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#32178 - 09/30/09 07:40 PM What does philosophy do?
coberst Offline
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Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
What does philosophy do?

I claim that the task of philosophy is to look inward to find the basis for the presuppositions that form the foundation for all human created theories. I claim that in our first effort to look inward primitive humans saw thier mortality; they hated what they saw and immediately sought a means to successfully repress that thought. That solution turns out to be what we today call religion.

Long ago a professor of philosophy said to me, after my asking him what philosophy is all about, “philosophy is a radically critical self-consciousness”. It took me 30 years to comprehend what he said.

“But I'm a philosopher, and it's a philosopher's job to tell people how they should lead their lives.” Thus wrote Linda Hirshman in an article in the Washington Post. Linda R. Hirshman, is a retired professor of philosophy and women's studies at Brandeis University.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/16/AR2006061601766.html

If I had read in the morning paper some doctor saying “it is the doctor’s job to tell people how they should lead their lives.” I would not have blinked. I have no problem with a doctor making such a statement but a philosopher making such a statement certainly will cause a pause.

A retired professor of philosophy from Brandeis University cares weight with me and when such a person says something startling I must give it some heed; I must pause to reflect and study the meaning of that statement.

Reflection on this statement reveals to me that human life is really a philosophical endeavor. We do not realize it but every thought we have, every decision we make, and every action we take are based upon some philosophical assumptions. Philosophers have molded these assumptions into theories that now form the very essence of our life.

We ‘know’ what is real, what is knowledge, what is moral action, how the mind works, etc. because these philosophical theories permeate every aspect of our life. Metaphysics is a philosophy word that really means ‘what is real, what is time, what is essence, what is causation, etc’.

I guess I will give the professor an “A” here. It is a philosopher’s job to tell people how they should lead their lives.

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#32179 - 09/30/09 08:37 PM Re: What does philosophy do? [Re: coberst]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...


"I will say nothing of philosophy except that it has been studied for many centuries by the most outstanding minds without having produced anything which is not in dispute and consequently doubtful and uncertain." -- Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method.

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#32181 - 10/01/09 03:59 AM Re: What does philosophy do? [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
Revlgking Offline
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Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
Philosophy is the wife of religion. Together they gave birth to the sciences, the technologies and the arts.
_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#32182 - 10/01/09 05:43 AM Re: What does philosophy do? [Re: Revlgking]
eccles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 149
"wife of religion" ? laugh

Historically, religion has "worn the trousers" and philosophy has yearned for divorce from an ignoramus!

Those who would have philosophers "tell us how to lead our lives" have been indoctrinated by their religious captors.


Edited by eccles (10/01/09 05:55 AM)

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#32198 - 10/03/09 06:43 AM Re: What does philosophy do? [Re: eccles]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia

Lets have some fun and DEFINE THE TERMS of this debate.

What is Philosophy?

Coberst has (at last) given a bit of an indication a to what s/he feels it is. He/ She suggests that it is a sort of solution to the problem of the origin of religion.

Dictionary definitions however give more scope for answering the question posed as in:

1a. The study of the nature of knowledge and existence and the principles of moral and aethetic values.

1b. the philosophical principles or teachings of a specified group, period or field of study.

2. the sum of beliefs and attitudes of a specified individual, person or period.

So the discussion, with or without a clear defining statement could wander through a very wide area, much wider than the one suggested by coberst in the first place.

So I ask again. What do you mean by 'philosophy', coberst? I mean--- do you really think that Philosophy's job is to tell people how to live their lives? If so-- which philosophy will you recommend ?--- there are some ghastly and dire ones lurking around the place with as many diverse byways as there are people!!

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#32201 - 10/03/09 11:54 AM Re: What does philosophy do? [Re: Ellis]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: Ellis

Lets have some fun and DEFINE THE TERMS of this debate.

What is Philosophy?

Coberst has (at last) given a bit of an indication a to what s/he feels it is. He/ She suggests that it is a sort of solution to the problem of the origin of religion.

Dictionary definitions however give more scope for answering the question posed as in:

1a. The study of the nature of knowledge and existence and the principles of moral and aethetic values.

1b. the philosophical principles or teachings of a specified group, period or field of study.

2. the sum of beliefs and attitudes of a specified individual, person or period.

So the discussion, with or without a clear defining statement could wander through a very wide area, much wider than the one suggested by coberst in the first place.

So I ask again. What do you mean by 'philosophy', coberst? I mean--- do you really think that Philosophy's job is to tell people how to live their lives? If so-- which philosophy will you recommend ?--- there are some ghastly and dire ones lurking around the place with as many diverse byways as there are people!!


I am convinced that philosophy is as I wrote in the OP: "Long ago a professor of philosophy said to me, after my asking him what philosophy is all about, “philosophy is a radically critical self-consciousness”. It took me 30 years to comprehend what he said.

I might add that another professor told me that the meaning of philosophy is itself a philosophical question. The meaning of philsophy is to vast to be contained by mere words.

I might add that I consider Critical Thinking can usefully be regarded as philosophy light.


Edited by coberst (10/03/09 11:55 AM)

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