I think what John is arguing is right, and important, even if I can't agree with every point he makes to get to his conclusion. What matters for our purposes is that part of his argument is about where philosophy comes from, and why that matters to political philosophy in particular (it is an argument he gets from Jacques Ranciere, who starts from a Marxist standpoint, and then John renews the argument for his own purposes). The point: philosophy is thought to emerge from the distinction between thinking about "real" things and thinking about "ideal" things. Otherwise put, it arises out of the split between concretion and abstraction.Good to know I'm not alone, though Jill is far more proficient at this type of thinking than I am.
Ranciere argues that this way of conceiving of the split covers over something important. The real line here is between the thinker and the maker, the philosopher and the artisan. Beginning with Plato, the philosopher claims the ability--and the right--to think about, define, and perhaps derive examples from the artisan. (You know: the carpenter builds table, the philosopher theorizes the Ideal Table in addition to theorizing Ideal Things more important than tables.) Two classes of human beings then form: those who think and those who make, or: those who think and those who are thought about …as if it were so easy to divide human beings into classes and say that one class is characterized by a gift for abstract thought and the other for the production of material goods.
Of course, history has shown that it IS "easy" to divide human beings into classes and then limit or make rigid their possibilities depending on which class they happen to find themselves in (or, at times, which class they select to be a member of). So John's point, via Ranciere, is that philosophy is born of a social and not merely a theoretical distinction. And then: philosophy is complicit in keeping that distinction alive.
I should add, in closing, that her blog is the first of several that I will be introducing to you over the next week. Look for the new links in the sidebar to the right. And check out her previous entries, which discuss her quest to find a screwdriver, among other things.