The Daily Logos XX
“He who reflects as a philosopher, that is, under every possible aspect, on realities such as guilt, freedom, or death; or he who considers the fundamental question as to the structure of being (‘What does it mean for something to be real?’), will certainly experience a progressively more profound insight into all that is, in the same measure as his cognitive analysis penetrates every deeper, and as his mind opens up ever more in dispassionate and receptive readiness. More profound insight, of course, is the philosopher’s aim. Still, properly speaking, we cannot maintain that the philosopher, through this approach, would discover things totally unknown thus far, totally unthought thus far, things altogether new and original.”
-Josef Pieper, In Defense of Philosophy
In this passage, Pieper goes on to assert an anamnetical principle, that whatever is discovered through philosophy, and indeed, through anything, is something of a remembrance, the discovery of what what had already been discovered; a re-discovery. The technical aspects of this claim are not, for the intention of this post, terribly important. What is important, however, is to see where Piepr actually goes wrong, as near as he is to the mark: certainly, the individual, natural sciences make the discoveries upon which philosophy reflects and ponders; but the impetus to the endeavors of these natural sciences is itself a manifestation of man’s innate philosophical quest. The two activities are distinct by convention, but not by nature. Every man is born to be a philosopher, and every philosopher is born to know.