John McCreery wrote
This formula draws a fine line between philosophy, the physical sciences and mathematics. But what distinguishes philosophy from other activities that also deal with difficult problems outside the scope of physical science or mathematics? History has been mentioned. What of literary criticism, anthropology, politics, marketing, haute cuisine, therapy, jazz or art, for example? Life appears to be full of difficult problems that do not lend themselves to performing experiments or solving equations. Does philosophy encompass them all?
I'm a bit surprised to learn that politics, marketing, creative cooking, 'therapy,' anthropology do not make use of measurement and observation, and that they all ignore empirical findings. Are they, then, just thought experiments and guess-work? Philosophers do not weigh and measure in order to obtain their results; it seems to me that one could not perform experiments without having made at least a few observations, and that equations make use of formulae whose variables might range over things in our common world (as in engineering).
Yet, it's true, of course, that there are disciplines and areas of studywhich do not use experimental means, etc., but are not philosophy, simply for that reason. So, should I add that philosophy deals with a certain non-empirical subject-matter (about which I'll then be asked, 'And what subject-matter, precisely?').
Last night in order to try to forestall definitional questions of the sort John (and Irene) have raised, I listed a year's worth of philosophy offerings at a small, liberal arts college. I have considerable inductive evidence that they are typical. My purpose was to say, in effect, 'these and similar things are called philosophy.' If you can look at the course offerings of the Berklee College of music, or the California Culinary Institute, and not see how they differ from these philosophy courses, it may be that I can't be of much more help (if I have been any).
Robert Paul Reed College ------------------------------------------------------------------ To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off, digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html