Philosophy Science

Philosophy “largely a trick of the historical light”? Then what of philosophy of science?

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In “A Survey and an Assertion: Twelve potted philosophers and a theory of human values” (The American Scholar, 2011) Carlin Romano asks, regarding philosophy,

How can it be that philosophy, the world’s oldest profession without climactic satisfactions, remains so ill-defined? No matter where you turn, from academic pronouncement to middlebrow mulling to literary speculation, the thumbnails of it differ. For the great Harvard epistemologist W. V. Quine, philosophy meant philosophy of science, which, he famously declared, was “philosophy enough.” When former Economist executive editor Anthony Gottlieb boldly tried to wrap his arms around the history of the field from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance in The Dream of Reason, he concluded that “there is no such thing as philosophy.” Provocation accomplished, he then clarified the judgment: “The history of philosophy is more the history of a sharply inquisitive cast of mind than the history of a sharply defined discipline. The traditional image of it as a sort of meditative science of pure thought, strangely cut off from other subjects, is largely a trick of the historical light.” For French novelist Michel Houellebecq, in his recently published dialogues with French public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy, philosophy is, as American philosopher Richard Rorty asserted, “a genre of literature.” Houellebecq reports that he has “given up classifying it alongside rational certainty and placed it next to interpretations and narratives.”

Such uncertainties make it hard to decide which volumes officially stamped “philosophy” deserve the broadest attention in mass media. (Arts & Letters Daily, June 20, 2011)

If so, many would question the place given to philosophy of science in interpreting issues in the controversy over design of the universe and life forms.

One Reply to “Philosophy “largely a trick of the historical light”? Then what of philosophy of science?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    The problem is that the definition of philosophy is also — you guessed it — a phil question; which automatically means it is a hard question without easy one size fits all answers.

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