THE ONLY THING WE REQUIRE TO BE GOOD PHILOSOPHERS IS THE FACULTY OF WONDER...It seems as if in the process of growing up we lose the ability to wonder about the world. And in doing so, we lose something central--something philosophers try to restore...A philosopher never gets quite used to the world. To him or her, the world continues to seem a bit unreasonable--bewildering, even enigmatic. Philosophers and small children thus have an important faculty in common.
- Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World
O.S.I.R.I.S.'s mission is to foster and promote global security, civil society, and individual sovereignty through information-sharing and communal activism. This series, largely based on W. Russ Payne's Introduction to Philosophy, is aligned with that mission. As we seek to navigate the world and its ever changing climate, may we refer to things more transcendent than the day-to-day changing of the news cycle or whatever political mantra happens to be trendy. May we think more than the political elites think we think....
Order and liberty rest on a civil society and a sound mind.
What is Philosophy?
In short, it is the attempt to better one’s life and society through thought and careful reflection. In addition to life-improvement, philosophy also aims at an analysis and explanation of nature without the direct invocation of science. In fact, the less science, the happier it gets. Philosophy almost needs a playground of imagination and creativity in order to be “in its element.”
Stemming from Greek, philo (meaning “love”) and sophia (meaning “wisdom”) combine to make philosophy’s definition: “the love of wisdom.” Although possessing a narrower, more riddle-solving meaning today, wisdom in the time of the Egyptians, the Hebrews, and the Greeks was well-rounded. It dove into the depths of reality and sought to bring a higher order to all who would listen to it, involving all or as many disciplines as it could to find answers, make life less complicated, and achieve morality, long life, and good neighborliness.
The interplay of science and philosophy is like that of two siblings: science being the one that is a few years ahead of the other in grade school. Both grow up trying to understand everything, but it is the older one that pulls the other along as he develops a more concrete understanding of how people and the universe work. Philosophy does learn from his brother, as science gains more and more of a knowledge about the universe; however, philosophy thrives the best in the uncertain.
What is grey to science is colorful to philosophy. Where science is bashful if it has too few answers, philosophy is abundantly excited when posed with paradoxes and confusion.
As it would be expected, the older brother does ask the younger one questions only if he does not know what else to make of a puzzle that is in front of him. When there is nowhere else to go, it is philosophy to the rescue! In this sense, it acts like a remedy for writer's block, giving science new ideas to explore or better hints at solving nature's mysteries and riddles.
Philosophy speaks not only to the nature of things and people but also to ethics. In this way, philosophy helps ground science in its experimentation with people and the world lest it become too mechanical and, thus, Machiavellian in its own answer-seeking. Like the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, it becomes the restraining belt to science as a means to keep the peace when technocratic aspirations are on the horizon. Without this art of contemplative reflection, the input-output formulae of science would be deleterious to humanity and the parts of the universe which are within our realm to affect.
Religion’s connection to philosophy is no less estranged than that of science. Any exercise in thought as it relates to religion, the nature of man in the context of what is spiritual or some type of supernatural conscience are exercises in philosophy. These and other philosophical aspects of religion are undoubtedly able to change over the course time via reformations and communal reflection, exegesis, and prayer - exegesis being the pointed and focused study of sacred texts. The freedom to question things and open oneself to finding more truth is philosophy.
It's Essential Nature
Philosophy is an open door.
It has fun tossing things around in the mind, seeing wherever they may land.
But good philosophy doesn’t end in the mind - or in the abstract. Good philosophy lands! Good philosophy actually grips society and has enough relevance and is grounded in reality enough to stand a chance in the long run. Artificially sustained philosophies, that are technocratic in nature and are thus detached from reality and from real human beings, hold societies back. They are deleterious to humans, the environment, and to progress.
Real philosophy needs to be free. It needs to be freely shared and freely spoken and allowed to be criticized. It is through public criticism that good thoughts can be proven to be good and beneficial for man - or else they are not good thoughts. Thoughts - or a way of life - that are preserved only through fear or through force cannot be maintained naturally and are therefore bad thoughts. If thoughts are bad, then they can die naturally under public criticism, and are therefore not a threat to society at all.
The threads of free speech, free trade, and philosophical discourse are all intertwined; and one needs the sure and promised existence of the others - in addition to the governmental structures which are put in place and designed to preserve and “peace-keep” said threads of a civil society.