Wednesday, August 2, 2017

First Rule of Philosophy

Last fall I took a Philosophy class. I thought it would be a piece of cake because I'd been reading so much philosophy with the Great Books work. was ok. We mostly covered philosophical concepts and I can understand those to some extent. In fact, it's often much easier to understand a description of a philosophical concept than it is to understand the original philosopher's writings about it.
I wanted to mention a part of it though. One of the books that we worked with is a small volume called  'The Practice of Philosophy' by Jay Rosenberg. Rosenberg is very good at the descriptions that I mentioned above and the book is well worth your time. Much of the book is an expanded look at logic and logic forms.
The highlight for me though, was what he formulated as Rule One of philosophy:
Any opinion for which one can give reasons is admissible in philosophy, but once a claim has been supported by an argument, subsequent criticism must then engage the argument.

So if I tell you that X is better than Y for reasons 1, 2 and 3, you must then grapple with reasons 1, 2 and 3 if you're going to tell me that Y is in fact better than X. This makes complete sense, of course. If an intelligent reader sees you argue against 1 and then pretend that everything is settled, then they should be skeptical that you couldn't argue against 2 and 3.
Or worse, they may see someone dismiss any possible argument without even bothering to engage. That's absolutely plaguing our discourse today.
Would that this rule was taught in every school!

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