What Is Philosophy?

Philosophy is the explanation. The questions held in common are the most common areas of philosophy; Why are we here? What for? When does it start? The best explanation, in alignment with the scientific method, not only connects abstract concepts with the concrete reality, it also suggests what happens next.
For millennia assorted gods understood by holy people or prophets or shamen were the best explanation. Now, the people with PhD’s (philosophical degrees of … domain) are expected to have the answers. As a divine explanation gave way to natural philosophy, so to did natural philosophy become physics & biology & chemistry, etcetera. As a parallel, philosophy of logic become involved with modern computing & coding.

Interpretation is the eternal cause of philosophy. No matter the depth of understanding when Descartes wrote his utterance”Cogito Ergo Sum”, the reader must at least know Latin. They may not know meta-physics, Descartes was interested in building his explanation from the deepest doubt up, so he found the deepest certainty, that of a self.
Examine a philosophy of, “Always butter the corners of the toast and the rest will look after itself.”. On the surface, this explanation is of no use to any non-toast related application. Application to untoasted bread is an extension, and not explicit in the philosophy. Further development to a distinct, non-food related, facet of life, perhaps study, is due to the individual. In relation to study, “Always butter the corners of the toast and the rest will look after itself.”, could be interpreted to mean focus on the tricks and tricky parts of the subject, and the rest will naturally follow. But is this re-application due to the philosophy, or the individual?

Good philosophy will make use of common knowledge. A philosophy in Latin is of use to Latin speakers, but of scant value to a Singaporean. A philosophy chock full of esoteric terms may be useless for the those outside the domain, but does require that definitions and boundaries be learnt explicitly instead of implicitly.
Allow me to demonstrate this dynamic. Force in common usage is a vague term, force in reference to cinema has an obvious bastion, and force in scientific usage has a stricter definition. The situation in biology contrasts this lump of language. In biology a fish is only the common name for a great diversity of living things, and a PhD graduate would not use the term, but instead the Latin name which carries the biological tree of life (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Specie). So, a philosophy may become mystic & magical, or material & mechanical depending on the state of affairs in need of explanation. Is it better that learning be a growth of the old understanding, or a wholly new understanding?

Tides, which were once the domain of Neptune, have become the territory of an offshoot of natural philosophy, tidal sciences. If you were to describe the tides, would you say the water is always knee deep, but sometimes more? Or would you say the water is between knee and hip depth but constantly varies? How should relationships and dynamics be described?

Philosophy is the best explanation and should carry what is relevant. The philosophy of the scientific method insists on repeatability and predictive results. Reinterpretation continues to keep alive theology, and the art industry. Terminology and dynamism are common between many areas of philosophy.

What’s the difference between an excuse and an explanation?


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