Philosophy, Humanity’s Best Attempt at Truth
Philosophy is humanity’s best attempt at truth. The word philosophy means a love of wisdom. But the sort of wisdom philosophy takes seriously is built from the bottom up. It starts and ends with human reflection and projection.
Don’t get me wrong. I love philosophy. If you took a peak at my personal library you’d see a good third, if not more, are books by philosophers or about philosophy. For me, philosophy is a great place to look for all the ways we can get things wrong and all the limits to our search for the good life.
Chris Daly, a British philosopher, makes a similar point in his recent article in Aeon Magazine by the title “Philosophy’s Lack of Progress.” He outlines the big questions that have plagued human minds throughout history simply to show a lack of consensus and breakthrough:
“Philosophy seems to be on a hiding to nothing. It has a 2,500-year history in the West and an extensive back-catalogue – of problems. There are questions about what exists, and what we know about it, such as: Do we have free will? Is there an external world? Does God exist? and so on. There are also questions of analysis and definition such as: What makes a sentence true? What makes an act just? What is causation? What is a person? This is a tiny sample. For almost any abstract notion, some philosopher has wondered what it really is. . . .Yet, despite this wealth of questions and the centuries spent tackling them, philosophers haven’t successfully provided any answers.”
While I love philosophy and benefit so much from it, I don’t think it will make much progress. I agree with Chris on philosophy’s problem. I think the solution is found by starting in the other direction.
If there are answers to the big questions of life, I don’t think we will find them from the bottom up. The history of philosophy illustrates that too well. If we want to understand purpose, meaning, and identity, we will need to look beyond. We need top down information.
If there is an Author to our story, he alone can unravel the riddle of the human experience. That’s why a revealed religion, a God who is not only knowable and but one who makes himself known, is our only shot. If we are to know God, and ourselves for that matter, God must enter the theater of human history and show us the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That’s our only hope for true progress.
Philosophy can show us our problem. That’s good. Christianity offers us a solution. That’s far better.