Ok...David Brooks wrote this thing where he asked a liberal person who his favorite philosopher was, and when he said he didn't have one castigated him.
Then, someone writes into this modern world saying that people who have favorite philosophers are dilletantes.
The point Brooks was trying to make is undone by his snobbish ignorance. Point, as well as I can figure out, was that liberals really don't have any sort of understanding of the issues on a deep level, which, paradoxically, he sees having understandings of many different public policy options as evidence of.
Nope, philosophy is his litmus test.
Me, I'd be more inclined to believe that the guy who understood a diverse section of public policy options really understood politics rather than the guy who talks the conservative talk about philosophy.
Philosophy is wonderful, but Brooks seems to be using it as a ploy to discredit people. What if the guy had said "Marx"?
Or "John Stuart Mill"?
Wouldn't have gone over....I suspect that the only thing Brooks would accept as valid would be Aristotle, Plato, Burke, maybe Locke.
And this favorite philosopher game is a dilletante's game, truely. When you actually study philosophy you find that the nexus of ideas behind certain issues is more important than the actual writers themselves, and name brand recognition means less and less once you get a basic understanding down. In fact, name recognition is hurtful, or going by people based on name recognition is hurtful, because it tempts you to examine personalities and not the issues that they were writing about.
Which is probably why Nietzsche and Kierkegaard are popular with people but Kant isn't, although Kant is way more influential and central to philosophy than either Nietzsche or Kierkegaard (although I have a soft place in my heart for Mr. K.)
Kant, unlike the other two, is self consciously effacing. You get none of his self in his writings, only thoughts on the nature of consciousness and reality.
But real issues...