In the first place a philosophical proposition must be general. It must not deal specially with things on the surface of the earth, or within the solar system, or with any other portion of space and time. . . . This brings us to a second characteristic of philosophical propositions, namely that they must be a priori. A philosophical proposition must be such as can neither be proved nor disproved by empirical evidence. . . . Philosophy, if what has been said is correct, becomes indistinguishable from logic as that word has now come to be used.
[P]hilosophical theories are structured by conceptual metaphors that constrain which inferences can be drawn within that philosophical theory. The (typically unconscious) conceptual metaphors that are constitutive of a philosophical theory have the causal effect of constraining how you can reason within that philosophical framework.
Philosophical argument, trying to get someone to believe something whether he wants to believe it or not, is not, I have held, a nice way to behave towards someone; also it does not fit the original motivation for studying or entering philosophy. That motivation is puzzlement, curiousity, a desire to understand, not a desire to produce uniformity of belief. Most people do not want to become thought-police. The philosophical goal of explanation rather than proof not only is morally better, it is more in accord with one's philosophical motivation.
Logical investigations can obviously be a useful tool for philosophy. They must, however, be informed by a sensitivity to the philosophical significance of the formalism and by a generous admixture of common sense, as well as a thorough understanding both of the basic concepts and of the technical details of the formal material used. It should not be supposed that the formalism can grind out philosophical results in a manner beyond the capacity of ordinary philosophical reasoning. There is no mathematical substitute for philosophy.
The terminology of philosophical art is coercive: arguments are powerful and best when they are knockdown, arguments force you to a conclusion, if you believe the premisses you have to or must believe the conclusion, some arguments do not carry much punch, and so forth. A philosophical argument is an attempt to get someone to believe something, whether he wants to beleive it or not. A successful philosophical argument, a strong argument, forces someone to a belief.
Paul Davies takes us on a logically and rhetorically compelling modern search for human agency. This outstanding analysis, well informed by naturalistic views of our evolved affective nature, is the kind of philosophical work that is essential for a field to move forward when ever-increasing findings from modern science are inconsistent with traditional philosophical arguments. This book is for all who wish to immerse themselves in the modern search for free will. It is steeped in the rich liqueur of current scientific and philosophical perspectives and delusions.
Camus said there is only really one serious philosophical question, which is whether or not to commit suicide. I think there are four or five serious philosophical questions: The first one is: Who started it? The second is: Are we going to make it? The third is: Where are we going to put it? The fourth is: Who's going to clean up? And the fifth: Is it serious? Out Of Your Mind (2004), Audio lecture 1: The Nature of Consciousness: A Game That's Worth The Candle.
Alan W. Watts
In asking philosophical questions, we use a reason shaped by the body, a cognitive unconscious to which we have no direct access, and metaphorical thought of which we are largely unaware. The fact that abstract thought is mostly metaphorical means that answers to philosophical questions have always been, and always will be, mostly metaphorical. In itself, that is neither good nor bad. It is simply a fact about the capacities of the human mind. But it has major consequences for every aspect of philosophy. Metaphorical thought is the principal tool that makes philosophical insight possible and that constrains the forms that philosophy can take.
Quite often we are led to aporia, an impasse, unable to proceed a step further. Socrates is almost always there, but even he is only a supporting character. The starring role is given to the philosophical question. It is the philosophical question that is supposed to take center stage, cracking us open to an entirely new variety of experience.
If you read philosophical texts of the tradition, you'll notice they almost never said 'I,' and didn't speak in the first person. From Aristotle to Heidegger, they try to consider their own lives as something marginal or accidental. What was essential was their teaching and their thinking. Biography is something empirical and outside, and is considered an accident that isn't necessarily or essentially linked to the philosophical activity or system.
The conduct of a man, who studies philosophy in this careless manner, is more truly sceptical than that of any one, who feeling inhimself an inclination to it, is yet so over-whelm'd with doubts and scruples, as totally to reject it. A true sceptic will be diffident of his philosophical doubts, as well as of his philosophical conviction; and will never refuse any innocent satisfaction, which offers itself, upon account of either of them.
Most artists, or at least most of the ones I know, deny having a philosophical outlook that they try to translate into their works. Some had thought of the work of Cezanne and others as being a 'painted epistemology.' But Cezanne himself denied this and Daniel-Henri Kahnwiler, the art critic and art dealer, insisted that none of the many painters he had known had a philosophical culture.
If there is such a thing as philosophical progress, then why - unlike scientific progress - is it so invisible? Philosophical progress is invisible because it is incorporated into our points of view. What was torturously secured by complex argument comes widely shared intuition, so obvious that we forget its provenance.
In philosophy, metaphorical pluralism is the norm. Our most important abstract philosophical concepts, including time, causation, morality, and the mind, are all conceptualized by multiple metaphors, sometimes as many as two dozen. What each philosophical theory typically does is to choose one of those metaphors as "right, " as the true literal meaning of the concept. One reason there is so much argumentation across philosophical theories is that different philosophers have chosen different metaphors as the "right" one, ignoring or taking as misleading all other commonplace metaphorical structurings of the concept. Philosophers have done this because they assume that a concept must have one and only one logic. But the cognitive reality is that our concepts have multiple metaphorical structurings.
Philosophy is a necessary activity because we, all of us, take a great number of things for granted, and many of these assumptions are of a philosophical character; we act on them in private life, in politics, in our work, and in every other sphere of our lives -- but while some of these assumptions are no doubt true, it is likely, that more are false and some are harmful. So the critical examination of our presuppositions -- which is a philosophical activity -- is morally as well as intellectually important.
Teaching Plato in Palestine shows how philosophical thinking can illuminate important topics-in particular, the problem of finding ways to engage people with opposed ideologies in fruitful debate. The lively narratives, based on the author's experiences of working with various groups interested in using philosophical tools to clarify their thought and action, will engage a wide range of readers.
Poetry is a bad medium for philosophy. Everything in the philosophical poem has to satisfy irreconcilable requirements: for instance, the last demand that we should make of philosophy (that it be interesting) is the first we make of a poem; the philosophical poet has an elevated and methodical, but forlorn and absurd air as he works away at his flying tank, his sewing-machine that also plays the piano.
in these new days and in these new pages a philosophical tradition of the spontaneity of speculation kind has been rekindled on the sacred isle of e‰ire, regardless of its creative custodian never having been taught how to freely speculate, how to profoundly question, and how to playfully define. Spontaneity of speculation being synonymous with the philosophical-poetic, the philosophical-poetic with the rural philosopher-poet, and by roundelay the rural philosopher-poet thee with the spontaneity of speculation be. And by the way of the rural what may we say? A philosopher-poet of illimitable space we say. Iohannes Scottus e‰riugena the metaphor of old salutes you; salutes your lyrical ear and your skilful strumming of the rippling harp. (Source: Hearing in the Write, Canto 19, Ivy-muffled)
Deng Xiaoping thought of himself as a great revolutionary and a great reformer. He had dismantled the Chinese communist management of the economy. In my next-to-last conversation with him, which was about six months before Tiananmen Square, he said to me that his aim would be the next phase to reduce the Communist Party to philosophical issues. And I said, "What's a philosophical issue?" And he said, "Well, like if we make an alliance with Russia." Given his view of Russia, that was not the likeliest thing that would ever happen.
Henry A. Kissinger
Adults discourage children from asking philosophical questions, first by being patronizing to them and then by directing their inquiring minds towards more "useful" questions. Most adults aren't themselves interested in philosophical questions. They may be threatened by some of them. Moreover, it doesn't occur to most adults that there are questions that a child can ask that they can't provide a definitive answer to and that aren't answered in a standard dictionary or encyclopedia either.
Gareth B. Matthews
Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.
But promoting philosophical skepticism is not quite the mission of this book. If awareness of the Black Swan problem can lead us into withdrawal and extreme skepticism, I take here the exact opposite direction. I am interested in deeds and true empiricism. So, this book was not written by a Sufi mystic, or even by a skeptic in the ancient or medieval sense, or even (we will see) in a philosophical sense, but by a practitioner whose principal aim is not to be a sucker in things that matter, period.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
On scientific grounds this big bang assumption is much less the palatable of the two. For it is an irrational process that cannot be described in scientific terms. . . . On philosophical grounds too I cannot see any good reason for preferring the big bang idea. Indeed it seems to me in the philosophical sense to be a distinctly unsatisfactory notion, since it puts the basic assumption out of sight where it can never be challenged by a direct appeal to observation.
I believe in political solutions to political problems. But man's primary problems aren't political; they're philosophical. Until humans can solve their philosophical problems, they're condemned to solve their political problems over and over and over again. It's a cruel, repetitious bore.
Being a philosophical naturalist does not mean that one thinks that science can provide all of the answers. That is scientism and that is wrong. I don't think a billion buckets of science could speak to the problems raised by the Tea Party. Being a philosophical naturalist does not mean that one thinks that the only truths are those of science. I think the claim just made in the last sentence is true but I don't think it is a claim of science. It means that you use science where you can and you respect and try to emulate its standards.
Like all magical mysteries, the secrets of the Great Work have a triple meaning: they are religious, philosophical and natural. Philosophical gold in religion is the Absolute and Supreme Reason; in philosophy, it is truth; in visible nature, it is the sun: in the subterranean and mineral world, it is the purest and most perfect gold. Hence the search after the Great Work is called the Search for the Absolute, and this work itself is termed the operation of the sun.
Each of the parts of philosophy is a philosophical whole, a circle rounded and complete in itself. In each of these parts, however, the philosophical Idea is found in a particular specificality or medium. The single circle, because it is a real totality, bursts through the limits imposed by its special medium, and gives rise to a wider circle. The whole of philosophy in this way resembles a circle of circles. The Idea appears in each single circle, but, at the same time, the whole Idea is constituted by the system of these peculiar phases, and each is a necessary member of the organisation.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Nevertheless, a distinction must be made between skepticism as a philosophical thesis and skepticism as an attitude in life. As a philosophical thesis, it is a contradictory one, since it affirms the impossibility of knowing truth, although this affirmation itself claims to be true. Thus, skepticism as a thesis refutes itself in the very act of being formulated. The other aspect is different: this is the abstention from all judgments, skepticism in life, which neither affirms nor denies. This skepticism appears in history time and again, although here, too, it is doubtful whether human life can remain floating in this abstention without taking root in convictions.
Cesar is not a philosophical man. His life has been one long flight from reflection. At least he is clever enough not to expose the poverty of his general ideas; he never permits the conversation to move toward philosophical principles. Men of his type so dread all deliberation that they glory in the practice of the instantaneous decision. They think they are saving themselves from irresolution; in reality they are sparing themselves the contemplation of all the consequences of their acts. Moreover, in this way they can rejoice in the illusion of never having made a mistake; for act follows so swiftly on act that it is impossible to reconstruct the past and say that an alternative decision would have been better. They can pretend that every act was forced on them under emergency and that every decision was mothered by necessity
Somebody insults you and you feel anger. Don't miss this opportunity; try to understand why, why this anger. And don't make it a philosophical thing. Don't go to the library to consult about anger. Anger is happening to you -- it is an experience, a live experience. Focus your whole attention on it and try to understand why it is happening to you. It is not a philosophical problem. No Freud is to be consulted about it. There is no need! It is just foolish to consult somebody else while anger is happening to you. You can touch it. You can taste it. You will be burned by it.
Majority thinks that philosophy is useless not because of being completely uninterested in philosophical questions. In contrast, they would like to know at least from where they came, why they live and what will happen afterdeath. Majority underestimate philosophy simply because they feel that their brain capacity does not allow them to think over philosophical questions. Even if the brain which is very effective in one science can be ineffective in philosophy, because philosophy requires not only systematic knowledge in several fields of science, but it also requires going further. Any science studies what exist in reality, but philosophy also what can exist and what cannot exist.
It was said by Epicurus, and he was probably right, that all philosophy takes its origin from philosophical wonder. The man who has never at any time felt consciously struck by the extreme strangeness and oddity of the situation in which we are involved, we know not how, is a man with no affinity for philosophy - and has, by the way, little cause to worry. The unphilosophical and philosophical attitudes can be very sharply distinguished (with scarcely any intermediate forms) by the fact that the first accepts everything that happens as regards its general form, and finds occasion for surprise only in that special content by which something that happens here today differs from what happened there yesterday; whereas for the second, it is precisely the common features of all experience, such as characterise everything we encounter, which are the primary and most profound occasion for astonishment; indeed, one might almost say that it is the fact that anything is experienced and encounter at all.
If we wanted to construct a basic philosophical attitude from these scientific utterances of Pauli's, at first we would be inclined to infer from them an extreme rationalism and a fundamentally skeptical point of view. In reality however, behind this outward display of criticism and skepticism lay concealed a deep philosophical interest even in those dark areas of reality of the human mind which elude the grasp of reason. And while the power of fascination emanating from Pauli's analyses of physical problems was admittedly due in some measure to the detailed and penetrating clarity of his formulations, the rest was derived from a constant contact with the field of creative processes, for which no rational formulation as yet exists.
A philosophical thought is not supposed to be impervious to all criticism; this is the error Whitehead describes of turning philosophy into geometry, and it is useful primarily as a way of gaining short-term triumphs in personal arguments that no one else cares (or even knows) about anyway. A good philosophical thought will always be subject to criticisms (as Heidegger's or Whitehead's best insights all are) but they are of such elegance and depth that they change the terms of debate, and function as a sort of 'obligatory passage point' (Latour's term) in the discussions that follow. Or in other words, the reason Being and Time is still such a classic, with hundreds of thousands or millions of readers almost a century later, is not because Heidegger made 'fewer mistakes' than others of his generation. Mistakes need to be cleaned up, but that is not the primary engine of personal or collective intellectual progress.