Philosophy

 Rodin The Thinker
 

What is Philosophy?

“One can describe philosophy as the attempt to make clear, and if possible to answer, a range of fundamental and puzzling questions which arise when, in a general and inclusive way, we try to understand ourselves and the universe we inhabit.  Among many other things these questions concern existence and reality, knowledge and belief, reason and reasoning, truth, meaning, and value both ethical and aesthetic.  The questions themselves are of the form: What is reality?  What kinds of things ultimately exist?  What is knowledge, and how do we come by it?  How can we be sure that our claims to knowledge are not in some systematic way mistaken?  What are the canons of correct reasoning?  What is morally the right way to live and act, and why?”
“Philosophical problems are not problems than can be solved by empirical means –by looking through a telescope or microscope or by conducting experiments in a laboratory.  They are conceptual and logical problems, requiring conceptual and logical investigation.  Over the millennia a great investment of genius has been brought to the task of clarifying and answering the questions of philosophy.  Some philosophers have attempted to construct explanatory theories, occasionally very elaborate and ambitious in scope; others have tried to clarify and resolve particular questions by painstaking analysis and criticism.  Almost all those who have contributed to philosophy throughout its history have agreed that the matters mentioned above – existence, knowledge, truth, value – are deeply important; and it is upon this consensus that the philosophical debate, which has gone on at least since classical antiquity, has been based.” 
A. C. Grayling, Wittgenstein, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) pp. 17-18
 

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