Stewart R Sutherland

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature

By

Blackwell 401pp £12.50 order from our bookshop

A story is told of G. E. Moore, seated in his study, being asked, ‘What is philosophy?’ He replied, after a pause, with a wave of his hand at the bulging shelves, ‘What all these books are about’. Professor Rorty implicitly asks ‘What is philosophy?’ but explicitly, with a wave of his pen at many of the established classics of Western philosophy from Descartes onwards, tells us that philosophy is not what all these books are about. I think that he might be persuaded to admit that philosophy was what Descartes’s Meditations, Locke’s Essay, Kant’s Critiques, Russell’s Our Knowledge of the External World, were about, although he might regard such a remark as misleading, and he would want to argue that this was an unfortunate state of affairs.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,