A Conversation for How to Be a Philosopher

The task of philosophy

Post 1


An OK entry, even though it does give credence to such ridiculous questions as: "What is proof? Is there such a thing as proof?" On the whole it gives the impression that philosophers are interested primarily in playing pointless mind games.

The main problem is the explanation of the task of philosophy. According to the entry, there are two:

"The first is said to be a search for truth, but many philosophers say they don't know what the word 'truth' means, while other philosophers don't think it exists at all. The search for the ultimate question is, alas, not the central concern of most academic philosophers, but that doesn't mean everyone else shouldn't have a go."

Truth? This is a part of metaphysics. (Not epistemology because truth functions independently of human consciousness.)

"The second task is about the application of logical thinking to everyday questions, concepts, and ideas that are often taken for granted. This kind of conceptual analysis serves (in theory) to clarify debate. There's no point arguing about justice/knowledge/perception/human nature unless we have some idea about what kind of things these terms might mean."

Conceptual analysis? Again, this depends on a larger whole.

The task of philosophy is to provide an integrated view of existence. Philosophy is the science that guides man's conceptual faculty.

One other thing: the title and the first paragraph give the impression that philosophy is an optional pursuit. “…man, by his nature as a conceptual being, cannot function without some form of philosophy to serve as his guide.” (Peikoff, Leonard; OBJECTIVISM: THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND; p.1).

“You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles.” (Rand, Ayn; PHILOSOPHY: WHO NEEDS IT; p.5)

The task of philosophy

Post 2

Otto Fisch ("Just like the Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973")

I'm sorry, LDT, but you have a very strange view of philosophy which can only come from never having studied the work of many philosophers.

Questions about the nature of proof are not "ridiculous", but are important questions in the philosophy of science. It's not a "pointless mind game" to try to work out what the nature of scientific method. It's a question that's vital to the future progress of science, as is becoming ever more important.

You can't criticise an entry on the purposes of philosophy by taking philosophical conclusions for granted. You make some assumptions about truth which may or may not be accurate, but you can't approach philosophy with conclusions already made. If you are trying to pre-define what the task of philosophy is based upon some pre-existing idea, then what you're doing is not philosophy but some kind of closed-theory dogmatisim that has more in common with religion.

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