What has philosophy actually found out?


I am not well educated in philosophy. But I have darted in and out of discussion boards, read the odd introductory text, read a bit of Whitgenstein (is that how you spell it) and some other things, and thought a bit about things.

But can anyone tell me this - what has western philosophy actually found out for sure??? Don’t give me names or notions! I want truths!!!

We were just talking about this in another recent thread ("Philosophy’s finest definition).

if take a look at that thread, you’ll see that many of the definitions given by various philosophers are essentially this:

“Philosophy’s primary purpose is not to discover truths, but rather, to clarify the things that we already know to be true.”

Even Wittgenstein, himself, concluded this to be so. :wink:

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, there are several definitions of philosophy, some of which I’ll go right ahead and share with you.
Philosophy is either:
-Love and Pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-
-A system of thought based on or involving inquiry.
-A system of values by which one lives.

Philosophy, by no means, attempts to discover truths, rather, just to better understand them.

We know for an absolute fact that Descrates was not correct. In fact, through study of philosophy I know a lot of things aren’t correct- I suppose thats the real power of it. Think of it like craveing a sculpture, you don’t measure progress not by what you have before you, but what you have left on the ground. And by looking through a breif history of philosophy you will see their a lot of bodies on the ground. (Mixed metaphores are fun.)

Can your ideas stand the test of critical thinking? Give 'em a try.

[BTW, I think we need a stick about why the dictionary is at worst evil and at best useless in philosophical debate. Appeal to authority anyone?]

philosophy has done quite a bit. take a look at logic. we know that there are different levels of infinity…for instance there are more reals than there are naturals. we know that arithmetic is incomplete as well. also, the philosophy of language coupled with logic has assisted in AI research. for instance, segmented discourse representation theory (there’s more to speech than what is said; ie implications) symbolizes the complexities of human conversation and will possibly assist programmers to do so as well. this theory was developed by philosopher nick asher. anyway, philosophy has done quite a bit. consider all the natural sciences as well.

LostGuy Wrote:


I think yours is a pragmatic critique of philosophy. The pragmatist is not concerned with truth or with reality or with morality, but rather is only concerned with what works, what makes things easier for us, what helps us to get along with one another. To the pragmatist it doesn’t matter much why it works, but only that it does work. Also, you are like Plato in that you want absolutes. To the pragmatist, the best philosophy is whatever works the best not what helps us to understand what exists or to know the truth but only what is most effective. So your question is essentially THE QUESTION to a pragmatist. How has philosophy helped us?

“the more it seems I think I know, the more I find I don’t,
every answer opens up so many questions…” - J. Biafra


Caveman, how much American Philosophy have you actually read?

Moonface wrote:

well I guess one thing about (the western) philosophy, is that doubting things keeps your mind sharp. And the one of the main philosophicall questions is: what is truth, so …
Philosophy has got all to do with thinking & love of wisdom , I guess…