[hist-analytic] Clarity Is Not Enough

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk
Fri Feb 20 14:04:00 EST 2009


Hi Steve and Roger,

 

I am catching up with emails and just came across your two. Here are just a
few comments.

 

First, I count philosophy as a part of knowledge; and knowledge needs no
justification beyond itself. But, second, I think that philosophy has many
applications.

 

Science, it may reasonably be said, is applied philosophy. The two emerged
together and have never been clearly distinguished; and nor should they be
so. Scientific theories often begin as metaphysical speculations; and
metaphysical theories are always in the background of science providing
heuristic stimulus and, for many people, motivation. The impact of
philosophical speculation on science has been enormous: just think of
determinism, materialism, anti-spiritualism/occultism, indeterminism,
positivism/operationalism, mechanism, Pythagorean geometrical mysticism
(particularly prominent in Kepler and Galileo), and so on and so forth.

 

In social and political affairs the impact of philosophical ideas has been
monumental, and usually, but not always, detrimental or disastrous: Plato,
Rousseau, Hegel/Marx, Adam Smith, Bentham/Mill, etc. Popper's 'open society'
ideas appear to have had a significant, and beneficial, impact in Eastern
Europe.

 

On a more mundane level, philosophy can also have an impact on the way
people live their lives. A metaphysical view can change the way one sees the
world and one's place in it; and this can inform or guide one's whole style
of life or, less substantially, prompt one to do uncharacteristic things
from time to time. The course of my life changed partly as a consequence of
reading Feyerabend's 'Against Method.' (In some ways it would have been
better for me if I had not read that book!)

 

Best wishes,

 

Danny

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