[FOM] principal aim of philosophy

Harvey Friedman friedman at math.ohio-state.edu
Mon May 5 22:02:06 EDT 2008

I offer a related thesis concerning Philosophy.

THESIS. The principal aim of Philosophy is the creation of new  
powerful and productive intellectual structures. The principal  
technique is that of reflective and responsive rigorous systemization.


A vast majority of novel intellectual structures are neither powerful  
nor productive. Speaking for myself, in a given philosophical context,  
I search for relevant intellectual structures - and in so doing, throw  
away perhaps hundreds of variants for every one that I put forward.

What am I looking for with these candidate intellectual structures?

I am looking for a rigorous finding (or plausible rigorous conjecture)  
that impacts the underlying philosophical context.

In general, this is a very strong requirement on an intellectual  
structure, and so I must "scan" hundreds, looking for the right kind  
of rigorous result. This kind of activity does require technical  
experience and power.

Note that the principal aim of Philosophy is not being realized by  
scientists, generally, as they are not generally sensitive to  
philosophical contexts. MAJOR EXCEPTIONS: Einstein, Goedel.

Also note that the principal aim of Philosophy is not being realized  
by philosophers, generally, as they do not generally have the required  
technical experience and power. MAJOR EXCEPTIONS?

So, from a practical point of view, how should the intellectual  
community proceed with regard to the principal aim of Philosophy?

Harvey Friedman

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