Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Importance and Influence of Philosophical Thinking for Librarians

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Importance and Influence of Philosophical Thinking for Librarians

Article excerpt


The library, which has survived for centuries as the memory of mankind and a social force, librarianship, an old and influential profession, and librarians, whose professional identity enjoyed recognition, all face the challenge of opponents who claim that they are outmoded. To meet opposing views successfully, librarians must attach importance to Philosophical Thinking (PT) and produce philosophical thoughts. The views of Butler (1933), Danton (1934), Foskett (1962), Shera (1962, 1969, 1971), Nitecki (1964, 1993, 1995), and Mukherjee (1966) are still useful for countering the challenge of opponents and for carrying the profession into the future.

Various definitions have been suggested for "philosophy." Passmore (1967:218), for example, says, "philosophy can tell us what life and nature 'mean,' what value or purpose they have. ... In its most general form, philosophy elucidates the meaning of the 'universe as a whole'." According to Cevizci (2002) philosophical thought emerges as a result of asking, and it develops along with interest in the problems of life. This approach emerges from curious, questioning, investigating, and critical minds. Answers and solutions resulting from PT are based on analysis and synthesis. Thought (the outcomes of information, experience, perception, and intuition) is analyzed and clarified, and is carried to a synthesis. PT, which may focus on any issue, simple or complex, enables an individual to assess life, nature, the world, the universe, and his or her own personal life through a systematic and rational approach; thus PT adds meaning and value to existence.

The relationship between the one who wants to know and that which is to be known constitutes the essence of PT. According to Oner (2005), thinking requires acquisition of information about something to be known. This information can be obtained directly by perception, or indirectly through reading or other means of communication. In order to convey information obtained by perception to another person, it must be organized into a concept. The mind does not merely take the image of something, it strives to grasp the essence and meaning of that image and makes the image dependent on the concept. Thinking becomes possible with concepts. Since concepts can be expressed in words, thought is transferable. The mind reaches premises by linking concepts, and premises are prejudgments reached by thinking. The mind makes inferences and reaches conclusions by establishing relations among premises. Knowledge is inferences placed in order. "Thinking" is in fact a process of making inferences and reaching conclusions. Oner (2005) also speaks about the individual's power to grasp the general through intuition. PT is a process which starts with an individual focusing on something and establishing connectivity with it. As a result of this mental process which proceeds systematically through critical approaches, one reaches a meaningful judgment and a conclusion about that something which is questioned. This conclusion can be termed "philosophical thought." Philosophical thought can be defined as the product of a PT process. According to Tamdogan (2006), when an individual finds a new answer to a query, as a result of learning and thinking, a value is created by that individual. The output or product of the process is knowledge having the value of being new.

Philosophical Thinking of the Librarian

In librarianship and the information professions, PT reflects the critical and questioning intellectual activity of theorists and librarians engaged in exploration. PT makes it possible to disclose "whats", "hows," and especially "whys"; it makes it possible to explore the meaning, value, or purpose of a subject, an object, an entity, an event, a phenomenon, a concept, a relation, a practice, through systematic, consistent, logical, rational, critical, and questioning approaches and to reach a meaningful judgment. …

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