Russell: filosofi er en eksistensiell oppgave

Den britiske analytiske filosofen Bertrand Russell var opptatt av matematikk og logikk og er en av de viktigste pådriverne i utviklingen som har ført til dagens filosofi; en scientistisk, analytisk og i det hele tatt ganske livsfjern akademisk aktivitet.

Men Russell var like opptatt av at filosofi skulle ha et eksistensielt tilsnitt; at filosofi er en eksistensiell oppgave:

Russell revives an ancient conception of philosophy as a way of life in insisting that questions of cosmic meaning and value have an existential, ethical and spiritual urgency. (…)

Socrates argues in the Republic that the philosopher’s pursuit of truth involves reorienting his whole soul towards the good, as well as theoretical clarification of what the soul is and what its good consists in. Aristotle developed this idea through his virtue ethics, which shows how our characters can be formed, in practice, in accordance with what is good for us – our happiness and fulfilment as human beings. Russell stands in this tradition, arguing that «if philosophy is to play a serious part in the lives of men who are not specialists, it must not cease to advocate some way of life». (…)

In his 1946 essay [Philosophy for Laymen], Russell teaches his «laymen» readers to think more objectively about emotive issues: «When, in a sentence expressing political opinion, there are words that arouse powerful but different emotions in different readers, try replacing them by symbols, A, B, C, and so on and forgetting the particular significance of the symbols. Suppose A is England, B is Germany and C is Russia. So long as you remember what the letters mean, most of the things you will believe will depend upon whether you are English, German or Russian, which is logically irrelevant.»

Of course, it is easier to master this kind of technique than to apply it in situations when it is most needed – at times of crisis, stress, or emotional turbulence. But this is precisely why philosophy is not just an intellectual exercise, but an existential task that – as Aristotle saw so clearly – requires patient practice.

Ene og alene kopiert fra, som er del 7 av en serie om den fantastiske filosofen og fredsmannen Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970).

Bertrand Russell

Hele Philosophy for Laymen her.


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