"If my house is on fire and I'm asleep in bed, forget the rules
and manners, break a window, come in and wake me up." - MA
Philosophical Methods and Approach
Regarding how philosophers share their philosophy, they have used a
variety of methods to get the attention of potential listeners, all the
way from hijinks, stunts and making a spectacle out of themselves, to
stories, parables and preaching, and to the Socratic method of asking
stimulating questions to initiate a focused discussion or dialogue. The
Socratic method is probably the best in most cases because it is less
obstreperous and engages the other persons' mind before anything else happens.
In view of the kinds of questions that philosophers deal with, what
methods does the philosopher use to seek important answers? The
philosopher's tools are basically three: observation or learning, logic,
and speculative reasoning. In the Western tradition the development of
LOGIC is usually traced to Aristotle, who aimed at constructing valid
arguments and also true arguments if true premises could be uncovered.
Logic has played an important role in ancient and modern
philosophy‑‑that of providing a clarification of the reasoning process
and standards by which valid reasoning can be recognized. It has also
provided a means of analyzing basic concepts to determine if they are
consistent or not.
Logic alone, however, is not enough to answer philosophers' questions.
It can show when philosophers are being consistent or not, and when their
concepts are clear and unambiguous and when they are not,
but it cannot ascertain if the first principles or the premises are
correct. Here philosophers sometimes rely on what they call intuition
and sometimes on a speculative reasoning process. From their initial
premises, philosophers then try to work out a consistent development of
their answers to basic philosophical questions, following the rules of logic.
Irrationalist philosophers, however, such as the Danish thinker
Sören Kierkegaard, have contended that the less logical the solution to
philosophical problems, the better. Philosophers such as these
sometimes argue that the most important elements of existence and
experience cannot be contained by logic, which is, after all, an element
of experience itself. The part, they argue, cannot explain the whole.
There has to be some kind of foundation upon which logic can operate.
This opens the door to consider the most important spiritual aspect of a
human being, the spark of godhood or the image of godhood buried within us. I
say buried, not only because it is buried beneath a mountain of
superstition, false religion, false information, and unsound reasoning;
but because this internal reference point is repressed, stifled,
muffled by the five factors of repression:
- the relentless indifference of physical reality
- the programming to put ultimate authority externally
- the programming of diminution of value and worth
- an overwhelming miasma of defeatism
The prevailing thinking goes like this: How can we mere, weak, inferior,
pitiful human victims construct a valid philosophy, a system of wisdom
that will make THE difference? Isn't this a most preposterous
proposition? Out of our reach?