This series of meetups are exercises in off beat philosophy, meaning that I shall approach philosophy in unorthodox ways, but in ways that aim at instruction and intellectual stimulation.
We shall continue our realistic evaluation of philosophy (as a discipline and as intellectual activity) by looking at three historical cases in which the philosophical practices of the time were seen as blocking progress.
Francis Bacon includes philosophy as one of his Idols ("Idol of the theater") which confuse the mind and inhibits methods of effective inquiry.
Charles Darwin, according to Ernst Mayr, only was able to initiate the type of thinking and research that led to his theory of natural selection after he set aside the accepted principles and methods of philosophy in first half of the nineteenth century.
The later Ludwig Wittgenstein identified the traditional and orthodox modes of philosophical thought as contributing to conceptual confusion, impeding any progress to a clear understanding of many philosophical issues.
For those who like background reading, here are some websites to check out:
THE NEW ORGANON OR TRUE DIRECTIONS CONCERNING THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE (1620),
Expecially note articles XLIV, LXI -> LXV
Lastly, there are Idols which have immigrated into men's minds from the various dogmas of philosophies, and also from wrong laws of demonstration. These I call Idols of the Theater, because in my judgment all the received systems are but so many stage plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion. Nor is it only of the systems now in vogue, or only of the ancient sects and philosophies, that I speak; for many more plays of the same kind may yet be composed and in like artificial manner set forth; seeing that errors the most widely different have nevertheless causes for the most part alike. Neither again do I mean this only of entire systems, but also of many principles and axioms in science, which by tradition, credulity, and negligence have come to be received.
Ernst Mayr : "Darwin's Influence on Modern Thought"
Ludwig Wittgenstein, from the Philosophical Investigations
See Part I paragraphs #112 - #118
(Wittgenstein is a difficult read, but surely worth the extra effort. Commentaries can help sometimes, but beware of commentators who understand less than they misunderstand of Wittgenstein's style.)