Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Principle and Practice of Philosophy

(This short work of questions relates to some earlier posts on problems: Philosophical Problems I and Philosophical Problems II)

   In principle answers to problems of arithmetic have a single answer, yet in practice there is the possibility of error, and so there may be a variety of answers parading as correct. However, this does not lead us to maintain that there is more than one answer to the summation of any two integers. While arithmetic has necessity in its results being singular, philosophy has this, as well as the necessity of its questions.
   (If you find yourself disturbed by the above claim I would be interested in hearing why. I will list two possible reasons rhapsodically: perhaps you are concerned that I am claiming that philosophy has a sort of preeminence in importance over other sciences, or maybe you think I am just wrong - philosophy is mostly silly, and much more a sign of decadence than necessity. I would enjoy to hear other reasons.)
   What does it mean to say that the questions of philosophy are necessary? It is not necessary that any two integers are added together, so why should it be necessary to ask any other question? It is hard to characterize what a philosophical question is like - but for now we have this one element that I am asserting: the questions themselves are necessary. Looking closer at this, we may ask that just because a question is necessary in principle, it may not actually be asked in practice. Sticking with the attitude of assertion, there is a further relationship between the results of philosophy and the questions both being necessary that may help us: the questions are the results of philosophy.
   Assertion continued: philosophy is not a science of knowing, but of asking. This helps us to formulate an ideal of philosophy: the ideal is something towards which the project of philosophy aims at which it also cannot attain, something that structures the inquiry that is philosophy. As a suggestion here, I will consider that what is sought in philosophy is the most questionable. (Is this the question of Being, or what this question is a symbol for?)
   In the first Critique, Doctrine of Method, Kant idealized the philosopher as the one who directly gives the rules to reason. This characterizes the philosopher as one who has a power of determination. To begin with this seems to directly contradict what I was above describing as the goal of philosophy, since asking and authorizing are very different activities, but maybe we should consider a moment the difference between philosophy and the philosopher. Philosophy is a sort of pursuit of the highest question, the philosopher is one who pursues in a particular way so that he can authorize reason. Does asking the highest question amount to a total exposure and authority over what can be thought by man?
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