Philosophers on the nature of philosophy

Ask a Philosopher

Catherine asked:

Do philosophers agree on the nature of philosophy?

Answer by Massimo Pigliucci

In a nutshell: yes and no, it depends. It is not easy to catch philosophers on record — especially in peer reviewed publications — freely musing about how to best characterize their own field (then again, how many scientists have you heard lately who give themselves to discussions of the definition of science?). But we live in a world in which even philosophers are getting used to social media, podcasts and blogs, and it turns out that such outlets are friendlier to our quest. So for instance, the journalist Maria Popova[1] collected a variety of responses to the question ‘What is Philosophy?’ from a number of prominent contemporary practitioners, and some of the answers are illuminating.

According to the survey, Marilyn Adams thinks that philosophy is about ‘trying to bring analytic clarity both to the questions…

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