Dieci domande a dieci grandi pensatori: così The Philosopher’s Magazine ha deciso di festeggiare i dieci anni di attività.
Sul blog sono riportate le risposte a una delle dieci domande: “Has philosophy responded adequately to the big events and debates of the last decade, such as climate change and the post-9/11 world?” (La filosofia ha risposta adeguatamente ai grandi eventi e dibattiti degli ultimi dieci anni, come i cambiamenti climatici e l’11 settembre?).
La domanda oscilla tra il ridicolo e il provocatorio.
Jerry Fodor coglie l’aspetto ridicolo, e giustamente risponde “Has Art History responded adequately to the post-9/11 world? Why should philosophy be different?” (La storia dell’arte ha risposto adeguatamente all’11 settembre? Perché la filosofia dovrebbe essere differente?).
John Searle coglie invece l’aspetto provocatorio, e la sua lunga risposta merita una lettura integrale:
Problems like climate change or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are not really specifically philosophical problems. However, the capacity to reason philosophically has an important bearing on these problems, as it does on any serious intellectual problem, and I will illustrate that by discussing some of the points about “the war on terrorism”. There are two important philosophical mistakes made in current American and Coalition policy, and one of these may actually have some practical importance. The first point is that the expression “the war on terrorism” embodies a category mistake. If it is meant to be taken literally, “terrorism” names a method, and in the sense that one can have a war against Germany or Japan, it makes no sense to say we are having a war against terrorism. It would be like having a war against transportation. Now one might say, “Well, we are having a war against all terrorists.” But that, of course, is not true. There are many sorts of terrorists, such as the Basque terrorists in Spain or Irish terrorists in Northern Ireland, that we have not attempted to fight a war against. And this leads to the second point. In order to make sense of the war on terrorism, we have to interpret the concept of war metaphorically. Is it an apt metaphor for our current situation? I think the use of this term embodies a second mistake, which is the result of a very common fallacy, both in philosophy and among people in general. It is the fallacy of assuming that big events must have big causes. Because the attacks of September 11 were big events, we assume they must have big causes. But in fact, as far as we can tell, they did not. Here is the situation. Some years before September 11, there was an attempt made by similarly motivated Muslim terrorists to destroy the World Trade Center. They failed. Because they failed, no one took the attempt very seriously. They should have. Some years later, a group with the same inspiration – a group of fanatics – once again mounted an attack on the World Trade Center and other targets. This time they were both better organised and luckier. But the group (or groups) that mounted the first attack and the second never had more than a few thousand members, and is simply not a massive military force. Because the second attack was a big event, it was treated as if it merited a major international military response. In fact, the people we were fighting against were as confused and as fanatical as those we had dealt with before, or rather, failed to deal with before. However, once we announced that we were at “war”, we accorded them a status and a dignity that they had not previously had, and provided them with an ideal recruiting platform. As far as I can tell, al Qaeda has far more members now than it did before September 11, 2001.
Also, philosophically speaking, it is important to have a sense of scale. On September 11, about 3,000 people died. A terrible tragedy. Each day about 1,000 die in the US from smoking, and since the terrorist attacks about 100,000 Americans have been murdered. There are appropriate responses, but neither “war on smoking” or “war on murder” names them.
What should we have done instead? Instead of announcing a war on terrorism we should have announced a systematic and deliberate campaign to eliminate certain forms of terrorism. Attacking Afghanistan as part of this campaign seems to me perfectly legitimate. Attacking Iraq was a mistake, if only because Iraq had nothing to do with the events of September 11.
Secondo Searle, ed è difficile dargli torto, l’11 settembre non è certo un problema filosofico: è la politica a dover rispondere. La risposta (politica, non filosofica) all’11 settembre contiene tuttavia due errori che, prima ancora di essere politici, sono filosofici.
Il terrorismo è un metodo, ed è insensato dichiarare guerra al terrorismo se questa guerra viene pensate negli stessi termini con cui si è dichiarata guerra alla Germania.
Il secondo errore è forse più subdolo: tutti noi siamo portati a pensare che grandi eventi abbiano grandi cause, e quindi necessitino di grandi risposte. Non è così, ma è difficile non pensare che sia così. È difficile non pensare agli attentati dell’11 settembre nei termini di un attacco di una grande potenza militare.
Riassumendo in una frase la risposta di Searle, è la politica a dover rispondere, ma la filosofia può aiutare a rispondere adeguatamente.
Siamo (fortunatamente) lontani dal governo dei filosofi auspicato da Platone, ma siamo (fortunatamente) anche lontani dal governo dei politici.