. What emerges from such persistent and consistent thinking about experience is a philosophy.

My philosophical efforts since 1969 have yielded at least one guiding insight: what belief one holds is virtually nothing; how one holds it, everything. (Do I exaggerate? If so, by how much?) Over this generalization mankind divides into philosophers and nonphilosophers. And so the compelling, or upsetting, argument for or against theism, for example, will fascinate both the philosophical theist and the philosophical atheist while leaving their respective nonphilosophical associates either cold or outraged.

Mine is neither the first nor last word about anything, and my writings must reflect cognizance of this. (In philosophy as elsewhere, to reinvent the wheel is to spin one's wheels.) And if I am to have any hope of their being of use to others, they must bear the impress, duly credited, of earlier participants in the ongoing conversation.

Chronologically, my strongest influences have been: Brand Blanshard (since 1975); Eric Voegelin (1977); Bernard Lonergan (1979); Charles Hartshorne (1982, but intensely since 2001); and Alfred North Whitehead (1982, but as modified by Lewis S. Ford [2001]). In 2004 I discovered, happily and at long last (at least at long last to my prosaic mind), someone who seems able to make sense of man's symbol-making nature in general and promises to do the same for art in particular. Her name is Susanne Langer (1895-1985). (It was in front of me all along: Lonergan cited her; she had studied under Whitehead.)

And although he was not an academic philosopher, Murray N. Rothbard (since 1983) was such a sterling personal exemplar of the non-mainstream scholar — as well as a friend whom I very much miss — that I simply cannot exclude him. Another dear friend (and fellow Rothbardian) since 1983 has acquainted me with the merciless criticism that an academic home provides: James A. Sadowsky, SJ, Professor Emeritus, Fordham University. As one of the institutionally homeless, I am a better philosopher for having sparred with him often, sometimes weekly, over the years.

The combined writings of my philosophical creditors form, of course, a hopelessly inconsistent set of propositions, and my evolving synthesis will continue to retain some and discard others. No one can deduce a priori which will be stored as wheat and which burnt as chaff, but there is no need to deduce: a public sorting has begun. Interlocutors, inquisitors, and just plain visitors are welcome at www.anthonyflood.com.