The Independent Mind: Essays of a Humanist Philosopher

The Independent Mind: Essays of a Humanist Philosopher

The Independent Mind: Essays of a Humanist Philosopher

The Independent Mind: Essays of a Humanist Philosopher

Excerpt

The philosopher, in an intellectual sense, lives dangerously. For it is his duty, and indeed his natural bent, to be interested in practically everything; to attain the virtue of sound and broad generalization while avoiding the vice of general superficiality. He must know much about many different aspects of life and so, in fulfilling the functions of his profession, runs the risk of being a dilettante. His occupational hazard lies in probing for depth and achieving shallowness.

The true philosopher, as Plato expressed it, is "the spectator of all time and all existence." It is his formidable task, daring in its far-reaching scope, to work out a valid over-all view of man, society and the universe; and to suggest the basic principles and procedures for an inclusive, coordinated way of life. The mounting sum of human knowledge has been accompanied by its accelerating fragmentation into specialized departments which in turn split into further fields of concentration. To find some order in the endless pattern of particularized sciences and arts, to provide a comprehensive synthesis of creative thought, to offer a panoramic map of reality, is a function of philosophy which in this twentieth century assumes even more importance than before.

In the whole gamut of human experience there is scarcely anything not relevant in some way to philosophy. It is not inappropriate, then, for a philosopher to cover a wide range of . . .

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