Philosophy! What it is?

Philosophy according to Aristotle begins with wonder. “At one time, or another, almost everyone has experienced a certain impulse. Typically, it comes as a feeling, wonderment or an unsettling. We often ask ourselves, some vague or suggestive questions such as; Do space and time go on forever? What if there is not any God? Am I genuinely free? Is there anything ever really right or wrong? Are there any absolute truths? Is there really such a thing as good arts? And of course what is the meaning of life? This impulse is precisely and impulse to philosophical activity. (Jay, 1978: 4, 5)

Philosophy begins in wonder, Aristotle said but this wonder at the complex world in which people find themselves, is the wellspring from which philosophical inquiry flow. (Ibid: 9)

Kant divide Philosophy into two distinct sense, the academic and the practical sense. In Kantian language it is divides into the scholastic sense and the cosmopolitan sense.

Kant says philosophy in the Scholastic sense (in sensu scholastico) is thus the system of the philosophical rational cognitions from concepts but in the cosmopolitan sense (in sensu cosmopolitico) it is the science of the ultimate end of human reason.

Philosophy in the scholastic sense concerns only skill, but in the cosmopolitan senses usefulness. Philosophy in the first sense is thus the doctrine of skill but in the other of wisdom. Thus it is the law giver of reason. But the philosopher must be distinguished from the artist of reason.

The latter points out rules for the use of our reason for discretionary ends, he aims at merely speculative knowledge, without seeing how much it contributes to the ultimate end of reason.

The practical philosopher is the genuine philosopher – philosophy is the idea of a a perfect wisdom, which shows the ultimate ends of human reason. (KANT, 1977)

The study of the history of Philosophy is very important in our understanding of Philosophy. To Philosophize we.kust have an in-depth knowledge of what other Philosophers think about the fundamental issues in Philosophy. In our study of Philosophy, we must take into consideration the history of thoughts because it provide us with an understanding of the concepts and issues in Philosophy.

Going through the academia to study Philosophy as enrich my understanding of Philosophy. They provide us with systematic study of the history of philosophy. We cannot understand philosophy if we do not understand the history of philosophy. We must grasp the history of philosophy from the ancient period to the modern period and from modern period to our contemporary time.

We must also take into consideration that we must also practice Philosophy which mean to Philosophize.
The major part of the ongoing business of practicing philosopher consists in the critical evaluation of positions and arguments advanced by other philosophers.(Jay: 1978, 10).

We must note that the history of philosophy plays a crucial methodology role in the practice of philosophy. It does not enter as an object of philosophical inquiry, but as the medium of that inquiry. It provides philosophers with common expository idioms, a shared vocabulary of concept and a set of paradigms of philosophical reasoning, which can serve as shared starting points for contemporary re explorations of central philosophical concerns. It is a rich stock of views and supporting considerations to be shifted and resifted, assessed and reassessed, and by the very best of practicing philosophers – occasionally added to. (Jay: 1978, 11)

The historical concern of practicing philosophers then will not end with an understanding of what their predecessors believed. It is with the reasoning of their predecessors and not with their motivations that philosophers in practice concern themselves. Philosophical progress, at least in its critical dimension, is thus neither a matter of new facts and forecasts nor one of bread or bombs or bridges, it consists in such subtler business as refining a problem, attaining greater argumentative rigor, grasping connections, noting presuppositions, or seeing the point of a remark. (Ibid: 11, 12)

So in conclusion Philosophy can be understood as the love of wisdom which finds joy in understanding. It is the rational attempt to think through life problem without fear and to find rational justification and meaning to the puzzle question of our human existence that touch the very core of our being.

In the word of Karl Jasper, to live a philosophical life means to take seriously our experience of man, of happiness and hurt, of success and failure, of the obscure and the confused. It means not to forget but to possess ourselves inwardly of our experience, not to let ourselves be distracted but to think problems through, not to take things for granted but to elucidate them. (Jasper).


Jay. F. Rosenburg (1978): The Practice of Philosophy, Practice – Hall Inc.
Karl Jasper, Way to Wisdom- An introduction to Philosophy. Yale University Press UK
Kant Immanuel, Lecture on metaphysics, Cambridge University press, (1977) USA

Tosin Olufeyimi is a Philosophy graduate, an independent scholar with special interest in German Idealism, existentism and Philosophy of religion. He Philosophize about many fundamental issues in Philosophy.