Guide To Philosophy (Roger Scruton)

The following excerpts are from the eminent modern Philosopher, Roger Scruton's invigorating, compelling, and fascinating essay 'An intelligent Person's Guide To Philosophy'. Scruton's par excellence essay is A MUST READ for anyone interested in Philosophy or Philosophy related studies. On a personal note, this is one of the most enriching philosophical essays I've ever read. I highly recommend it to any 'aficionado' of Philosophy, or anyone wanting to learn and understand, in very simple terms, the often boring and heavy to digest themes of Philosophy.

'An intelligent Person's Guide To Philosophy'
Roger Scruton

Philosophy exists only because of the question 'Why?'; Why-questions arise in the context of rational discussions; rational discussion requires language; language is organized by the concept of truth; truth is a relation between thought and reality and reality is objective: neither created by our concept, nor necessarily well described by them. Such is the train of thought that we have followed..

Philosophy-The love of wisdom-can be approached in two ways: by doing it, or by studying how it has been done..Plato and Socrates were citizens of a small and intimate city state, with publicly acceptable standards of virtue and taste, in which the educated class derived its outlook from a single collection of incomparable poetry, but in which all other forms of knowledge were rare and precious. Unlike the great Athenians, we live in a crowded world of strangers, from which standard of taste have all but disappeared, in which the educated class retains no common culture, and in which knowledge has been parceled out into specialisms, each asserting its monopoly interest against the waves of immigrant ideas..

Plato tells us that this life leads to a vision higher world, and Spinoza shows our world in another height ,under the aspect of eternity'. They reproach us for sensuous ways, and gently remind us, in the words of Socrates, that 'the unexamined life is not a life for a human being'..

Wittgenstein wrote that 'the world is the totality of facts, not of thing'.
(Tractus Logico-Philosophicus, 1.1)..

The French writer, Michel Foucault has invented a new way of doing history, based on the assumption that the truth of a thought is conferred by the system of ruling ideas..Foucault tells us(in Les Mots et Les Choses(1966)) that man is a recent invention, and we are understandably startled..

Someone could accept Descartes' argument as showing that, in the last analysis, the world remains hidden from us, lying beyond the boundaries of thought, but nevertheless believe that the distinction between the true and the false, the real and the imaginary, the objective and the subjective, are genuine and useful..

Hegel called the philosophy that he inherited from Fichte 'objective idealism'. The world is 'posited' by the self, and is therefore entirely composed of 'spirit': hence the name 'idealism'..That drama, give or take a few details, remains unchanged in Schelling and Hegel, and remnants of it survive through Schopenhauer, Feuerbach and Marx, right down to Heidegger..

It's tempting to agree with Nietzsche, that the philosopher is not interested in truth but only in my truth, and that the thing which masquerades as truth for him, is no more than the residue of his own emotions..

We're rational beings, and it's in our nature to ask questions. Dogs and cats live in a 'world of perception', to use Schopenhauer's phrase. Faced with something unusual, our thought is not 'What next?' but 'Why?' By answering the second of those questions, we can answer the first..

Maybe philosophical questions arise at the margin of our thinking, where the writ of reason ceases to run, and no more answers are forthcoming. Kant, in the
Critique of Pure Reason, tried to show that this might be so..
Philosophy is useful to us, precisely because it, and it alone, can vindicate the concepts through which we understand and act on the world: concepts like that of a person, which have no place in science but which describe that we understand, when we relate to the world as it truly is for us..It is in this topsoil that the seeds of human happiness are sown, and the reckless desire to scrape it away, a desire which has inspired all those "science of man'- from Marx to Freud to sociobiology-deprives us of our consolation..
Philosophy is important, therefore, as an exercise in conceptual ecology. It is a last-ditch attempt to re-enchant the world, and thereby 'save the appearance'. Philosophy arises, therefore, in two contrasted ways: first, in attempting to justify the other kind of 'Why"', the 'Why?' which looks for reason, and the 'Why?' which looks for a meaning. Most of the traditional branches of Philosophy stem from those two attempts, the first of which is hopeless, the second of which is our best source of hope..

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