Competence in Compensating for Incompetence: Odo Marquard on Philosophy

The Pluralist 13 (2):50-71 (2018)
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This article is an introduction to the metaphilosophical thought of the contemporary German philosopher Odo Marquard. He understands the philosopher’s competence as a competence in compensating for incompetence or, with a German neologism, as Inkompetenzkompensationskompetenz. I offer two interpretations of Marquard’s most famous notion. Both interpretations have been developed in order to answer a central question: if philosophers are incompetent, how can they live with their incompetence? The first interpretation goes back to Marquard’s early work. It leaves no option for philosophers but to flee into dogmatism or skepticism. The second interpretation is inspired by Marquard’s pluralist later work. It advocates what I have called 'philosophy with a human face'.

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