Philosophy is actually Science.

The further back you go in history, the less separate philosophy and science are. Even Newton called his work “philosophy”. All the Greek thinkers were engaging with the frontiers of science of their own time: Euclidean geometry and astronomy. If you go back and read Plato’s explanation of the Theory of Ideas, it was nothing else besides an explanation for both craft knowledge, engineering, and science. (Think of the craftsman with his idea of the table in the Republic). Even though we now see Plato’s philosophy as rather non-scientific and religious,  what he was fundamentally after was an explanation for how humans have knowledge that allows them to get things done. We are still trying to solve this problem. While we have made a lot of progress since Plato’s time, his contribution is still important.

While the Ancients had their politics, the politics was a side dish served with their confrontation with the frontiers of science. That’s why you can spend your life reading them even if you disagree with their politics. Not the case with others who take their cue from political issues and are stuck in philosophically-“informed” rallying and shaming. In my view, anybody who makes political activism a large part of their philosophy condemns their work to oblivion rather than millennia of admiration. Look at Plato, Marx, Sartre and Heidegger; in spite of their genius, their political activity are all blots on their legacies.

I see this all the time when I engage others in discussion. This is the main problem with the Continental Tradition since (but not including) Heidegger: lack of sincere engagement with fundamental science. Husserl and Heidegger both got their start from engaging with debates on the foundations of formal or exact science, and the later Heidegger contributed essentially to my understanding of what I’m doing as I study computer science. Even “The Question Concerning Technology” is foundational for my metaphysics, if you have the subtlety to see it. However, the later politicization of his thinking was not neutral and therefore abandoned the path of true philosophy since Thales. Heidegger was too scared of the modern world to properly develop his engagement with science. It is only decades later that we can repair his mistakes.

So when I debate someone suffering from “dead-end” philosophy, I just ask them “Where’s the connection with fundamental science that we see with Thales, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger and all the analytic thinkers? What’s changed? How is that a good change? Have the foundations of metaphysics changed, or have you lost your way?”

There is no essential and objective basis for a demarcation between science and philosophy except for what ever the  limits of science might be at the time. Philosophy is the frontier of science, not it’s opposite. This has always been the case: both fields grow at the same rate, and debate the same issues from different perspectives.

Philosophy is not a part of science, rather science is part of philosophy.

 

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