Saturday, November 3, 2018

On Philosophy and Philosophizing

I think that it is possible for an unwise man to be a philosopher, but only a man of wisdom is capable of philosophizing. Arthur Schopenhauer was a very wise man. I find his wisdom to be more inspiring and impressive than his philosophy.

Here are three excerpts from R. J. Hollingdale’s translation of Schopenhauer’s aphorisms in Arthur Schopenhauer: Essays and Aphorisms (Section, “On Philosophy and the Intellect”; Pages: 117-118):

Schopenhauer on the two main requirements for philosophizing:
The two main requirements for philosophizing are: firstly, to have the courage not to keep any question back; and secondly to attain a clear consciousness of anything that goes without saying so as to comprehend it as a problem. Finally, the mind must, if it is really to philosophize, also be truly disengaged: it must prosecute no particular goal or aim, and thus be free from enticement of will, but devote itself undivided to the instruction which the perceptible world and its own consciousness imparts to it. 
On the difference between a poet and a philosopher:
The poet presents the imagination with images from life and human characters and situations, sets them all in motion and leaves it to the beholder to let these images take his thoughts as far as his mental powers will permit. That is why he is able to engage men of themes different capabilities, indeed fools and sages together. The philosopher, on the other hand, presents not life itself but the finished thoughts which he has abstracted from it and then demands that the reader should think precisely as, and precisely as far as, he himself thinks. That is why his public is so small. The poet can thus be compared with one who presents flowers, the philosophers with one who presents their essence. 
On the vital role that the sceptics play in philosophy:
Mere subtlety may qualify you as a sceptic but not as a philosopher. On the other hand, scepticism is in philosophy what the Opposition is in Parliament; it is just as beneficial, and indeed necessary. It rests everywhere on the fact that philosophy is not capable of producing the kind of evidence mathematics produces. 
Even if you disagree with Schopenhauer on an issue, chances are that you will be impressed by his thoughtful perspective and beautiful expression.

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