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The Attack on Philosophical Exploration -- A Revamped Critique

Updated: May 11



Introduction


It seems that, in the age of fake news and hostility towards opinions and people we don't like, the attitude towards the concept of philosophical exploration has changed. People today are more oriented towards content that thinks for them than content that allows them to wonder about certain subjects. Many of us seek concrete, evident truth rather than abstract, possible, and interesting truths.


This is one of the reasons why philosophy is not as prioritized by the general public. Philosophy is mostly theoretical, and even then, concrete evidence is often demanded more than simply providing food for thought and something to wonder about. Furthermore, it even seems that contemplations that focus more on wondering than on available data are seen as unrealistic and irrational.


If we are to assume that philosophy is indeed decaying in our times, when science can answer many questions without the need to philosophize, then this decay could definitely be attributed to the opposition many people have towards the notion of philosophical exploration. This is because people favor things that can be founded empirically rather than rationally or abstractly.



Meta-Philosophical Commentary


"Philosophical exploration" is simply the entertainment of ideas that are usually less entertained, or completely disregarded. Arguably, one of the reasons philosophy may be seen as irrelevant is because people may fail to distinguish between the theoratical exploration of ideas, and practical philosophy. Fail to make the difference between the two, and you may devalue an entire collection of intellectual branches that can be used for research and the benefit of humanity.


And even then, when we explore new ideas, let us not forget that they can indeed be practical for our efforts. That's because new ideas allow us to spark our creativity and assist us in solving problems.


For that matter, a good philosophy article can be one that is not only well-written and researched, but one that can actually help its readers in life. When we entertain ideas that can prevent people from committing suicide, for example, we are basically saving life, by letting them explore philosophical ideas such as existentialism.

Philosophy is often seen as "dead" because of the perceived superiority of empiricism over rationalism in finding truth. However, I believe that this is a mistake. Without enough philosophical exploration, we are missing out on a lot of innovation that the non-humanities sciences have yet to discover.


Science largely focuses on what is known, not on what is not known. This can be limiting, as it prevents us from exploring new possibilities, should we explore less and focus more on the existant. Philosophy, on the other hand, allows us to explore possibilities with less need for evidence, as philosophy is largely based on logic-based, coherent arguements. This does not mean that we will always find the truth, but it does mean that we can try to go where no one has gone before.


To illustrate this point, I would like to draw an analogy between existent and theoratical. The "existent" is like Star Wars, while the realm of theory is like Star Trek. In Star Wars, the plot could have been set in any time period, because there is not a lot of focus on the reasoning behind the technology, different planets, and aliens. The writers just accept that these things exist, and they focus on telling a story about good versus evil.



In Star Trek, on the other hand, the reasoning is much more important. The characters spend a lot of time discussing the science behind their technology, and they often use their knowledge of science to solve problems. Star Trek is more about exploring the possibilities of the future, and it often asks philosophical questions about the nature of humanity.


In Star Trek, you get to see the exact opposite of Star Wars. It is mostly about literal exploring, even if these explorations are not always worth the effort. You get to meet certain concepts that may or may not be true in our universe as well – space monsters, multiverses, sapient species that live in a wild west-like style of civilization and a nazi-styled planet.


You get the idea. Instead of looking at either past or present concepts, you get to ponder your own; play with them like a child would play with foam while in the bathtub.


Insights on Information Research


A common criticism I used to receive about my writing was that there wasn't enough research in my articles. As if that alone is enough to make any content irrational. My reply to that feedback would be that I simply write about what I think (2023 note: I have suffered from fatigue, hence why research of information was very difficult. But I now live to redeem this through revamping my work).


A philosopher is first and foremost a thinker, and should my thoughts be philosophical, I don't see any wrong to write my contemplations and share them with the world, as the bigger priority. I don't try to give you the exact truth; I philosophize for a possible truth. To reach exact truths is far harder than some of you might think in philosophy, as anything can always be debateable.


I am not implying that evidence and external research are worthless. I am saying that they should not be the only, and/or main factor for judging a philosophical piece. I think philosophers – and everyone, at that – should not be ridiculed for using philosophical exploration as their preferred method of thinking.


It is okay to find out you were wrong; many philosophers were wrong in some of their beliefs, and it doesn't make them stupid, necessarily, or mentally ill. These are absurd claims of ad-hominem. It means that they explored things with their mind, which is the original way of philosophy, in a pre-internet world, where people like Socrates admitted that they know nothing, and still preserved a Ccertain degree of prestige among at least some of their audience.


Conclusion

With so much information available at our fingertips, we can all feel as if we are able to be extremely knowledgeable. However, even in our times, a good philosopher is not someone who will tell you what to think, like an informer, or a propaganda minister, but will give you ideas to think about, like an artist. This is why I think that philosophy, even though it is a truth-based field, is more of an art than a science in the end.


Its ultimate tool of truth-seeking is the mind, and a good philosopher is not to be measured like a physicist or a chemist, but like one who dares to explore and to question, regardless of reception.



Internal, Additional Resources





Thanks for reading!


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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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