domingo, 8 de enero de 2017

What is philosophy?

To ask what philosophy is, is to ask for the definition of the term "philosophy." A term, however, can be defined in different ways, either by showing the objects to which it applies, or by providing information that allows us to identify such objects . Ideally, in the case of "philosophy" would be to offer this last type of definition. However, this is not possible because of the diversity of themes, problems, purposes and styles that the term covers. The only thing that can be done about it is to offer a vague characterization that, although it does not pick up the essence of philosophy, gives us an idea of ​​it.

Almost all philosophers pretend to tell the truth in their reflections and it is the desire to find it which gives rise to them. Although it is sometimes said that all they are trying to understand is the fact that a good understanding usually implies a certain conception of truth. This does not mean that occasionally philosophers do not have other kinds of pretensions as well; It can even be said that the overall purpose of some of his works seems to be mixed: outside the truth they also pretend to move to action or to cause an emotional impact. However, almost all philosophy can be better understood if it is conceived as having claims of truth, although philosophers differ in their concept of truth and in the activities they carry out to determine it.

Taking into account the above, the philosophical activity can be characterized as the attempt to formulate, justify and / or evaluate problems and their solutions. These problems can be interpreted philosophical texts or refer to topics such as human knowledge, right behavior, the origin of what exists, the characteristics or more general characteristics of what is, the meaning of life and happiness, Society and human culture, etc. The styles in which the solutions are expressed are also diverse: meditations, dialogues, treatises, aphorisms, essays, are some of them.

It is characteristic of philosophy a strong ambivalence: sometimes emphasizes solid argumentation and conceptual clarity, sometimes, however, is little argumentative and is expressed in a difficult language. Sometimes it deals with general and abstract themes, sometimes with specific or specific aspects. Sometimes it has systematic pretensions and omniabarcantes and sometimes it is dedicated to problems of detail without intention to establish any connection between them. At times, he believes that the search for fundamentals is his most important task (although what he considers fundamental depends entirely on his approach and his interests), at times declares this company failed and puts most of the issues on the same level. Usually, philosophy questions almost everything. As a result, it not only has different evaluation criteria, methods and notions of truth, but also has proposed different forms of society and culture, different visions of reality (whatever may be understood by it) that are not Correspond to the thinking of the majority. But there are also times when philosophy has become conservative, attacking that which calls into question the order and the beliefs accepted by the majority. 


The role of the philosopher 

From the above it follows that the philosopher's functions may also be diverse. In general, philosophers are dedicated to the formulation, justification and / or evaluation of philosophical problems and their solutions. Some philosophers consider that this task is eminently discursive, theoretical and conceptual. Others believe that beyond that, the practical aspect must also be included, that is, from the saying to the fact. For example, among philosophers who have the subject of their reflections on human society and culture there are those who consider that their functions are merely theoretical and those who consider that they must also pass into practice. Sometimes the philosophers of the latter type try to persuade those of other subjects to come to theirs. The discussions in that sense do not cease, but each one is already committed to this, already with that form of doing philosophy.

The usefulness of philosophy 

Since philosophical products are so diverse, they include such different subjects, it is to be expected that each of them will have different applications. For example, the new social, political, economic, or cultural orders proposed by philosophy would give rise to societies very different from ours, if taken seriously. Postures such as realism, phenomenalism or solipsism, if understood, would imply a change of vision similar to that experienced by a person going from a vision of common sense to a scientific view of reality. Various historians of science have recognized, on the other hand, the importance of philosophy in the origin, development and organization of various areas of study. Psychology, sociology, and political science are some of them.

But sometimes the question of the utility of philosophy becomes the matter of the profit or profit which can be drawn from it. The profit that can be drawn from philosophy is relative and depends on factors such as the creativity of those who want to take advantage of it and what it is intended to take advantage of. Some have found in philosophy the peace they sought, others the ideological sustenance of their political discourse or the north they required for their lives, and so on. But there are also those who have made their lives more bitter when they come in contact with her and who have committed the greatest atrocities in her name.


Sometimes the question of the usefulness of philosophy becomes the simple and plain question: what do philosophers live in? Well, the great majority of those who exercise philosophy live by dictating class already in schools, or in universities. Some also receive money for research. Others are employed in Non-Governmental Organizations defending the environment or human rights or are part of a political group whose ideas are disseminated and defended.


Philosophical School Discussions

Sometimes the different schools or philosophical tendencies engage in endless discussions about what is philosophy and what is not philosophy, excluding each other from that area. Sometimes these discussions are motivated by the desire for dominance, in which case it is the struggle of the schools to gain a place in history, in the universities, to dispute the resources destined for dissemination and research. But sometimes these discussions are carried out through ignorance and misunderstanding. What is ignored in them is that the schools in dispute are so different in their principles that the dialogue between them is impossible. They have notions of truth, criteria and methods of evaluation so different that understanding and agreement becomes impossible. From our perspective, however, in spite of their differences, each of them is as much an integral part of philosophy as the other, and all of them are at least in the light of the intellect on the same level as the other.

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