Samuel M. Thompson „The Nature of Philosophy“. The book was published in January, 1961 Monmouth, Illinois.
Samuel M. Thompson- a member of Monmouth College. In Monmouth Colleg‘s faculty he became chairman of the Philosophy Department. His first book, A Modern Philosophy of Religion, as well as his second book, The Nature of Philosophy, became widely used in many colleges and universities.
This book is assigned mostly to beginning students. Its purpose is to introduce them to the kind of thinking from which philosophy derives. The book contains several sections that analysis different aspects of philosophy. It involves questions of philosophy origin, purpose, philosophical problems and so on. The book is divided into four parts. Each part includes different chapters towards philosophy. These parts are deeply connected with each other. The Nature of philosophy is exaustive book of philosophical history within all variety of its problematical aspects. Samuel M. Thompson begins its philosophical research out of ordinary experience. In all human experience there is a constant search for meaning and for intelligibility. All human beings, no matter from what continent they are, or what gods they believe in faces mostly the same existential problems. Philosophy is a window to our deeper knowledge. It takes all our areas of activity, no matter if it is mathematics, religion or ethics.
I am going to discuss two parts of this book. The first part is called the nature and method of philosophy, the second part calls philosophy of science and mathematics.
The Nature and Method of Philosophy ( part 1.)
As it is important for every student and not only for him to get acquainted with philosophy, the first question arives: What is philosophy? This word came from the Greek language that expresses the love of wisdom. „ It is through wonder that men begin to philosophize, whether in older times or today…The result of wonderment and perplexity is to feel oneself ignorant; if then, it was to escape ignorance that men began to philosophize, it is evident that they were pursuing this sort of study in order to know and not from any motive of utility“. In other words, philosophy is an intelectual curiosity and its source is wonderment. Samuel M. Thompson even describes it as theoretical inquiry. Every person who takes his existance seriously, asks philosophical questions, such as: What makes life worth living? What is my place in this world…..? In all ages people were concerned with these questions. They asked them in different languages, in different manner, but the meaning of such questions was usually the same. The problem arives together with these questions, since the answer to them is usually unachievable or abstract. But even if we got lost in abundance of questions and the answer to them seems so distant, the attempt to find them makes as deserving to live in this world. „Without philosophy life either is lived blindly or else is lived on trust alone“.
Samuel M. Thompson describes philosophy as being different from other sciences. Philosophy is not so specializated as other scientific disciplines. It seeks to understand the wholeness of our world or objects observed. Despite this fact, philosophy has also analytical side as to study things just in their wholeness or broader relationship would be unacceptable. „ All philosophy is an endeavor to obtain a self- consistent understanding of things observed. Thus its development is quided in two ways, one is demand for coherent self- consistency, and the other is the elucidation of things observed.“
Philosophy is not so closed as other sciences. It seeks for deeper and more universal knowledge. The facts, statistics is just secondary thing for it. Philosophy is anxious with more broader questions. It is a search for the meaning of exsistence. It includes not just such problems what we desire but what we ought to desire. To answer these questions, facts are not enough. We should look at our situation in broader context, to inquire in the whole scheme of things. Author gives several examples in order to show how different philosophy is from other sciences. All other special sciences are concerned with more or less narrow facts, but no of it studies man as man in an attempt to understand the meaning of human existence. Thus the search for deeper meaning brings us to the question of ultimates ( the final and the main things in existance). The book brings us back to the ancient thought in order to show what different attitudes towards ultimates were in those days. There are philosophies which even deny the existence of ultimates but with such denial they are setting forth theories of ultimate.
Samuel M. Thompson emphasizes the great importance of language in philosophical inquiry. Language is the indispensable instrument of thought.
So as philosophy is a search of deeper meaning of our existence, it could be defined as a reflective inquiry. Its attempt not to seek new information but to try to discover the meaning of the facts we already know. It is an additional knowledge that principally is interested in a search for truth. Moreover, it contains the interest in method by which we try to find the truth. Philosophical reflection is concerned with ultimates. It involves the problem of how we know.
„ Philosophical thinking is guided and evaluated in terms of its logical soundness“.
It helps us to find out what is true and what is false. Such logical standards are necessity and universality.
Philosophy is unique in its manner. Philosophy is not such autonomic discipline as others. Its context is broader as it includes all our ares of activity. In every our daily situation we face philosophical problems. As long as thought exists, philosophy exists.
In the first chapter Samuel M. Thompson introduced us to the main attitudes of philosophy. He explained the great importance and singularity of this discipline. As the first chapter gave us some explict information about it, the second, The study of philosophy, brings us deeper. Now as the student is introduced to it, Samuel M. Thompson suggests him to go further, since many philosophical points are still undiscussed.
The Study of Philosophy
Author begins with the idea that many of us are quite unaware of our contact with philosophy and our own personal use of it. First of all we should be aware of philosophical language. We should be introduced with such philosophical ideas as existance, knowledge, true and false, good and bad…
Such ideas are active in our mind as it have deep historical roots.