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The Inevitability of Philosophy

by Henk Tuten

Philosophy is often called useless. Not seldom in circles of 'exact' science. This observation is completely opposite to my 'intuition'. Therefore I wrote this article.

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Splitting mental processes in understanding and reasoning is quite artificial, but for Kant this was necessary to distinguish knowledge based on experience, and judgements based on reason alone.

In Kant's view:
In science we try to understand, while reason gives us metaphysics. Or science was considered as objective mind-modeling of reality using concepts, and metaphysics seen subjectively as pure reasoning.

The border between physics and metaphysics became common sense, but in fact it is nothing but a since long outdated concept. This border was quite useful in an ever more rational world, but it is merely a rational invention by thinkers like Descartes and Hume.

Splitting presumed objective experiences from so called subjective thought fits perfectly in a 100 per cent rational view. It's like calling somebody a terrorist, when this person sees themself as fighting for life.

Kant invented the suspect concept of a priori to fit the rational concept 'subjective' in his world of thought. Maybe Kant was the last of the really great non-rational thinkers. Yet he admired Hume, and tried to make the metaphysical world work according to rational rules.

Since Descartes the influence of rationalism only grew. Capitalism afterwards made it even stronger. That's why the strict line between physics and metaphysics lasted so long.

In my view, every 'science' is in fact a 'mind-world' (see my article Mini-Tractatus) and of course often triggered by experience. So all science is pure reason, and therefore also is philosophy.

For the sake of clarity it is better to speak of philosophy 'of' mathematics, and (especially) of the philosophy of physics, and so on. This to stress that they study a view of the world, based on basic concepts. So only inside such a mind-world, can one objectively use the concepts of this system of thought. Much of this internal view has after ages on earth became common sense. But when we take a different view it appears merely subjective.

Popper said about this that there are no 'hard' experiences. These only get a context by using some suitable theory and as such never can be can be more than triggers of scientific 'knowledge'. In other words such knowledge is not objective outside human thinking, and is nothing more than a human-made product. It should be labeled 'made on the earth'.

Thus there is no general need for a border between philosophy and 'science'.

And there is no metaphysics, because no thought is objective outside its own mind-world. So for people studying physics everything that does not fit their way of thought is metaphysics and vice versa. Meta only means 'outside', and thus physics is meta-metaphysics.

Humans have views, part of these became common during evolution, and the rest diverge. There are limitless views, some based, some not based on what Lakatos called 'research fields', a scientific and difficult way to describe experience.

Of course the difference between a technical approach (based on experience) and pure reasoning remains useful. It's like the contrast between psychology of human doings and philosophy of thinking.

'Intelligence' is something we hope one day to find outside the earth. In our world this is the ability to show other than linear behavior. In other words, to act unexpectedly, and not in the line of experience. In the latest part our evolution that ability came to be known as philosophy.

© Henk Tuten


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