2017/04/01 The Raison D'être of Philosophy and Begging The Question

In the hot entries there is an anticle concerning the meaning of the humanities. According to the author, when challenged to explain the meaning or the value of the humanities, scholars tend to answer by beating around the bush. They try to question what is meant by meaning or value, or to argue that the humanities are not to be judged by that criterion. The author criticizes this tendency and states that we scholars must be able to explain to the society in what way their research is of interest. 


I agree with the author. I beleive scholars must explain why their work is valuable and meaningful, but not for the same reason as the author's.

My reason is that philosophers cannot give a full answer to the question whether there is any value in philosophy, for the answer must inevitably be based on a philosophical theory of value and it is this theory that is now thown into doubt. It is a case of the fallacy called begging the question. You commit the fallacy whenever you are trying to make an argument on the basis of what you are trying to demonstrate now. So, we cannot, in a philosophical way, secure the value of philosophy as a whole.

Moreover, I believe this liability of philosophers to make their arguments more and more abstract is what makes them more difficult for others to understand. Hence the question, "What is philosophy for?" 

So, when they are challenged to explain the raison d'être of philosophy, all they can do is to explain why and how they chose their way: why they decided to live as a researcher of such and such philosophical problems. This would give the questioner the right answer. What they want is a concrete answer and a story which can be a source of empathy, not a pedantic demonstration.