What Is Philosophy?

What Is Philosophy?

C. P. Ragland
Sarah Heidt
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    What Is Philosophy?
    Book Description:

    In this stimulating book, six leading philosophers-Karl-Otto Apel, Robert Brandom, Karsten Harries, Martha Nussbaum, Barry Stroud, and Allen Wood-consider the nature of philosophy. Although each of them has a unique perspective, they all seem to agree that philosophy seeks to uncover hidden assumptions and concepts in order to expose them to critical scrutiny. It is thus entirely fitting that philosophers should examine their own assumptions about the nature of their discipline.As they delve into the nature of philosophy, the authors address many fascinating subjects: what makes philosophy different from natural science, religion, and other branches of the humanities; whether philosophy can contribute to political transformation, and if so, how; whether there can ever be an "end of philosophy"; and more. The editors' introduction ties together the contributors' diverse perspectives by noting common themes, similarities, and differences.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14793-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction The Act of Philosophizing
    (pp. 1-24)
    C. P. Ragland and Sarah Heidt

    Socrates annoyed the professional educators of his day—the sophists—with his persistent questions about their enterprise. "Just what exactly is it that you do?" he wanted to know. A conference held at Yale in April 1998 asked seven prominent philosophers to turn this Socratic question back on themselves. Before an audience consisting mostly of philosophy professors and graduate students, they asked "What is philosophy? What exactly are we philosophy professors doing, and whatshouldwe do?" The present volume is a collection of papers presented at the conference.¹ Although written for an audience of scholars, the articles are accessible...

  5. 1 What Is Philosophy?
    (pp. 25-46)
    Barry Stroud

    Faced, as I now am, with the question "What is philosophy?," my first reaction is that the question is absurd. On a little reflection I find that it is not so much the question that is absurd as the attempt to answer it. Then, getting more personal, I realize that what is even more absurd is formeto try to answer it. But now, having reached this more personal perspective, I can shift the question a little, so it becomes not "What is philosophy?" but only "How do I see philosophy?" That is still daunting—howdoI see...

  6. 2 Philosophy in Search of Itself
    (pp. 47-73)
    Karsten Harries

    What is philosophy? The question suggests a certain uneasiness on the part of philosophers. Chemists don’t arrange symposia with the title “What is chemistry?” Astronomers don’t arrange symposia with the title “What is astronomy?” Artists, on the other hand, today are even more preoccupied than philosophers with just what it is they are doing. Does the very title of our symposium then suggest that in important ways philosophy today is closer to art than to astronomy? Once, to be sure, things were different. In their origin astronomy and philosophy are intertwined: Thales, the first philosopher, was also an astronomer. Why...

  7. 3 Reason, Expression, and the Philosophic Enterprise
    (pp. 74-95)
    Robert Brandom

    We might begin by acknowledging a distinction between things that havenaturesand things that havehistories. Physical things such as electrons and aromatic compounds would be paradigmatic of the first class, while cultural formations such as English Romantic poetry and Ponzi schemes would be paradigmatic of the second. Applied to the case at hand, this distinction would surely place philosophy on the side of things that have histories. But now we might ask: Does philosophy differ in this respect from physics, chemistry, or biology? Physical, chemical, and biologicalthingshave natures rather than histories, but what about the disciplines...

  8. 4 Philosophy Enlightenment Apology, Enlightenment Critique
    (pp. 96-120)
    Allen Wood

    What is philosophy? If you ask a group of philosophy professors this question, there are several things you might hope to be told by way of an answer. You might want to hear how they think the subject of philosophy fits into an academic curriculum. You might want to watch them try to justify the place of philosophy, or of departments of philosophy, within a university. Or you might like to see different philosophers, representing different standpoints or specialties within the field, attempting to give an account of the field as a whole. You probably want to listen to them...

  9. 5 Public Philosophy and International Feminism
    (pp. 121-152)
    Martha C. Nussbaum

    Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, is the textile-mill city where Mahatma Gandhi organized labor in accordance with his principles of nonviolent resistance. Tourists visit it for its textile museum and its Gandhi ashram. But today it attracts attention, too, as the home of another resistance movement: the Self-Employed Women’s Association (sewa), with more than 50,000 members, which for over twenty years has been helping female workers in the informal sector to improve their living conditions through credit, education, and a labor union. On one side of the polluted river that bisects the city is the shabby old building where sewa was first...

  10. 6 What Is Philosophy? The Philosophical Point of View After the End of Dogmatic Metaphysics
    (pp. 153-182)
    Karl-Otto Apel

    What is Philosophy? What a question! I must confess that I was shocked and almost paralyzed at the thought of tackling this question in a book such as this. I would have no problem answering the question “What is philosophy?” for an audience of lay people.¹ I would start out with some characteristic definitions of the Greek classics that paraphrase and interpret the wordphilosophia. I would perhaps link this up with Kant’s famous four questions: “What can I know?,” “What should I do?,” “What may I hope?,” and “What is the human being?”² I would also make use of...

  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 183-184)
  12. Index
    (pp. 185-196)