Presenter: Dr John Atkins

Over the past two or three decades ‘Quietism’ has attracted much scholarly interest, not least because of its non-scientistic approach to philosophy. In spite of this rise in popularity, Quietism remains little understood. Accounts of ‘just what Quietism is’ abound. In good Wittgensteinian fashion, one might attempt to employ a kind of family resemblance concept to describe how these elaborations might relate, however, this will not be my tactic. There is, I think, more to be gained by addressing arguments against quietism than there is in comparing different positive accounts (if that is even possible). Science-inspired realist traditions of philosophy help me to do just this: they provide a host of clearly articulated concerns. If some of the stronger realist positions can be shown to be vulnerable to quietist objections, we might be provided with an understanding of what quietism is not, helping us to see — without articulating a positive thesis — what quietism could be. This gradual convergence on quietism may help professional philosophers understand why some of their less career oriented colleagues have turned their backs on the modern academy and become very ‘quiet’.