Empiricists are supposed to be defenders of the truth-conducivity of natural science, but Locke's skepticism about real essences sits uneasily with his self-conception as an underlaborer
clearing the ground for scientific inquiry (pp.
When I spend any time at all with Chardin, I think of what the shade of Achilles says when Odysseus seeks to console him for having died: It is better to be alive, even as a poor, landless underlaborer
in the service of another man, than king over "all the perished dead.
That view is influenced too much by the old idea of philosophy as underlaborer
, clearing away the muddles.
For the lack of a positive metaphilosophy demonstrating the meaningfulness and autonomy of philosophy -- which, Donagan thinks, could consist only in a strong commitment to a priori methods, truths, and knowledge -- epistemically starved philosophers have returned faut de mieux to Locke's model of the philosophical underlaborer