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"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."

Philosophical Methods and Approach
12/25/2017

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 Sren 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 god or the image of god 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:

  • fear

  • 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?

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