Saturday, September 29, 2007

Philosophers can be "prophets"

Frederick C. Copleston (1907-1994) on Philosophical Revisionism
A philosopher can of course try to alter our way of seeing the world by developing what P. F. Strawson has described as a revisionary metaphysics. Such an attempt obviously presupposes the judgment that our way of seeing the world ought to be altered or that another way of seeing it would be truer or more valuable. (But all philosophical inquiry, of any kind, presupposes a judgment of value.) And "the world" can be understood as including human life and history and the social-political sphere. If people complain that philosophers offer no "visions," this may be empirically true in a great many instances; but it is obviously not necessarily true, even if we are none too enthusiastic about the effects of apocalyptic thinkers such as Nietzsche and Marx. Philosophers can be "prophets." They can be, because they have been. It is indeed understandable if a good many philosophers turn with relief to a rather dry conception of philosophy and studiously avoid what they regard as wild and uncontrolled speculation, disguised poetic visions, religious edification, social-political propaganda, and what not. I sometimes feel that way myself.
(Frederick C. Copleston, "Philosophy as I See It," chap. 9 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 153-61, at 161) Posted by Keith Burgess-Jackson at 5:59 PM 28 September 2007 Philosophy @ UTA

1 comment:

  1. We have had dozens of Prophetic "philosophers", even the sublime revelatory "philosophy" of Sri Aurobindo.

    And yet none of it has made any real difference. Look at what is going on in the world. An ever-growing collective pychosis. The fight to the death wars of mind being dramatised all over the planet.

    Much of it being talked up and justified in the name of some long dead "prophetic" philosopher.