Do Philosophers Disagree?

 §  1 
 §  2 
 §  3 
 §  4 
 §  5 

Do Philosophers Disagree?

Page 5

An instance of this is the problem of the antinomy between ‘purpose’ and ‘chance’ in the course of the world’s events. Suppose a given spot on a large surface were to be hit by a projectile and that this would have a specific effect, setting in motion a specific development that would, appropriately be interpreted as the aim of the hitting procedure. The event of the projectile hitting the specific spot could happen in three ways: first, aiming the projectile in a purposive, conscious way, i.e., assuming that there is a consciousness that directs the projectile; second, a state of affairs where either pre-arranged and consciousness-directed or a natural volition – whether conscious or not does not matter – leads the projectile to the specific spot and to this spot only by means of a natural law, such as attraction; third, having an enormous number of projectiles and unlimited time so that an increasing probability would eventually lead one projectile to hit the specific spot. The first option would then correspond to purpose and design, the second would leave the problem unsolved, i.e., necessitate an enquiry into the nature or the cause of a state of affairs that is either ‘pre-arranged’ or ‘natural’. The third option , in view of the interference of unlimitedness, would entail a coincidence of purposive and chance happenings. Although purpose and chance are real opposites, purpose can be brought about by a large enough number of chances. If we understand the bodily focus of consciousness as an inseparable part of the ‘world’, then, the problem of consciousness needed for the focus, the purpose, would, according to the analogy, require trying a number of transformations of the concept in order to enable us to relate its subject – the phenomenon of consciousness - to the totality of phenomena, that is, to the ‘world’.

Other opposite views must similarly be brought in relation with one another. One such pair is ‘reason’ and ‘life’, where reason is taken as an organ of life, subordinated to life which, in turn, is imagined as, essentially,, irrationality, self-contained. Hence there would follow a contradiction between irrational life and reason. The solution to this dilemma entails an opposite line of enquiry. Reason is an organ of life only in a conception of life, distinguishable from reason, that prevents it from entering the reasoning of the rational faculty. Reason is an organ of life only if it sticks to its own rational line and is not affected by the unassimilated urge of life. Many other problems conform to this pattern.

So much for the dialectic between single features of the world.


It is well to remember that, in one respect, there is nothing ‘new’ in philosophy. Weight and importance are taken away from the countless documentations of philosophical insights, once we understand that they represent mere constructs of the mind and that it remains to be seen, in some distant future, whether they are true – all are so far unproven, if not refuted as false. Actually, none is really refuted, since it is impossible to refute them without knowing the truth about the world. However, the real philosophical assumption is that the world is such an infinitely complicated entity that it can afford, so to speak, that they should all be true. Only as regards an object such as the world and, therefore, only in philosophy is such a state of affairs possible. It is clearly impossible in science or in everyday reasoning on specific objects. In the case of the ‘world’, it not merely possible, but expected. Illusion, Appearance, Perspective, Deperspectivisation, Thing-in-itself, Reality are not basic concepts from which to start, but ends and aims in philosophy. Philosophy is like seeing, in that the first impulse cannot be to mistrust it. It can only be mistrusted in favour of a better seeing, not in favour of not seeing at all. The philosophical concept of truth is concerned, in the first place, with viewing a real object (namely the ultimate); it is concerned with reasoning only as a means for comparing different views of it, not as an end in itself. There is no truth and no rationality outside of the truth and rationality that applies to this mystical object, the World or Reality.