Thoughts on Rauhut, Chapter One

Thoughts on Chapter One if Nils Ch. Rauhut's Ultimate Questions.

This is a chapter about human faculties (reason, observation, imagination) and human institutions (mythologies, religions, science, and philosophy). So it is pretty abstract and conceptual.

Professor Rauhut, in order to explain what philosophy is, must make a clear definition, or boundary marker, around mythology, religion, science, and philosophy. His schema seems to be:

Myths are just fantasy.
Religion is myths with revelation claims.
Science is reasoning about empirical data.
Philosophy is reasoning about non empirical matters.

But I am not sure it can be done precisely. For example, both mythology and religion must involve the use of reason. I think what Rauhut means by reason is reason as applied to data from the senses, not that mythology and religion are devoid of reason.

The boundary between philosophy and religion is easy to state: philosophy eschews revelation. Philosophy is skeptical and demands reasons based on empirical data. In this way it is like science and not like religion. So how to separate science and philosophy?

Philosophy, in his telling, deals with fundamental questions that cannot be resolved by empirical means. Philosophy turns out to be high level conceptual analysis. Philosophers help us think about things by making us answer questions about the terms or concepts we are using in our thinking.

Philosophy in this sense is a far cray from a settled "philosophy of life." It is a questioning, approach that goes back to Socrates, as we know. He was executed for it. Philosophy can be dangerous, too, in unsettling our unexamined assumptions about life and truth.

Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744) (he of our pastoral bliss poem) in An Essay on Criticism, 1709: gave excellent advice to those who would climb Mt. Parnassus to drink the inspiring waters:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.