What is Philosophy? // Bertrand Russell

By | 1st August 2018

“‘Philosophy’ is a word which has been used in many ways, some wider, some narrower. I propose to use it in a very wide sense. which I will now try to explain.

Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that or revelation. All definite knowledge — so I should contend — belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man’s Lan, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man’s Land is philosophy. Almost all the questions of most interest to speculative minds are such as science cannot answer, and the confident answers of theologians no longer seem so convincing as they did in former centuries….

To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralysed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.”

— Bertrand Russell (“A History of Western Philosophy”)

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