What is Philosophy about?

In his 1945 book “A History of Western Philosophy”, Bertrand Russell tells us that “All definite knowledge….belongs to science; all dogma…belongs to theology.”

Between these two, Bertrand writes, lies a “No Man’s Land”, which is the home of Philosophy — a temper of spirit that looks at questions Science cannot answer, yet is sceptical of the certainties trotted out by Theology.

What is Philosophy about? Bertrand answers: “To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notes on various topics that he ruminated on (published posthumously as “Philosophical Investigations” in 1953) has this entry numbered 309.

“What is your aim in philosophy?—To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.”

In her interpretation (“Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness”) of Epictetus, the Greek thinker who lived around 100 AD, Sharon Lebell explains that philosophy is “the love of wisdom. It is the art of living a good life.”

It is not, she points out, “a set of intellectual techniques or brain teasers to show how clever you are” — rather, it is a practice “intended for everyone, and….is authentically practiced only by those who wed it with action in the world toward a better life for all.”

Peace 😊

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