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PHILOSOPHY

 

This section describes the philosophy of Palioxis Publishing's efforts and its argument in favor of reorganizing philosophy to advance scientific and practical insights and implement "PHILOSOPHY FOR US ALL." It reproduces a passage from Chapter 11 of "Philosophy of Happiness," a book by Martin Janello and one of the first publications by Palioxis Publishing.

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For many of us, philosophy may appear to be a lifeless or at least an irrelevant science. There does not seem to be much of a demand for philosophical services. References to philosophers may summon images of unworldly university professors, marble busts, or rows of dusty books. We may think of it as an association of scholars that predominantly focuses on its history and continuance, that endlessly discusses problems but never arrives at broadly recommended solutions. To many, philosophy signifies the abstract treatment of arcane subjects that are only of academic importance to a few experts and whose content is inaccessible to noninitiates because it is phrased in incomprehensible jargon. Philosophy is widely regarded as a science without much practical applicability, as erudition for its own sake. But we may also carry a suspicion or even the conviction that this lack of relevance is as unnecessary as it is undesirable. We understand some of the power of philosophy because we are aware of the search for and applicability of some of its principles within ourselves and the reliance of social organization on philosophical principles. Still, for most of us, philosophical propositions remain unknown, distant, or disconnected. We may want to know whether someone has developed a comprehensive concept that can make our life better.

 

What we are looking for may hide beyond questions of means. We may want to know how we can find more satisfaction with them. There is good reason to believe that philosophy should give us at least some of the guidance we seek. Its Greek name that translates as love of knowledge implies an inquisitive mind that tries to understand its surroundings and itself. The implication is that once we know about phenomena and how they work, we can put these insights to use. We may say that philosophy is in part an abstract science because it tries to derive mental representations of objects and events and attempts to describe and categorize them and their relationships. But we can also claim this abstraction as a necessary precursor for our ability to competently influence our environment. When we look at how philosophy developed, we can detect such a practical effect if not intent of philosophy. Originally, philosophy covered all ranges of science. The relative lack of knowledge of humanity prompted philosophy to inquire into all directions where knowledge could be located. As knowledge grew, the amount and complexity of knowledge and its practice in particular areas as well as the requirements for further exploration in these areas led to the specialization of knowledge into segments. Thus, the original pursuit of acquiring knowledge separated into sciences that were largely autonomous in their subsequent inquiries and resulting knowledge. They were only bound together by their shared boundaries and a common basic method. As areas of exact science were carved out of the body of philosophy, it increasingly resembled an emptying husk, whose developments of knowledge have fruited and fallen out, germinated, and begun growing on their own. Even the foundations of science became self-contained. Philosophy became increasingly restricted as a backward-oriented science that reviews, compares, and classifies its own development. However, it has preserved authority in trying to explain the shrinking array of matters that have not yet become accessible to proof. In that area, it retains the nature of an exploratory science according to procedures that take account of proven facts, disclose unproven assumptions, and develop conclusions in their interrelation according to accepted standards of argument. Only, the subject matters it is left to address frequently exhibit such an undefined complexity in their elements and correlations that speculation may build upon speculation. The resulting theoretical proof might require practical application to confirm the correctness of its speculative conclusions. Philosophy has then retained some practical scientific aspects.

 

That remaining function to discover subjects for practical confirmation through speculation seems to be curtailed in areas that adjoin practical sciences because these may undertake their own speculations. Although these dispersed speculations may consist of smaller steps, have a smaller scope, and insist on more immediate proof, their development may catch up with philosophical constructs. Where that is not the case, philosophical research appears to contribute to its replacement by exact sciences by pioneering and confirming through its conceptual results worthwhile directions for more practical investigations. As speculative concepts that still remain contained in philosophy become accessible to proof, they either form their own sciences or become integrated into an existing exact science. With the progress of practical sciences and speculative philosophy, speculative philosophy is relegated to ever smaller areas that eventually will completely give way to exact knowledge. Hence, the mission of philosophy to find out what there is to know seems to be programmed to expire as a result of its success. As the mother of all sciences, it is set to retire and live in its memories of its productive years. Until that time, speculative philosophy may help to define areas that remain to be explored and provide an initial framework of possible explanations that motivate more exacting research. It can serve as a temporary advisor that preliminarily explores uncharted areas and attempts to give us orientation. While philosophy might remain instrumental to practical sciences and ultimately to human pursuits, its functions seem to be remote at best.

 

However, this contemplation of philosophy is evidently incomplete. It never was only preoccupied with what is but also with what should be. It has never limited itself to explaining the workings of the world and assessing how and with what results they might be applied, only to leave determinations regarding the application of knowledge to us. It has always concerned itself with what we should do with our knowledge once we have developed it. As we acquire knowledge and through knowledge achieve command of other resources, we are confronted with choices that exceed and distance themselves from the automatic instructions of our instincts. Our rising powers make our wisdom in using them increasingly important. Philosophy can help us in that determination. It may keep an overview over all specialized sciences and incorporate their insights into a comprehensive system that avails us of the ability to apply them for optimal benefit. That service is needed because the specialized sciences and their coordination can only assist us to find out how something functions and how to achieve something. They can describe to us the consequences of acts or omissions. But they cannot instruct us why we should or should not apply what they make possible beyond considerations of technical effectiveness or efficiency within their subject. Questions about purpose and instructions that flow from its designation form a second, higher level of our love of knowledge. It is the task of philosophy in its existential concerns to answer these questions and to prepare those instructions or at least to bestow the development of our own competent conclusions. As the originating point from which humanity ventured out to discover its surroundings and itself, philosophy still presents the focal point of human concern. All our technical knowledge and our capacity converge on it to determine what we should undertake with them and ourselves. The only adjustment in a continuation of this function will be that the speculative nature of its considerations will be progressively substituted by scientific optimization. That result develops from the practical confirmation of its speculative premises and deductions. This time, however, the comprehensive ambition of the philosophical foray suggests that philosophy is to maintain the administration of the subject matter even after its speculative explanation has been confirmed. That is because the comprehensive scope of its purview fundamentally differs from the specificity of the sciences that previously departed.

 

Our acceptance of a philosophical leadership in existential concerns is ultimately determined by our identification of what we want in a philosophy. To be legitimate to us, an existential philosophy, even after its speculation is factualized, would have to reliably designate or assist us in designating what we want. Our mind judges all knowledge it acquires and applies all science under the criterion of whether they assist our wishes and, if it is wise, the entirety of our needs. Existential philosophy may help us to recognize our needs and understand how they can correlate for an overall maximized level of fulfillment. Existential philosophy then seems to be a science to find out what pleases us and how to maximize our pleasure. The inquiry by philosophy into the nature of our world and the particularized sciences that developed from that inquiry seem to constitute subordinated efforts to obtain instruments for achieving this ultimate objective of happiness.

 

Considering the apparent significance of existential philosophy, it is difficult to explain why we do not avail ourselves more of its suggestions. One reason seems to be that there are many existential philosophies that remain unreconciled with one another. Another reason might be that existential philosophies resort to speculative constructs to fill gaps in matters of knowledge until these aspects have developed into a science that can successfully comply with demands for practical proof. The presence of speculative concepts creates a dangerous opening for risk and damage in our optimization efforts. That is particularly so if speculation leaves scientific methods behind and takes flights of imagination with diminished care in defining premises or disclosing its speculative character and methods of developing conclusions. The conclusory nature of a nonscientific speculative philosophy decreases our opportunities to evaluate its presentations and may cause us to rely on superficial concordances in its premises, arguments, and conclusions with what we suppose or want to be true and want to attain. The paucity of its scientific clarity may combine with our lack of ability to investigate its claims. But we may also condition ourselves to avert our mind from what we could find and understand. We may want to believe that speculative concepts are correct. This may have us rely even more on superficial concordances. They might even be embedded to sway us in favor of a philosophy that we might otherwise not adopt.

 

Mistakes in nonscientific speculative philosophies should reveal themselves during and after their implementation. Only, this type of proof can subject us to great risks of damage. Even after we incur such damage, the factually untethered nature of a nonscientific speculative philosophy may forestall us from determining the true causes for our failure. To avoid such consequences, an existential philosophy has to adhere to a scientific method of speculation that reveals its premises, allows us to follow their application, and limits its claims to what the argument allows it to conclude. But we may not take it upon us to review and to differentiate accordingly and may mistrust all speculative philosophies, particularly after being apprised of warning examples.

 

Perhaps most of all, we may resist considering speculative philosophies because we have already been taken in by a speculative philosophy that precludes us from considering other speculative philosophies even if they are scientifically legitimate. Notwithstanding, unless we are completely satisfied with the guidance such a philosophy gives us, it appears useful to review legitimate alternatives. Our considerations might be rewarded by establishing a better approach toward the pursuit of some or all our needs, if it is only by helping us define our own premises and philosophy in differentiation from what we review. To facilitate such considerations, scientific philosophies have to make themselves available. This requires that they avail individuals of technical access to them. Only, that may not suffice because many philosophies are restrictive in the substantive access they permit. For one, they are often difficult to understand. That may have various reasons. Some of them were recorded or have reached us only in fragments. Issues of language, style, and organization might pose a problem. Translations may be imprecise. Archaic terminology may make writings difficult to understand. Authors may have had problems in clearly expressing themselves. They may not have been aware or may not have cared that they left important presumptions and parts of their arguments unexpressed or poorly described. Writings might build on their authors’ interpretations of other philosophies that are not explained in sufficient detail. They might use arcane language that their authors or other philosophers coined. They may give new specialized meaning to commonly used words. These problems make it frequently difficult if not impossible to find clear meaning in the statements of a philosophy or to compare or correlate the substances of philosophies. They often prevent or limit direct access by those who could benefit from it.

 

These problems require that persons with studied knowledge of these philosophies become intermediaries. The at times considerable communicative shortcomings of philosophies may also pose a significant burden on the resources of academic philosophers who might try to become such intermediaries. Many of their activities may be preoccupied with deciphering, translating, explaining, and speculating what original philosophers have expressed and in the discussion of their insights with other researchers of these philosophies. It might appear to be a relatively minor stride to make that work accessible to a broader audience. Yet, often, researchers become so enveloped in the universe of a philosophy they are reviewing that they succumb to many of the original or grown communicative shortcomings of that philosophy. In an effort to obtain intimate understanding of an original philosopher’s mindset, they may assume that philosopher’s terminology to elucidate that mindset. For this reason, it may be difficult among specialists in different philosophies to truly understand one another. That may not only be so because each philosophy might use unfamiliar terminology but also because each philosophy may attribute partly different meaning to common language. While experts may enable competent comparisons by gaining proficiency in multiple philosophies, that does not significantly assist the dissemination of a philosophy if their explanations continue within the particularities of one philosophy. This does not change much if they create translation mechanisms between philosophies. To make veiled philosophies more accessible, they will have to be translated into commonly understandable terminology.

 

The absorption and maintenance of the original code of philosophies may be an understandable and partly necessary requirement to become familiar with and understand works that are often extremely challenging and to succeed in not falsifying their meaning. Translating a philosophy carries a high risk of misinterpretation. However, experts who comprehend its meaning should be able to express it in commonly understandable terminology. Such a popularized expression should also be in the interest of such experts because remaining within expert jargon may prevent a philosophy from making its case and conferring the benefits it promises. It sentences an existential philosophy and its endorsers to a speculative state and its potential beneficiaries to a relatively unhappy existence. Having dedicated their life’s work to an existential philosophy, specialists in it should believe that it has much to give and they should be uniquely motivated to popularize its content. That an existential philosophy has not been popularized may indicate that its experts may not have an interest to disseminate its message.

 

One reason popularization is not undertaken might be that experts wish to reserve the philosophy with which they are occupied to elites and desire to forestall broader access. They might form part of a power structure that attempts to subject other parts of a society to the rule of the initiated. Another reason experts might not desire to popularize a philosophy might be that it represents an agenda that might not be accepted if it is fully revealed. The resulting veiled indoctrination may be broadly employed or focus on subjects who go on to positions in which it can operate in favor of objectives that originators and expert promulgators want to have promoted and prevail. Even if they are not aware of bias in their positions and regard them as scientifically justifiable and able to withstand critical scrutiny, they may fear additional adversity. They may be concerned that representatives of other philosophies or attitudes they deem erroneous might attack them, their philosophy, and its followers if the philosophy gains attention.

 

Another motive for not popularizing an existential philosophy might be that experts are prohibited from doing so. However, their reluctance appears to continue in societies that do not encumber their freedom. In such settings, experts might occupy themselves with such philosophies for reasons other than their confidence that these could benefit humanity or even a segment of humanity. They may keep existential philosophies alive in their minds because of considerations related to the teaching of philosophy and its institutions. Academic institutions may be charged or permitted to keep an extensive scope of speculative philosophies alive. Their commissioned inclusiveness may be sourced in the ignorance of sponsors regarding the merit of philosophies or the reluctance of these to become involved in deciding such matters. Nor may those administrating philosophical schools want to interdict the teaching of any accredited philosophy. A selective curriculum may be viewed as an affront to freedom. It may be regarded as an overt act to suppress an undesirable philosophy or as an opening to future unwarranted discrimination. New philosophies are more likely to be excluded. Academic institutions may require that they establish themselves in certain ways before they are given a place in an institution’s curriculum. Yet, once philosophies are academically established, they may be very difficult to remove. They may assume an encapsulated status that may neither pursue nor tolerate their improvement. Academic treatments may focus on interpretations of the original works.

 

There may be valid reasons to maintain a broad offering of existential philosophies in their original substance. One may be the establishment of foundations on which later philosophies build without repeating these. Another may be that philosophies define themselves by differentiations from other philosophies and can be better perceived if these are understood. A further reason would be lacking development or verification of their substance. Beyond this, there may be interest in establishing and keeping a historical record of how existential philosophy has developed. Keeping a wide range of speculative philosophies present may further be a matter of academic stature and tradition.

 

Experts may also be interested in a broad, stable curriculum for reasons of their employment. Since teaching institutions are the sole employers for professional philosophers, it is in their interest to maximize the positions that can be justified in such institutions. That justification is easiest if a broad range of speculative philosophies can be maintained and if their speculative nature is not resolved. Expertise in any acknowledged philosophy might secure a desirable academic position regardless of such a philosophy’s relevance. Once their position is dependent on the philosophy they teach, they might be disinclined to concede its irrelevance or failings. Nor might they be disposed to facilitate ready access to the philosophies they oversee for concern that an understanding of them by others might invite assertions of irrelevance or failings. But even if reasons to make such assertions are known, colleagues might be reluctant to attack the relevance of philosophies colleagues administrate. They might have concerns about becoming subjects of such attacks as well or exciting a greater discussion about the funding or justifiability of philosophical institutions or their positions, compensation, and other benefits. Philosophical experts may then habitually skirt issues of practical relevance for economic reasons.

 

However, if existential philosophies are to have any purpose in accordance with their claim of existential importance, their mere academic preservation is insufficient. Any philosophy that purports to offer guidance in existential matters must present itself in ways that allow such guidance to be understood, considered, accepted, practiced, dismissed, or improved by intended beneficiaries. Hence, experts that take the philosophy they represent seriously must render that philosophy accessible. There might be obstacles that an offering cannot control. Individuals might be biased by philosophies already residing in or influencing their mind against considering other existential philosophies. But even if this makes it harder to gain consideration, this must not keep an existential philosophy from making its teachings available if it is to possess any chance of realization. Yet there may be another, more justified and resolvable issue that might foreclose consideration by designated beneficiaries. They may be unwilling to entrust their life to a philosophy that represents one viewpoint among others that are presented by competing philosophies. Even if specialists could render their philosophies generally comprehensible, nonexperts might not be able or prepared to commit the time and effort to immerse themselves in a diversity of speculative philosophies. They might demand that experts examine one another’s philosophies, discuss their validities and shortcomings, and present their findings in ways that comply with the same communicative standards as their initial presentations. That appears to be an appropriate demand because professional philosophers are trained to review and critique the logical structure and substance of arguments and can consecrate more time to such efforts. Their assessment of one another’s philosophies may add a clarifying pointedness to such an undertaking. Nonexperts may further demand that experts in these philosophies undertake reconciliation work before they submit them for practical implementation. That seems to be a legitimate requirement because the reconciliation of philosophies promises to be difficult and time-consuming even if these were to be translated into the same terminology and comparative opinions were presented. Reconciliation may necessitate a partial or total abandonment or adjustment of philosophies. In addition, the involved considerations may give rise to important new developments. Experts appear to be in the best position to render such decisions and their determinations could be presumed to be reliable because their consent after initially divergent positions is likely to reflect a fully considered change. If speculative aspects of existential philosophies do not allow present clarification into one construct, experts would be uniquely qualified to lay out the alternatives of scientifically legitimate speculation and to describe the scope and consequences of this multiplicity of models. They might also give advice on how speculative concepts might be practically confirmed and thus advance existential philosophy. They would be dutybound to attend the development of existential philosophy until one comprehensive solution to common and general matters of our needs is derived. The application of scientific principles to interchangeable human characteristics has the logical result that proof will successively and ultimately entirely reduce our search to one result. It generally portends that the speculative aspects of existential philosophy will ultimately transform into an exact science of human happiness.

 

Experts in existential philosophies may hence provide a critically useful service to humanity. Their assumption of responsibility may even be essential for individual and collective survival. Our development and ascent in power may not leave us much room for experiments and injudicious choices in addressing existential problems. Even if philosophical guidance should not be a matter of life or death, any lack of guidance may unnecessarily cause large numbers of humans to be afflicted with pain and restrict their thriving. Unless philosophers admit that their work is pointless, they must claim that they may be in possession of at least a partial recipe for an antidote to human distress. Their failure to perfect it and make it available may strike us as cruel and irresponsible. Experts in existential philosophies may not be comfortable with their responsibility. Fulfilling their vanguard function may demand a drastic change in their outlook and practice. They must overcome the divisions of their particular orientations. They may have to supersede reverence for particular philosophers or their philosophies with a general commitment to existential philosophy. They have to emerge from academic seclusion and place their activities in the center of public interest. Moreover, the exercise of their responsibility may be burdened with danger and personal sacrifice because the assumption by philosophy of its rightful leadership in human development may meet with resistance. Such a resistance may be caused by fear of transformation even if current circumstances leave room for improvement. It may also be attributable to interests that benefit from an antecedent state of confusion or the relative order they manage to maintain. Both the fear of losing ground and the fear of losing overproportional benefits may motivate countermeasures against active scientific philosophical practice, its originators, and its promoters. These measures may entail the necessity to respond defensively. Additionally, nonscientific philosophies may pose independent threats of irretrievable damage that may suggest defensive measures against them. Philosophers may thus become involved as leaders in human affairs. Although scientific existential philosophies have already participated and made progress in shaping human pursuits, they have often suffered perversion and suppression at the hands of unscientific philosophies or due to the pressures of attacking and defending against them. Where scientific philosophies were successful in motivating individuals to shape their life according to them, their inherent errors or lack of development as well as incomplete or erroneous acceptance or implementation may have added obstacles. These problems frequently left them discredited and their supporters desolate. Many humans have therefore come to distrust schemes purportedly aimed at improving their happiness.

 

There may then be daunting problems that philosophy has to overcome if it is to fulfill its mission. But who else could competently undertake this mission? History instructs us that a void of competent philosophical leadership will be rapidly occupied by nonscientific impostors to whom humanity will look for guidance in its confusion and pain. Regardless of whether their guidance is well-meant or offered for nefarious purposes, following them may cause avoidable detrimental consequences. Although scientifically based philosophical movements may derail and falter from their own deficiencies, there does not seem to be any alternative to scientific progression. The development of a unified scientific existential philosophy requires that professional philosophers establish it and see it through to a stable existence. Without their initiative, hope wanes that humanity can advance and realize its potential. The preservation of philosophies by academic institutions reveals itself as an invaluable foundation for this reorientation. They have been able to enshrine sources of enlightenment similar to some monasteries, schools, and libraries that were their keepers before, despite a world governed by unprincipled behavior, nonscientific, superstitious philosophies, or misguided scientific philosophies. Most technical aspects of philosophy have succeeded in freeing themselves from the paralyzing grip of nonscientific powers. These powers have largely receded and transformed to exclude technical sciences. Yet, in many respects, they have continued their domination over the application of technical sciences and human life beyond them. To complete its mission of illuminating the world, philosophy must complement the establishment of a first level of scientific technical knowledge with the institution of a second scientific level of knowledge about purpose.

 © 2013-2017 BY MARTIN JANELLO