Friday, January 27, 2012

The Carpenter and Philosophy

Here is a quote that does a good job of explaining how philosophy and higher principles are very practical and worth studying. It is from a lecture by R. L. Dabney titled, "Commendation of the Study of Philosophy" (1885):
"It may be well just here to illustrate farther the fact that every man philosophizes, 'will he, nill he,' if he thinks. Here is a plain carpenter, who on Monday takes up the hatchet he had sharpened and used Saturday. It proved itself of good steel, temper and edge, then. Will it cut well this morning? Assuredly it will, says the honest man. But may it not have changed its nature since Saturday, although not meddled with in any way? Is it obliged to be steel now, because it was steel then; may it not now be of soft iron? or lead? 'No!' he exclaims. 'That’s absurd!' But why absurd, Mr. Carpenter? Perhaps he had not thought it out in full form; but now that you press him to do so, he tells you: no change could have been made in the metal without some cause; and that 'he knows by looking at it,' i. e., by its sensible properties, that it is still steel. That is all very plain and simple; but this carpenter has now posited three of the most profound general truths of abstract philosophy: The necessary law of causation; the continuity and permanency of substantive being; and the inseparable union of attributes to their substance. He has been dealing in the depths of ontology! Quite a philosopher he!”
We do things for reasons, whether we think them through or not. As a side note you can se here the original form of the term 'willy-nilly' as 'will he, nill he', meaning whether he wants to or not.

1 comment:

  1. Preach it!

    To take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, sometimes you have to stop the habitual thought processes and self-consciously examine things.

    Stand Fast,

    Andrew R.