The Ways of Things: A Philosophy of Knowledge, Nature, and Value

The Ways of Things: A Philosophy of Knowledge, Nature, and Value

The Ways of Things: A Philosophy of Knowledge, Nature, and Value

The Ways of Things: A Philosophy of Knowledge, Nature, and Value

Excerpt

Philosophy, meaning literally "the love of wisdom," is the vaguest, oldest, and most comprehensive of all organized inquiries. It is the attempt to gain a reasoned conception of the universe and man's place in it. How and what can we learn about reality? What should we value in it? And what may we hope from it?

I. PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION

Philosophy resembles religion in its subject matter but differs from it in its spirit and method. Every great religion embodies a vision of the world and of man's place in it, and in that respect resembles a system of philosophy. But a religion is in general accepted by its followers on the basis of authority. It is viewed as a revelation of divine truth to be taken on faith and with a spirit of humility. A philosophy, on the other hand, is a work of the human mind, attained by a union of intellectual analysis and creative imagination. As such, its conclusions call for criticism and doubt rather than for loyal submission. From the predominantly rational character of philosophy there results a further difference between it and religion. A religion is, in general, something to be emotionally experienced and given a practical realization in life. It is mainly a matter of feeling and action, while philosophy is mainly a matter of thought. If we wished to condense into a single phrase . . .

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