virus: Truth and Philosophy...I'm tired

Bill Godby (
Sat, 25 May 1996 01:47:54 -0400

Here's my last contribution to the "Big Thread" on Postmoderism and Truth.
My perspective and arguments have largely been philosophical so I'll end
with a quote from Bertrand "Bertie" Russell.

"Philosophy ,like all other studies, aims primarily at knowledge. The
knowledge it aims at is the kind of knowledge which gives unity and system
to the body of the sciences, and the kind which results from a critical
examination of our convictions, prejudices, and beliefs. But it cannot be
maintained that philosophy has had any very great measure of success in its
attempts to provide definite answers to its questions. If you ask a
mathematician, a mineralogist, a historian, or any other man of learning,
what definite body of truths has been ascertained by his science, his answer
will last as long as you are willing to listen. But if you put the same
question to a philosopher, he will , if he is candid, have to confess that
his study has not achieved positive results such as have been achieved by
other sciences. It is true that this is partly accounted for by the fact
that, as soon as definite knowledge concerning any subject becomes possible,
this subject ceases to be called philosophy, and becomes a separate science.
The whole study of the heavens, which now belongs to astronomy, was once
included in philosophy; Newton's great work was called "the mathematical
principles of natural philosophy." Similarly, the study of the human mind,
which was a part of philosophy, has now been separated from philosophy and
has become the science of psychology, thus, to a great extent, the
uncertainty of philosophy is more apparent than real: those questions which
are already capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences, while
those only to which, at present, no definite answer can be given, remain to
form the residue which is called philosophy." Bertrand Russell, Problems of
Philosophy-The Value of Philosophy Chp.15
Bill Godby