The Philosophy of a Biologist

The Philosophy of a Biologist

The Philosophy of a Biologist

The Philosophy of a Biologist

Excerpt

When we survey our experience, the manner in which we view it as a whole, and the corresponding manner in which we order our lives, may be described as our philosophy. It follows that every one must have a philosophy of some sort in so far as he attempts to act consistently or rationally; and what philosophy at any stage of its development seeks for is a viewpoint from which all aspects of our existing experience may as far as possible appear consistent with one another. It therefore discusses how far any particular belief is consistent with all aspects of our experience, or requires modification to make it so. It may be consistent with part of our experience, but this is not enough.

The general objection is often made against philosophy that system follows system of philosophy, each system being destructive of its predecessor, so that philosophy represents only a vain endeavour which may be neglected safely. But this is a completely superficial view. The ideas of every important philosophical writer are based on the work of his predecessors; and that work is not lost, but carried forward in his own ideas. It is exactly the same with science as with philosophy. When new light is thrown on the general ideas previously held in any branch of science the old ideas are not destroyed, but only developed into a form which is more consistent with experience.

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