The Philosophical Predicament

The Philosophical Predicament

The Philosophical Predicament

The Philosophical Predicament

Excerpt

This book is an expanded version of the Inaugural Lecture which I gave in 1946, after my appointment to the Chair of Philosophy in the Durham Division of the University of Durham. The lecture was published under the title Is Philosophy Possible? in Philosophy, April, 1947, and I am indebted to the Editor for permission to use certain parts of the printed lecture. The publication of the lecture brought me not a few letters from people known and unknown to me, at home in England and abroad in places as remote as Egypt and Australia, expressing interest in what I had said and a hope that I would say it in greater detail. One of the letters was a specific invitation from the publishers to do so, and, though I was occupied in writing upon ethics at the time, I was encouraged to accept the invitation by the interest manifested in the original lecture. I hoped, in my innocence, that a year would suffice. In the event it has taken between two and three years of my leisure time, and I feel that another six or seven would not be too much to make my mind clear on the subject.

Many people are puzzled by the fact that professional philosophers now leave uncultivated great tracts of the traditional philosophical territory and confine themselves to answering questions that seem, at first sight, to have no relevance to the human problems of man's life on earth, his moral well-being and his future destiny. Professor Moore, a leading English philosopher of to-day, asks: "What do we mean when we say 'This is a good big inkstand'?" Professor Broad examines the nature of points, patches of colour and physical objects, questions which seem as much scientific as philosophical. Earl Russell regards his reflections on morality and politics as falling outside philosophy proper. In short, many professional philosophers regard philosophy to-day as "scientific" and prefer to say that they do not philosophize . . .

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