Philosophy and the American School: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education

By Van Cleve Morris | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Ontology: The Question of Reality

WHAT IS?

The problem

If philosophy is essentially a set of problems, the very first we must tackle is the problem of reality: What is the world "made of"? To many a reader, this will sound like the most fatuous of questions. Why should we waste our time arguing about the nature and character of a world which is so obviously clear to us day by day? It is just this kind of nonsense, some say, which brings philosophy into so much disrepute in the modern world, where men who disregard such ridiculous "ivory- towered" questions go blissfully and ignorantly ahead into their world and make it do what they want it to do.

The fatuity of our question, if any, is exceeded only by the fatuity of the above hypothetical response. The fact is that modern men have succeeded in their bold technological exploits by taking seriously the important question of the nature of the world, not by ignoring it. Perhaps the classic examples of this are the atom bomb and its successor, the thermonuclear bomb, which stand as a kind of symbol of our mighty supremacy over nature. These amazing devices became possible only

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