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How would you characterize the discipline of philosophy? Introduction to Philosophy - Classiscal and Contemporary Readings (Fourth Edition)

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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True to the branch of philosophy, in general, I think you will find more questions than answers.  I would think that one of the characteristics of philosophy would be the idea of raising questions and being able to explore multiple valences of understanding within the discipline.  I think that Bertrand Russell might be on to something when he suggests that philosophy is different from other branches of inquiry because it raises more questions than answers.  In characterizing philosophy and what the branch entails, I would have to say that this is true.  The question, the intellectual journey is what drive philosophy.  When philosophical answers are present, it moves to another branch of science.  Russell, again, uses the example of how astronomy used to be included in philosophy, but once specifics were ascertained, it moved out of the realm of philosophical inquiry.  The essence of philosophy is this idea of being able to generate questions, develop answers to them only to create more questions. It seems at this point that the philosopher has to be content with asking questions and being able to engage in a sense of wide ranging play.  I think that this is a distinct element of the discipline because of what it entails.  The idea of being able to discuss the nature of being, the state of reality, what it means to know and what it means to believe in something outside of oneself are all areas that strike at our very being in consciousness.  To pretend to be able to come up with absolute answers to such topics is arbitrary and reductive, taking away from any true hope at understanding.  It is because of this that the belief of asking questions and probing into the nature of what is and what can be marks out philosophy as fundamentally different from other branches of inquiry.

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krishna-agrawala | Student

There is no universally accepted definition of philosophy. As a matter of fact there is very wide range expert opinions, including those of great philosophers of the past regarding the nature and definition of philosophy.

The discipline of philosophy is concerned with the understanding the basic reality of the nature and existence of the world that is beyond the physical nature of the universe. It is an attempt to discover the ultimate truth that is applicable to everything and under all circumstances. The purpose of philosophy is to gain the knowledge of truth, rather than use this knowledge for getting anything else.

In its attempt to discover the truth, philosophy examines the relationships between individual, that is one who knows or perceives the physical reality of the world, with the universe or the physical reality perceived. Perhaps philosophy emerged out of human emotions of wonder, curiosity, and the desire to know and understand.  Philosophy is a form of inquiry which uses processes such as analysis, criticism, interpretation, and speculation.