The Fighting Mongoose

Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing. -Ambrose Bierce
A group weblog by the graduate philosophy students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What is philosophy?

Classes have started and we have fresh meat... er, fresh minds to torment... er, encourage to grow with our wisdom. I am wondering what you tell them philosophy is. If you think that what you actually tell them is an over simplification, then what is the correct answer?

Stanford Professor Ken Taylor of Philosophy Talk says that this of philosophy here:

"There is really no one thing that philosophers do and not much that unifies the mulipliticity of different things that philosophers do. Philosophy is what people who call themselves philosophers do. And people who call themselves philosophers do all sorts of things."

I've tended to go with the answer of Prof. Rick Schubert, which is something very much like: Philosophy is that discipline which attempts to formulate, understand and answer fundamental questions, through the use of reason, which are not sufficiently addressed by science or religion.


At 7:55 AM, Blogger Mark Arciaga said...

I'm much more inclined to agree with Schubert's assessment. Taylor's statement doesn't actually say very much, though it certainly sounds clever. Isn't what he says sort of like: tennis is the sort of activity that tennis players do? Another sort of answer in line with Schubert's is this:

Because it asks fundamental questions. Because it explores how to live a good life. Because it takes seriously the questions that arise in life and tries to answer them. Because it exposes and questions assumptions. Because it helps you find your own answers and your own standards for answers. Because it calls on both your creativity and your rigor. Because it uses all your interests and everything you know, from art and literature, history and social science, to mathematics and natural science. Because it makes you articulate in speaking and writing, clear in thinking and reasoning, and able to draw connections among ideas of all kinds. Because you have decisions to make, evidence to weigh, opinions to assess, mysteries to contemplate, a world to understand, a life to live.

Though this admittedly answers a "why" question, it would easily lend itself to a "what" question as well.

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