Value Of Philosophy Essay, Research Paper
What is the value of Philosophy?
The word ?philosophy? is derived from two ancient Greek words, ?philos? meaning ?love of? and ?sophia? meaning ?wisdom?. Philosophers are lovers of wisdom. They have had the time and resources to sit back and wonder about what things really are like when all the pieces are fitted into one final accounting.
The history of philosophy is generally divided into four stages or periods.
Ancient philosophy covers Greek and Roman philosophy.
Medieval philosophy deals with the great attempts by Christian, Jewish, and Arab thinkers to synthesize their religious faiths with Greek and Roman philosophy.
Modern philosophy includes the various philosophical attempts in the 17th and 18th centuries to react to the scientific revolution which took place during the 17th century. It culminates in the philosophical system created the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant.
Recent philosophy covers the 19th and 20th century philosophical movements which have developed in reaction to Kant?s philosophy.
?Practical? people often dismiss philosophy because they see it as vague and uncertain. One of the those people was Bertrand Russell (1872-1910) who made a major contribution to the development of logical positivism, a strong philosophical movement of the 1930s and 1940s.
Russell, British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel Laureate, whose emphasis on logical analysis influenced the course of 20th-cneture philosophy. He , the grandson of Lord John Russell, a prime minister under Queen Victoria, was born in Wales. He studied mathematics and philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1890 to 1894.
He was a fellow at trinity from 1895 to 1901, and a lecturer in philosophy there from 1901 to 1916. Russell was dismissed from his position because of his pocifist activities and later was sentenced to six months in prison because of an allegedly libelous article in which he expressed his opposition to World War I and his desire for peace.
Russell was a leader in the revival of the philosophy of empiricism in the large field of epistemology. He wrote Our Knowledge of the External World (1914), The Analysis of Matter (1927) and Human Knowledge, Its Scope and Limits (1948). He also wrote Principles of mathematics (1903), Principia Mathematica (with A.N. Whitehead; three volumes, 1910 ? 1913), and Introduction to mathematical Philosophy (1919).
Russell agrees that philosophy deals with issues with uncertain answers. Yet in this uncertainty, he sees philosophy?s chief value ? that in contemplating the great questions one is freed from narrow personal interest alone.
Let?s review the problems of philosophy, and then make conclusion, what is the value of philosophy.
In view of the fact that many men, under the influence of science or of practical affairs, are inclined to doubt whether philosophy is anything better than innocent but useless trifling, hair-splitting distinctions and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge s impossible.
This view of philosophy appears to result, partly from a wrong conception of the ends of life, partly from a conception of the kind of goods which philosophy strives to achieve.
Philosophy, like all other studies, aims primarily at knowledge. The knowledge it aims at is the kind of knowledge which gives unity and system to the body of the science, and the kind which results from a critical examination of the grounds of our convictions, prejudices, and beliefs. But it cannot be maintained that philosophy has had any great measure of success in its attempts to provide definite answer to its questions.
Uncertainty of philosophy is more apparent than real: those questions which are already capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences, while those only to which, at present, no definite answer can be given, remain to form the residue which is called philosophy.
There are many questions ? and among them those that are of the profoundest interest to our spiritual life ? which, so far as we can see, must remain insoluble to the human intellect unless its powers become of quite a different order from what they are now.
The value of philosophy is to be sought largely in its very uncertainty.
Philosophy is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Philosophy has a value ? perhaps its chief value ? through the greatness of the objects which it contemplates, and the freedom from narrow and personal aims resulting from this contemplation.
The mind which has become accustomed to the freedom and impartiality of philosophic contemplation will preserve something of the same emotion. Philosophy is the eternal search for truth, a search which inevitably fails and yet is never defeated; which continually eludes us, but which always guides us (William James).
Philosophy helps people to aim at developing intellectual skills, to aim at comprehending what they are reading to train themselves to listen and to hear what philosophers have to say, to train themselves to critically evaluate what they are reading, to try to say something original on one of the frontier issues in philosophy, and to try their own hand at constructing a comprehensive philosophy.
Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves;
Because these questions enlarge our conception of what possible enrich our intellectual imagination, and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.
James A. Gould, Classic Philosophical Questions
Henry L. Ruf , Investigating Philosophy
Eugene Kelly / Luis E. Navia, The Fundamental Questions