What is philosophy? There are so many definitions of philosophy. It is not altogether unlikely that the “What is…?” question is not the best way to approach a definition of philosophy. There are many other important questions for defining and describing philosophy. Who are philosophers? What do philosophers do? How does one become a philosopher? How, where, and when does philosophy happen? If you want to keep the question of being (ti esti, “What is”), maybe you could at least pluralize or verbalize philosophy, so that “What is philosophy?” becomes “What are philosophies?” or “What is philosophizing?” (“What are philosophizings?”). In any case, all of these questions hover around the same point. Whatever philosophy is/does, it seems particularly involved in defining itself, maintaining itself, like it has to keep turning on the engine in order to keep driving, continually initiating itself, bringing itself back to itself. In short, philosophizing maintains a constant connection to its own beginning. Philosophy is perpetually preparatory, programmatically provisional. Continue reading
Kant, like many philosophers, is notoriously difficult to read. Some people blame his proclivity for pedantic exuberance. That’s not totally inaccurate, but for me, the specific cause of the difficulty in my reading of Kant is that he is so wrong, more specifically, so incapable and comprised. It reminds me that, in British English, Kant and “Can’t” are homophones. Continue reading
Geography and the Earth sciences, if they are to truly account for Earth, must study intimacy. I would argue that intimacy has something to do with roundness….curves.
What is needed is geography as an intimate study. Just as there is an affection between animals and humans, so there is an affection that passes between the region and human appreciation. Nothing escapes the role of intimacy. There is such a thing as considering the curvature of space as an intimacy of the universe with every being in the universe. So with the bioregion, there is an intimacy that brings to fulfillment both the region and its human presence. The region responds to the attention it receives from the various members of the community.
~Thomas Berry, The Great Work.
Because the world is round it turns me on.
~The Beatles, “Because.”
Every being seems in itself round. [Jedes Dasein scheint in sich rund.]
~Karl Jaspers, Von der Wahrheit.
Not just Hannah Arendt’s teacher, Karl Jaspers is a great philosopher in his own right. His work has been influential for many developments in twentieth-century philosophy, theology, and psychiatry. Here are two quotations in which he provides basic (yet profound) definitions of truth and philosophy.
“Within time, truth is forever underway, always in motion and not final even in its most marvelous crystallizations.” Tragedy Is Not Enough (1952, p. 104)
“The Greek word for philosopher (philosophos) connotes a distinction from sophos. It signifies the lover of wisdom (knowledge) as distinguished from him who considers himself wise in the possession of knowledge. This meaning of the word still endures: the essence of philosophy is not the possession of truth but the search for truth, regardless of how many philosophy may belie it with their dogmatism, that is, with a body of didactic principles purporting to be definitive and complete. Philosophy means to be on the way. Its questions are more essential than its answers, and ever answer becomes a new question.” Way to Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy (2003, p. 12)