[Published in Rolando M. Gripaldo, ed. 2004. Philosophical landscape.
Manila: Philippine National Philosophical Research Society.]
Rolando M. Gripaldo
Philosophy literally means “love of wisdom.” In contemporary
philosophy there are as many definitions of philosophy as there are schools
of philosophy.1 What is interesting is that one school defines philosophy to
the exclusion of other schools. For instance, the analytic school defines
philosophy as the clarification of the meanings of words, phrases, and
sentences, and it rejects metaphysical propositions as cognitively
meaningless. Its emphasis is logic and language. On the other hand, the
continental school defines philosophy in terms of the meaning of life and
one’s relationship with the world and the Other (other human beings and/
or God). It considers the activities of the analytic tradition as meaningless
to one’s life. Its emphasis is life. It is therefore advisable to just leave the
definition of philosophy in its original etymological meaning, although
even this is not safe.
Quite recently, Hans-Georg Gadamer (1989), an hermeneute, has
rejected epistemic wisdom as within the realm of human control. The ancient
Greeks defined philosophy as love of (epistemic) wisdom. Thales, who is
traditionally considered the father of philosophy, was interested in
“knowing” the ultimate reality, or the funadamental/basic stuff out of which
everything comes into being and to which everything eventually returns.
Metaphysics is the study of ultimate reality, but to “know” the ultimate
reality is to engage in an epistemological inquiry as a part of metaphysics.
In other words, the wisdom to know the ultimate reality is an epistemic
wisdom. Following Aristotle’s distinction, Gadamer...