The most essential feature of philosophy: vision

From an article by Edip Yuksel. Find the whole thing here


At the heart of any philosophy worth the name is vision, and it is from there it springs and takes its visible shape. When I say Ôvision’ I mean it: I do not want to romanticize. What is characteristic of philosophy is the piercing of that dead crust of tradition and convention, the breaking of those fetters which bind us to inherited preconceptions, so as to attain a new and broader way of looking at things. (Frederick Waismann, How I see philosophy)

Philosophic arguments enrich our vision and suggest different alternatives. For instance, let’s assume several philosophers riding in a buss hearing someone say “There are 38 persons in this bus.” They can refute this statement with different arguments. One may claim, “if we consider 6 month-old fetuses as persons there are 39 persons in this bus, since there is a pregnant lady here.” Another may add, “if we consider animals as persons there are 40 persons here, since the blind man has a dog.” One may interrupt, “if we are really referring to persons, not to bodies, then there are probably more than 40 persons on this bus, since some of the passengers may have multiple personalities.” This argument may continue. In the end:

1. The amount of money paid for tickets more likely won’t change.

2. People will learn how inexact and unreliable is their daily language.

3. The lawyers will try to find a way to exploit this tricky language.

4. The debate on abortion will focus on the definition of Ôpersonhood.’

5. Some of the passengers will have a feast of intellectual entertainment, while some others will plug their ears.

I won’t liken philosophers to a gang of blind wannabe zoologists trying to describe an elephant by touching her body from different positions. Philosophers, develop and create new perspectives for old problems. As a by-product of their zeal they create many new problems. Nevertheless, each argument, by opening another peephole from a different direction contributes to enlarge our vision. Occasionally, one of those peepholes changes the whole picture.

How do you see it? 

Some of my favorite negotiations are philosophical ones, and since I am a therapist, i have the pleasure of doing it all day long. So many peepholes…so little time.

Start With No


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