Archive | Metaphilosophy RSS feed for this section

Ayer’s Function of Philosophy in Language, Truth, and Logic ( A Metaphilosophy #2)

2 Dec

I am writing a few things here on my free of obligations thursday so that I can get some posts in before I won’t be able to write anything for about a month (I think). This is simply because I have a ton of school things to do for the next 2 weeks and then I will have Christmas break and will have little time.  I will for sure come back to writing by the week of January 10.

I want to talk about an aspect of another section in A.J. Ayer’s Language Truth and Logic. The second section of the book is the Function of Philosophy. I find this interesting because metaphilosophy and finding out what the goal of philosophy is should be held dear by any philosopher. Again showing his rejection for metaphysics Ayer states that the function for philosophy is not to find insight on metaphysical things. Ayer says that the search for a first philosophy is not really the goal. First philosophy is the kind of philosophizing Descartes did in his meditations.

Ayer proclaims philosophy to be a critic. This is for one thing towards scientific propositions where philosophy is used to critique the sciences and make it better. Mostly, he states philosophy to be a critic in that it tells one whether their beliefs are  ‘self consistent’ or not, and that it shows the things we use to find the truth ( or lack thereof) in our propositions. This function of philosophy contributes to science and critiques things one scientifically proposes. Ayer seems to be defending against the idea that science cannot do without philosophy because of induction. He goes on to say that induction cannot be solved, and we should deal with it in science and philosophy is not really needed for this purpose.

Others in the logical positivist era and before it have maintained the idea that science can do without philosophy and simply that philosophy assists philosophy by critiquing it and making it the best it possibly can be. In the beginning of logical positivism, the Vienna Circle (influenced by Mach and Wittgenstein, and including Carnap, Hempel, Schlick and others) wrote the Scientific Conception of the World. “The goal ahead is a unified science. the endeavor is to link and harmonize  the achievements of individual investigators in their various fields of science. From this aim follows the emphasis on collective efforts, and also the emphasis on what can be grasped intersubjectively; from this springs the search for a neutral system of formulae, for a symbolism freed from the slag of historical languages; and also the search for a total system of concepts.” This I quoted from the Scientific Conception of the World. The aim these scientists show to have is to give philosophy a goal to contribute in this unified science with physics, chemistry and all other sciences contributing in any specific theory. Philosophy just seems here to be one of many parts of a collective effort. Philosophy plays a huge part in this collective effort in that its theories can contribute to any kind of discipline or science. Did I mention the members of the Vienna Circle rejected metaphysics too? Its what all the positivists were doing. If your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too? I am simply joking because of how many people in the logical positivist era who advocated a verification, an a priori epistemology, and the rejection and elimination of all metaphysics and its pseudo-statements. I can understand why they feel the need to remove metaphysics from philosophy because science does some of metaphysics’ roles in the most logical way possible (I am kind of being facetious). A unified science achieved by collective efforts among many sciences and disciplines is one goal philosophy has. This should not involve the rejection of metaphysics however.

Putting science aside, I feel philosophy is not simply an additive profession used to critique and assist scientific experimentation and exploration. In mostly non-metaphysical aspects of philosophy, there are roles in philosophy made specifically for the critique and use in science, but an underlying goal or purpose exists under all specialized goals and roles the specific kinds of philosophy has (such as I feel the Vienna Circle refers to the philosophy of science and not really to the rest of philosophy as they may have thought). The huge purpose philosophy seems to me to have is the role in doing what science and experimentation cannot.  Science cannot prove the existence of noumenal beings or transcendent realities but philosophy actually has a chance at doing just that. If one uses the intersection of metaphysics and epistemology along with some ethics (and of course logic as the foundation of understandings) to postulate upon our empirical and un-empirical observations, things can be discovered that science cannot measure up to. This is why I think the unified science by the collective efforts of all disciplines including philosophy is the best combination because science being paired with philosophy can yield great results. Philosophical propositions can be experimented sometimes scientifically and proved out.

I totally advocate the unified science proposed by the Vienna Circle, but instead of eliminating half of the entire body of philosophy, it should be revitalized and used toward science’s benefit. Metaphysics can be beneficial to scientists as can some religion.  Philosophy should be used whenever possible in all disciplines of science.

I have interest in metaphilosophy to help philosophers define and redefine the purpose being driven toward. I want to keep addressing themes in metaphilosophy here every once in awhile to keep thoughts on track. Each philosopher regardless of situation has his or her own course of action to take to complete a philosophical project or work. I have my own so I feel it necessary to keep metaphilosophically addressing philosophy right now, and the philosophy I currently pursue.

What function or goal do you think philosophy should have?

Let me know your answer if you would like to (on Twitter, commenting below, or by email).

I appreciate the support as always.


Philosophy of the Philosopher (A Metaphilosophy #1)

20 Jul

I had just started reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, and after the second proposition, I have been sent into thought. I do not want to talk about Nietzsche’s preliminary prefatory propositions in his text, but the fact that he was talking about what the common philosopher looks for, is what makes me think.

After much thought, I am writing because I want to think about while writing: 1) what the philosopher seeks, and 2)what the philosopher’s psychological characteristics are to make him think in such a way.

First, what does a person have to be like, and what must his/her personality be to be a philosopher? A regular person that does regular activities has the ability to think logically. Most people have common sense and are able to think logically. Logic is not what makes the philosopher unique. I hate to use this cliche, but philosophers “Think outside the box.” By the box, I mean the means of thought that everyone else uses to find truth and the answers to problems. The box includes mostly logic and common sense that everyone else uses (logic is used even when people do not know it). The box also is the group of things that the regular person thinks of every day (sex, food, money, controlled substances, entertainment etc.).  The box varies from person to person, but excluding philosophers, this box is the regular, run of the mill, almost cliched things that everyone else thinks about on a daily basis.

The philosopher’s brain is occupied with epistemological, metaphysical, advanced logical, cosmological etc. things that most people do not think about daily. Usually the person either has the answer to “why are we here?”, or they could care less. Regular life on earth causes a seclusion of our lives here, where outside matters are often overlooked. Philosophers do not overlook the slightest matter that is outside of this regular human life seclusion. If the philosopher overlooks anything, he overlooks what goes on between humans inside this human seclusion of a world. Kant would have never written Critique of Pure Reason if he did not think outside the box, Plato would not have written the Republic if he did not think outside Athenian life in the polis, as well as Zizek would have never written Plague of Fantasies if he did not think differently from the advances of everyone else. One has to think outside the box to even care about anything besides interhuman matters. People cannot understand why philosophers think about the things philosophers think about, just as philosophers cannot understand how everyone else can overlook such things. So, in essence, philosophers think about things totally different from what everyone else thinks about. This leads me to the long heard saying: “Everyone has a philosophy, but not everyone is a philosopher.” I state this as my points being driven home because everyone has an opinion that can be considered a philosophy, but all of these ‘philosophies’ are not the philosophies that famous published philosophers have. Philosophers’ philosophies are different from the ‘philosophies’ of everyone else because of what the philosopher seeks.

The philosopher looks for the unanswered. They do not necessarily look for truth, or falsity, but they look for what is desired to be answered by at least a small group of people. Philosophers find data, and prepare an opinion on that data just like any scientist or politician, but philosophers look for things that no scientist or politician would find. Philosophers look to prove truth, falsity, or indeterminacy.  Politicians or scientists do not look for indeterminacy, usually for truth or falsity. Philosophers gather information and data to get from one point to another, even if the end result might be indeterminacy. Philosophers look for indeterminacy because they are willing to accept it and find other data supporting it, and other data telling more about the indeterminate. I find this intriguing to think of philosophers this way. Many philosophers are not willing to admit to have found indeterminacy, but I am confident to say that philosophers would rather accept indeterminacy about something that is thought to be true, than falsity. Finally, I think that philosophers are unique and great in that respect because of the fact that any analogy, example, or story can be used as an example to a philosophy. Philosophy does this using the ancient skill of rhetoric, making many things a difficulty to disprove, or find truth in, or rule indeterminate.

I was just thinking about the nature of philosophers. If you think I am wrong in anything above, please @reply me on twitter (go to the About CosmosZ page on this site) with what you think, or comment below, or email me at