Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of the time.Stephen Hawking
Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.
Philosophy is dead – just like God. While I don’t particularly agree with Hawking, there’s definitely a shared sentiment here. To be fair, scientific progress precisely rests on the resolution of the philosophy of science. Once the foundations have been set, the field of study moves outside philosophy, independent enough to stand on its own. However, the same cannot be said for other subfields – Ethics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology among others.
Academic Philosophy hasn’t progressed any further, and even worse, there seems to be no active pursuit toward any true grounding. Scientism does have a valid point – for an observer, modern philosophy seems to be engaging in intellectual word salad.
What Do Philosophers believe?
In the survey What do Philosophers Believe1, Bourget and Chalmers examine the philosophical view of contemporary professional philosophers on major questions in the field. As mentioned by Philosophy Engineered, none of the views have a consensus above 90 percent. More than consensus, there is no standard for filtering out the right philosophy – partly owing to there being no epistemological basis and no consensus among contemporary positions. Therefore, even philosophers who espouse immature positions, say the faith in a Christian God, are respected, if not revered, in the discipline.
Call to Action
In Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus2, Wittgenstein sets out an ambitious goal: solving all of philosophy itself. Although he didn’t succeed, becoming the strongest critique of himself later, the intuition behind the seminal work persists – Language. Akin to Hegel studying Logic itself in Science of Logic, one must dig deeper – study the frame of expression of that very logic.
I suspect that developments in the philosophy of language will pave way for some epistemological grounding. Perhaps the intuition may turn out to be completely wrong, or perhaps not. In any case, if something calls out to you, it seeks attention – one must examine it.
- Bourget, D., Chalmers, D.J. What do philosophers believe?. Philos Stud 170, 465–500 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-013-0259-7
- Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1889-1951. (1933). Tractatus logico-philosophicus. [Reprinted, with a few corrections] New York :Harcourt, Brace,