What does philosophy do?
I claim that the task of philosophy is to look inward to find the basis for the presuppositions that form the foundation for all human created theories. I claim that in our first effort to look inward primitive humans saw thier mortality; they hated what they saw and immediately sought a means to successfully repress that thought. That solution turns out to be what we today call religion.
Long ago a professor of philosophy said to me, after my asking him what philosophy is all about, “philosophy is a radically critical self-consciousness”. It took me 30 years to comprehend what he said.
“But I'm a philosopher, and it's a philosopher's job to tell people how they should lead their lives.” Thus wrote Linda Hirshman in an article in the Washington Post. Linda R. Hirshman, is a retired professor of philosophy and women's studies at Brandeis University.
Unleashing the Wrath of Stay-at-Home Moms - washingtonpost.com
If I had read in the morning paper some doctor saying “it is the doctor’s job to tell people how they should lead their lives.” I would not have blinked. I have no problem with a doctor making such a statement but a philosopher making such a statement certainly will cause a pause.
A retired professor of philosophy from Brandeis University cares weight with me and when such a person says something startling I must give it some heed; I must pause to reflect and study the meaning of that statement.
Reflection on this statement reveals to me that human life is really a philosophical endeavor. We do not realize it but every thought we have, every decision we make, and every action we take are based upon some philosophical assumptions. Philosophers have molded these assumptions into theories that now form the very essence of our life.
We ‘know’ what is real, what is knowledge, what is moral action, how the mind works, etc. because these philosophical theories permeate every aspect of our life. Metaphysics is a philosophy word that really means ‘what is real, what is time, what is essence, what is causation, etc’.
I guess I will give the professor an “A” here. It is a philosopher’s job to tell people how they should lead their lives.