Philosophy of __________;
__________ of Philosophers

Andrew Chrucky

"Know Thyself"

"The unexamined life is not worth living." -- Socrates

[I don't think this is to be taken as meaning that a life without psychoanalysis (or depth analysis) is not worth living; rather what he meant is that a life without rational discussion is not worth living. Andrew Chrucky]


If you look at the back cover of any of the books in the Prentice-Hall's Foundations of Philosophy Series, you will notice that the majority of the titles have the form "Philosophy of ________", with the blank filled in with some suitable word; for example, Philosophy of Religion.

In fact, you can fill the blank by the names of the various departments of knowledge (or names of departments in the arts and sciences at universities). Sciences (in a broad sense) can be divided into the a priori (non-empirical) and the a posteriori (empirical) sciences. The a priori sciences include logic and mathematics; the a posteriori sciences include the subcategories of the natural and the social sciences.

However, from a general perspective, the problems of philosophy fall into three areas:
(1) What exists? (Metaphysics, Ontology)
(2) How do I know? (Logic, Methodology, Epistemology)
(3) What is valuable? (Axiology, Ethics, Aesthetics, Praxiology)

From a still different perspective -- suggested by Curt Ducasse, all areas of philosophy deal with values; so that philosophy is best characterized as composed of normative studies.

By a suitable rephrasing, these divisions of philosophy could be made to fit the "philosophy of _______" schema. For example, metaphysics would become "philosophy of being"; epistemology, "philosophy of knowing"; ethics, "philosophy of doing."

Interesting as such a classification is, let us, for the sake of experiment, try to reverse the terms in the general formula to "_________ of Philosophy"; e.g. Religion of Philosophy. Well, as this example illustrates, this is an incoherent combination. Philosophy is a study and cannot have a religion, only people can have religions. So the formula should be altered to "Religion of Philosophers." The reason why the word "philosophy" has to be replaced with "philosophers" is as follows. Philosophy, as a normative endeavor, is interested in critically examining the propositions of religions; whereas to speak of a religion is to speak about the propositions which are in fact held by a person or groups of people. So, philosophy, as a normative undertaking, is interested in actual and possible propositions in an area of inquiry, such as, religion; but to speak of a religion, for example, is prima facie to speak about the actual religious beliefs of a person or persons. And since this is true for the other things that can fill the blank is "philosophy of _____", it is more to the point to speak of the ______ of a philosopher or of a group of philosophers, rather than the "________ of philosophy."

Let's make two columns. In the first column will appear a list formulated as "philosophy of _____" and in the second column the quasi-converse of this: "_______ of philosophers." As time permits, I will try to fill these with bibliographical entries; and, where available, links to the digital texts.

Philosophy of ________

________ of Philosophers

Philosophy of PhilosophyPhilosophy of Philosophers
Philosophy of Reasoning (Logic)Reasoning of Philosophers
Philosophy of Knowledge (Epistemology)
Philosophy of Mathematics
Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of Biological Science
Knowledge (Ideologies) of Philosophers
Philosophy of Being (Metaphysics,
Philosophy of Mind
Being of Philosophers
Philosophy of Good Conduct (Ethics)Ethics of Philosophers
Philosophy of Law (Jurisprudence)Law of Philosophers
Philosophy of Art -- Painting, Music, Literature Art of Philosophers
Philosophy of LanguageLanguage of Philosophers
Philosophy of ReligionReligion of Philosophers
Philosophy of Social ScienceSociology (Anthropology) of Philosophers
Philosophy of EconomicsEconomics of Philosophers
Philosophy of HistoryHistory of Philosophers
Philosophy of PoliticsPolitics of Philosophers
Philosophy of Paranormal PhenomenaParanormal Experiences of Philosophers
Philosophy of EducationEducation of Philosophers
Philosophy of PsychologyPsychology of Philosophers

Brief Comments

Altering our perspective as suggested, we open up areas of consideration we may either have passed-by or never even thought of. As a way of suggestion, my own brief thoughts about some of these rubrics are as follows:

The sociologist Pitrim Sorokin was interested in cultural dynamics, including those of religion, art, ethics, and philosophy. To this end he made various statistical studies. His work definitely falls in the areas of sociology and ideology of philosophers.

Walter Kaufmann's writings do not fit well in any conventional philosophy rubric. They are better viewed as an examination of the virtues (ethics) of philosophers, theologians, poets, historians, and other writers. In addition, he provides psychological profiles as well.

Ernest Gellner's book, Words and Things, may be viewed as a study in the language of philosphers.

Wittgenstein's and some of John Wisdom's writings may be viewed as psychoanalytic (therapeutic) studies of philosophers.

Concerning the economics of philosophers, the APA's bulletins with statistics concerning the job market in philosophy are relevant. What is the ratio of candidates to jobs? What prospects and obstacles face them? What about the increasing tendency to hire adjuncts?

Susanna Felder, Wilfrid Sellars' widow, had written how politically savy Sellars was in the academic setting. The whole political world of philosophy, academia, and publishing can be explored. Sometimes I wonder if philosophy conventions are for the most part occasions for networking.

Many years ago, I remember reading in the Newsletters of the APA a wife's psychological profile of her philosopher husband, and a sort of anthropological description of an APA convention. About her husband, she noted his disconnection with the practical world, and his absent mindedness. About an APA convention, she noted a very great discrepancy in clothing -- from a very casual to a business-like attire, often with mismatched colors and styles; and many beards. She also noted the presence of loners and small groups. She had the impression that philosophers tended to be snobbish and arrogant. I should add that my own wife was intrigued by the presence of gay and lesbian seminars. -- All this fits into the sociology, anthropology, and psychology of philosophers.

Possibly the exploration of the "______ of philosophers" topics are more relevant to the Socratic life of self-examination than are the common "philosophy of ______" rubrics.