Philosophical Thought of the Day: Sept. 16

September 16, 2006 at 10:16 am Leave a comment

Often when I tell people I am a philosophy major & after I have explained what philosophers do — what it means to be a philosopher — they often ask me why. ‘Why do you want to be a philosopher? Why do you want to philosophize?’ Of course often they are refering to what they think of as a bad financial and career decision.

But sometimes they are refering to the philosophizing itself — why should one philosophize about anything? Why ask about minds, existence or knowledge? Don’t we already know what those things are? Don’t I already know that p, and don’t I already know that I know it? So what is the point? It seems as if people are saying, for any (so called) philosophical puzzle, if everyone already knows that p, then it shouldn’t be taken seriously be philosophers. We already know that p. Therefore, p shouldn’t be discussed by philosophers.

Let us grant that people generally know that p — whatever p turns out to be. But that doesn’t mean that philosopher’s shouldn’t take about ‘knowing that p.’ After all, philosophers often talk just as much about what is known than what is unknown. Philosophers discuss the ordinary in a new way, and challenge conventional ways of thinking and knowing. Additionally there is something more to p, than knowing that p. It is knowing how S knows that p. How does S know that p?

Simply saying that S knows that p just restates the problem of how. By what means — what way — does S know that p. So even if we grant that everyone — or most everyone — knows that p, it leave unanswered the question of how S knows that p. In other words, there is still more for philosophers to discuss.

And as far as I can tell, philosophers will always have work to do. It’s more about the process than the conclusion!

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Entry filed under: general philosophy.

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