First let us ask ourselves what is philosophy? Philosophy is the critical categorisation of all appearance in relation to perception. What do we mean by appearance? It is the representation of the external world relayed through our sense organs. Through the study and categorisation of these phenomena as they appear to our senses we seek to explain the behaviour of objects with immutable laws. These immutable laws are deemed science – the practice of verifying theories through observable and repeatable experimentation. Philosophy is the mechanism through which science expresses itself – what do I mean by that? It is the law to which science itself must conform if it wishes to maintain its validity. Yet, surely if science itself is concerned solely with the proof of theories through observable and repeatable experimentation what else must it answer to?
Theories are proffered by people, people are agents of will and imbue theories with emotions. To quote the German scientist Max Planck, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Yes, science contains bias. But then so does philosophy, one may compare the difference between Plato’s Theory of Forms with Aristotle’s Empiricist Natural Sciences. So what purpose does philosophy serve? Science is critical of phenomena – philosophy is critical of science. Without this criticality it is possible, as history proves, for people to accept incorrect theories as science and, by extension, truth. E.g. the plum-pudding model of the atom or, perhaps more profoundly, the Ptolemaic System. More dangerously, a sect may be led astray by the ‘irrefutability of science’ into committing acts they would not normally commit. We would say at this point that science itself aims to disprove what is false rather than to prove what is true. Further to this, it is philosophy itself which places these theories into a coherent narrative as they relate to the perceiver. If the perceiver does not contain this criticality they too may enter into ridicule and madness. It is this danger which philosophy seeks to guard against for it must even doubt that science itself can explain everything; or whether science is limited by the sensory organs available to the perceiver and the experiences of his interaction with the external world.
So why do I study philosophy? To remain critical. What is the purpose of remaining critical? To live life by the will and not submit to an external authority which seeks to justify itself through mistaken categorisations of external appearance. For liberty’s sake, we must dissent!