Relation between science and philosophy

Seb asked:

Is philosophy required to be based upon scientific knowledge, at least partially?

Answer by Danny Krämer

This is a question that concerns the purpose of Philosophy. Since Descartes and especially Kant a lot of philosophers thought that the job of philosophy is to provide a priori knowledge that no science could achieve. Especially knowledge of the mind was thought as a priori and so as a field where many thought that philosophy could deliver new answers. But at least since Quine, many philosophers are naturalists. Quine for example believed, that what was called philosophy is just a branch of psychology and philosophy has no special a priori knowledge about anything. Some naturalists think that philosophy is a mistaken undertaking and should be abandoned. All we can know about the wide world we know by science.

This is an answer that you can expect from someone who thinks that philosophy is the search for the fundamental structure of the world or special domains by a priori methods. I am a naturalist too but I don’t believe that philosophy is a failure. I think the most important task for philosophy is to help us to understand how the things of the world hang together and how we fit into this world. The sciences tell us what things exist and how they work. So to understand how we fit into this world and how our theories of the world can be brought into a consistent view philosophy must be informed by science. One of the most important tasks is to tell us how our, like Wilfried Sellars would say,scientific image of the world — that means the world of quarks and DNA and so on — and our manifest image of the world — the worlds of tables, values, artworks etc. — hang together.


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