Om förhållandet mellan den historiska och den filosofiska frågan ”Vad är filosofi?”

  • Sören Stenlund Uppsala universitet


Philosophers have often expressed dissatisfaction with the philosophy offered to them by their predecessors, and have spoken of the need for a new beginning. The philosopher finds himself doubting, not merely particular details in the way of thinking that one is expected to adopt and accept, but the manner of thinking as a whole, as if it were necessary to rethink every step from the ground up. It has been said that philosophy must perpetually begin from the beginning. The question "What is the nature of philosophy?" is one of the recurrent themes in the history of philosophy. Practically all philosophical works considered to be classics have something to say about that question, and not merely in the form of programmatic opening lines: the question is often an essential element of the message as a whole, in that it is answered throughout the text, even when it is not explicitly formulated.

This essay considers a number of reasons why there is something special about the philosophical enterprise in this regard, having to do with how the question "What is the nature of philosophy?" can be understood. It is suggested that the question can be understood not only as an historical question, but also as a question concerning the nature of philosophy, that is, it can be understood as a philosophical question.