The word philosophy comes from the Greek *Philosophia* meaning “love of wisdom”. A fear I am getting is that, in these modern times, we are losing our love of philosophy.
A lot of what falls under the banner of philosophy are what we would consider the most important questions in life. We can’t simply toss them aside; we need to address them.
Yet, the idea that philosophy has deteriorated into being useless and irrelevant has become all-too-common. Is philosophy dead? Has science superseded it? Our engineering and technological development simply more practical, better ways of using our time?
“Philosophy is dead. Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.” ~ Stephen Hawkings
“Philosophy is the field that hasn’t progressed in two thousand years.” ~ Lawrence Krauss
“A philosophy major can really mess you up.” ~ Neil Degrasse Tyson
Prominent thinkers, well scientists specifically, seem to line up to denounce one of our most ancient and cherished disciplines. Do they have a point in this? Have we moved past it? Is it time to be doing bigger and better things?
And if not, then why do they feel this way? Is the way modern philosophy that is done in practice to blame? Have we hit a roadblock in our philosophical inquiry?
What is philosophy anyway? What is the difference between a philosophical question and a scientific one? Should they even be put forth as two competing paradigms or do they both have a role to play?
So let’s imagine they were right. Science has superseded philosophy. It is better. Fullstop. Now what?
Are we in a better position?
Aren’t we left with a whole slew of questions we can no longer touch?
What makes a good life? How do we use our precious time on earth? How should we design societies? Or even how should science be done?
One strategy is to simply dismiss them: What if these questions simply weren’t answering?
I can’t seem to take this too seriously, though.
If the virtue of science is precision, the virtue of philosophy is flexibility. As it exists entirely in the realm of thought, it can boldly go where no scientist can go. The all-too-important questions out of reach from conventional science can once more be put on the table.
And we need to discuss them; our lives are too short, too precious not to. There is too much at stake.
How should we make use of philosophy to do this?
I suspect there was a valid fear echoed by those scientists; the ambiguity and noise that we hear from philosophy departments all-too-often prove to nothing more than dressed up opinions.
Is there a difference between philosophy and pure fluff? How do we distinguish between the two? How do we prevent mere speculation in lieu of actually answering the important questions in life? What is the difference between good and bad philosophy? How can we tell the difference?
• A good explanation: https://sashinexists.com/letter/a-good-explanation
‣ I wrote a piece that talks about what makes a good explanation and touch on the difference between science and philosophy (testability)
• What is Truth? David Deutsch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eEffbjzNwE
‣ Touches on the concept of "bad philosophy"
• In Defence of Philosophy by Carneades (Playlist of short YouTube videos): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UyMU_w8WCc&list=PLz0n_SjOttTcSMzZYAJHizTI1sqWuEF8n
• Why we need philosophy by Mark Manson https://markmanson.net/why-we-all-need-philosophy
If you have any more, please leave them there in the comments!