As a self-reflective discipline philosophy questions its own nature, its end, its method, the conditions of its possibility, and its historical prospect. Major philosophers have addressed and taken positions on these issues. But because some of their views are irreconcilable one who surveys the history of the discipline cannot but seriously doubt its continued identity.
Diverse views of philosophy can be contrasted over the issues about its end. Philosophical activity can come to an end if all persons able to philosophize become extinct, or if philosophy becomes obsolete under the deadening influence of utilitarian culture or as a result of its successful suppression by authoritarian forces fearing its emancipatory function. Philosophy can be said to come to an end in a deeper sense that its end has been achieved with the completion of a final system of philosophical knowledge. The attainment of philosophy’s end can be thought, as in Hegel, to be the end of history as well. Or philosophy can be said to have come to an end in the sense that an emerging consensus that the conditions of the possibility of philosophy cannot be satisfied has deprived philosophy of its rationale.
The claim that a final system of philosophical knowledge has been built carries an implicit or explicit historical prediction that no significant changes will subsequently occur. Such a prediction contradicts the historically confirmed view that all theories including philosophy are subject to processing by future generations. The epistemological absolutes that ground a verdict of the impossibility of philosophy either presuppose beliefs that fail them or dogmatically assume their own validity. The logic of a critique of the end-of-philosophy controversy leads it to acknowledge a deeper issue of the nature of the discourse that comprehends the controversy and makes it possible. The discourse tempts and resists philosophical theorizing.
|Keywords:||End of Philosophy, End of History, Possibility of Philosophy, Presuppositions of Philosophy|
Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Shaker Heights, Ohio, USA
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