The Problem of Knowledge

The Problem of Knowledge

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The Problem of Knowledge

The Problem of Knowledge

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Of all intellectual enterprises philosophy is perhaps the most difficult to define. A glance over the course of what is called the history of philosophy reveals not only a disappointing transitoriness of solutions and lack of unanimity among philosophers as to methods and presuppositions, but what is much more disconcerting, an almost total shift from time to time in the problems themselves. It will not do, however, to conclude at once that the grouping together of the problems generally called philosophical has been purely arbitrary.

The resort to etymology for purposes of definition is commonly of doubtful wisdom; and yet in the present instance it puts into our hands a clew which may conduct us through the maze of historical transformations to our desired definition. The philosopher has been from the first, as his name proclaims him, a lover of wisdom; and philosophy has always been, in spite of those admirably modest utterances of Pythagoras and Socrates, not the love of wisdom simply, but the best wisdom of the lover of wisdom .

But one must not take too rigidly in this connection the distinction between wisdom and knowledge. In the beginning the term "philosophy" seems to have been used to cover all such knowledge as was not either the common possession of the community or the immediate result of some special experience of the individual. It was applied to whatever there existed of those organized bodies of adequately verified knowledge, the special sciences, including mathematics. Nor is it very long since this broader use of the term was given up. Even within the memory of persons still living the physical sciences bore the name of "natural philosophy," and apparatus . . .

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