“Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”
Why should anyone study during a time of war? That was the question C.S. Lewis was answering in 1939 when he delivered the previous quote in a church in Oxford, England. Whether at war or at peace, there are some things that cannot be ignored. Error is one of them.
As atheist author Daniel Dennet well stated, “There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.” While other atheists like Stephen Hawking claim that “philosophy is dead,” Dennett surely recognizes that that too is a philosophical statement. Philosophy is important because poorly founded propositions are pervasive.
Philosophy plays a crucial role in assessing the validity of a complex truth claim. That is why I’m so thankful for John Lennox in his role as a Professor of Philosophy of Science at Oxford University (in addition to many other roles included Professor of Mathematics). Assessing the assumptions inherent within one’s approach to science is as important as science itself. As Dennett stated earlier, we must not take our unevaluated baggage on board. Philosophy helps us to know how to pack.
Error is a problem, particularly when it is a fundamental error. I could be wrong about the temperature in Chicago when I pack for my weekend trip to visit the Windy City, but that is far different than getting on a plane that is headed for Orlando. One error will lead me to Michigan Avenue in search of a new jacket, the other will leave me stranded. Philosophy helps to point us in the right direction.
Why does philosophy matter? Because error exists. And because bad philosophy needs to be answered.
To be continued.