What is philosophy?

Philosophy pursues questions rather than answers. It alms at understanding and enlightenment rather than shorthand answers. Despite the fact that it is absolutely committed to the truth, certainty in philosophy is never given and complete as we cannot definitely close out the totality it strives to capture. Therefore the search for truth is rather like constant striving for more insight than for the final word on the matters of life and the world. Nevertheless, a true philosopher is not bounded by any particular “truths” that set limits to his urge to continue forming enquiries.

Philosophy does not have any specific subject matter and hence cannot be defined with regard to any particular scope of investigation. It may deal with every dimension of human life and can raise queries in any field of study or endeavor. Skepticism lies at the heart of philosophy. Therefore, asking a question is more fundamentally important than answering one. However, we should always keep in mind that philosophy properly done is not mere speculation. Just like scientists, philosophers formulate hypotheses which ultimately must answer to reason and evidence.

Philosophy starts from bewilderment, curiosity, amazement about the world, life, and ourselves. It emerges from the functioning of an inquisitive mind which is puzzled by seemingly common things or by those that appear to be entirely impractical. Philosophers articulate their initial concern by formulating questions (mostly what, how and why questions) that guide their curiosity toward the comprehension of the problem. Russell revives the same Idea in claiming that philosophy “keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect”.

As soon as we begin to philosophize, we find that even the most everyday things lead to confusing problems while those initially “impractical” issues often prove very significant even for our temporal needs and certainly for our self-understanding. Russell admits that philosophy is not very much successful in providing “definite answers” to Its questions but explains the apparent inconclusiveness of philosophic answers partly as deceptive, partly as Inevitable. 4 One might ask, If philosophy Is Just “a residue” of unanswered questions or a pursuit of the unknown, why should we keep doing it?

The answer is simple – Just dealing with the enigma increases our comprehension of the problem and the complications involved in it. Without philosophic curiosity displayed, many important issues would have been overlooked or forgotten a long ago. Thus by continuing to raise questions and studying their implications, as Russell points out, we keep theoretical interest alive no matter whether It can yield positive results or not. This Is a rational strategy study. Therefore, despite the fact that philosophy does not provide definitive answers, it is not a futile activity of human mind.

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