Philosophical methodology

Philosophical method (or philosophical methodology) is the study of how to do philosophy. A common view among philosophers is that philosophy is distinguished by the ways that philosophers follow in addressing philosophical questions. There is not just one method that philosophers use to answer philosophical questions.

Systematic philosophy attempts to provide a framework in reason that can explain all questions and problems related to human life. Examples of systematic philosophers include Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, and Hegel. In many ways, any attempts to formulate a philosophical method that provides the ultimate constituents of reality, a metaphysics, can be considered systematic philosophy. In modern philosophy the reaction to systematic philosophy began with Kierkegaard and continued in various forms through analytic philosophy, existentialism, hermeneutics, and deconstructionism.

Some common features of the methods that philosophers follow (and discuss when discussing philosophical method) include:

Plato said that "philosophy begins in wonder", a view which is echoed by Aristotle: "It was their wonder, astonishment, that first led men to philosophize and still leads them." Philosophizing may begin with some simple doubts about accepted beliefs. The initial impulse to philosophize may arise from suspicion, for example that we do not fully understand, and have not fully justified, even our most basic beliefs about the world.

Another element of philosophical method is to formulate questions to be answered or problems to be solved. The working assumption is that the more clearly the question or problem is stated, the easier it is to identify critical issues.

A relatively small number of major philosophers prefer not to be quick, but to spend more time trying to get extremely clear on what the problem is all about.

This page was last edited on 26 February 2018, at 19:15.
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