Phl111 Schwitzgebel

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analysis of schwitzgebel's article WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?

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  • PHL 111 Theme 1: Course introduction and overview
  • Phl111 Schwitzgebel

    1. 1. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel
    2. 2. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel Source: “The Splintered Mind” – Schwitzgebel See www.ufh.ac.za/philosophy/schwitzgebel_what_p.htm http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2008/10/what-is-philosophy.html <ul><li>Which questions are raised, which answers attempted? </li></ul><ul><li>Questioning the questions (and answers!) </li></ul><ul><li>What do we learn about philosophy from this? </li></ul>
    3. 3. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel
    4. 4. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel “ How is philosophy different from the other academic disciplines?” “ What makes it worth funding as an academic department?”
    5. 5. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel “ All the members turned up for the annual Invisible Man conference”
    6. 6. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel ONE ANSWER: “sociological explanation”: philosophy is whatever it is that people who call themselves &quot;philosophers&quot; do. Or we could say that it is whatever it is that fits best into an integrated tradition arising from the canonical works of canonical figures like Plato and Kant. COUNTER: too limited and mutually exclusive… For one needs to mention many other philosophers from many traditions and various historical eras. It would make philosophy too much into a dead discipline studying the great philosophical figures (about whom there are lots of controversy anyway) ANOTHER ANSWER: Method and content seems the better hope. But is there a distinctively philosophical method or a set of distinctly philosophical topics? COUNTER: Any other discipline also has methods of its own and covers contents in its own way in a field that is more or less unique to its application… HOWEVER: if philosophy maintained a differentiation for itself on this point, at the very least it would be just as deserving a place as any other academic discipline. COUNTER: Yet, can philosophers justifiably argue that philosophy is simply an “a priori and speculative” discipline, in contrast with the ‘hard’ (empirical) sciences? Or could one perhaps argue that the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sciences are not so much different…..? HOWEVER: a closer look at these features of method and theme would assist the argument if developed critically and systematically!!
    7. 7. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel ANOTHER ANSWER: Since philosophy is not a “pure (deductive) science” in itself, the distinction between philosophy and empirical science is not so sharp. Philosophers critically question and clarify the assumptions, methods, principles and concepts of the empirical sciences, and is therefore a close collaborator of the sciences. COUNTER: Is this limitation of philosophy to be a mere extension and help-meet to the sciences, and taking “empirical science” as the standard, not self-defeating? Should philosophy rather strife to develop and retain its independence, despite the “anonymous authority” often blindly awarded to science and technology? From an independent vantage point, the very concepts of science and technology can be challenged as such, as it should be challenged! COUNTER: again, philosophy appears to be assigned a too limiting role, this time being the hand-maiden of “world-views”. Philosophy should insist on the freedom to question, and radically so if needed, the assumptions of any world-view!   ANOTHER ANSWER: “To practice philosophy is to articulate argumentatively broad features of one's worldview, or -- derivatively -- to reflect on subsidiary points crucial to disputes about worldview, with an eye to how they feed into those disputes.”
    8. 8. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel These brief comments elicited some interesting responses, and opened the way for the other participants to add various references to other ways of approaching the topic of what philosophy is. Can we agree to leave these further responses open to you to investigate further on your own?
    9. 9. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel
    10. 10. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel Has he indeed answered his own questions? Was he systematic about it? Were the answers adequate? Were the questions OK? What could he have done to further his own argument? (Challenge his own questions, and its assumptions, perhaps?!) Did he succeed in getting some kind of discussion going? (NB: purpose) How might the discussion gone differently if he attended more closely to the question(s) he started out from? If he was more critical and self-critical, how could the topic have been developed differently? NB: Did he ask an essential question, or was it perhaps too trivial?
    11. 11. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel MARTIN HEIDEGGER (ca 1896-1955), What is Metaphysics? “ All essential philosophical questioning is necessarily untimely.”
    12. 12. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel <ul><li>What is meant by ‘essential’ question ing ? (are we looking for ghosts here?) </li></ul><ul><li>What do we learn about ‘answers’ from this? </li></ul><ul><li>What is meant by ‘untimely’? </li></ul><ul><li>Is ‘untimely’ ever (immediately) ‘useful’? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a question of questions? </li></ul><ul><li>What should an essential question look like? </li></ul>
    13. 13. 09/06/08 PHL 111/E Theme 2: Defining philosophy? Schwitzgebel NIHIL

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