The necessity of philosophy


Aristotle, it seems, in his (now lost) Protrepticus, or Exhortation to Philosophy, presented the following argument in favour of the necessity of philosophy, much quoted in later times (Fr. 6 Rose): 'If one argues that one should not practise philosophy, one must thereby practise philosophy; and if one argues in favour of philosophy, one must also philosophise; so, in either case, one must philosophise.' This well-turned conceit retains its validity, I think, even to the present day. I choose it to open what is intended as a rather general and informal defence of philosophy, and of the course of my life in recent years. There were those in Plato's day, and in Aristotle's day, who believed strongly that philosophy was rubbish, and that philosophers were generally up to no good, and such opinions are still held today - not least, I suspect, among politicians and university adminstrators! So defence, and explanation, continues to be necessary.


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