ABSTRACT

At the start of this book, I raised the question of the nature of philosophy, and concluded that it was both a specific methodological approach to learning and an area of study which strictly belonged nowhere else in the educational curriculum. Both of these features link up with the Greek origin of the word, since both involve a pursuit of wisdom. The meaning, here, of ‘wisdom’ is quite simple. On the one hand, it is taking a generally closer look at the use and meaning of words and sentences than is required – or normally happens – in everyday communication, whether between individuals or through the media. On the other hand, philosophy, when examining certain subject areas such as metaphysics or ethics, takes a longer view, a broader perspective, than may be looked for in most other fields of debate. It is possible to be an intolerant philosopher, but this attitude of mind hardly fits the subject since intolerance springs from a background of prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance. The most insufferable people in the universe are those who know nothing but express their views as though they know it all: if such views have occasionally been punctured in this book, I make no apology: millions of people throughout the world are living deprived, hopeless, shattered lives because of others’ ignorance and prejudice, and if the philosopher will not expose these twin menaces to human happiness, it is difficult to know where else to turn.