This here is a philosophy-blog. It’s purpose is to exercise my school-English. I will try to formulate my favourite Topics and main ideas in English. I will talk a lot about what I think philosophy is, or what philosophy should be.
For example, should philosophy be in English? Can a German or a Spanish text be philosophy? For very tolerant persons the answer will be: yes. Fact is that Analytic Philosophy is becoming stronger in European philosophy departments. And, in order to publish in peer reviewed journals, philosophers have to get all their ideas which they have taken up from books in German language into an English text. In this case, isn’t it easier to stop reading philosophy books in German and confine oneself to books and papers in English.
Well, my decision to start this blog is already somehow a decision about this question. At least it expresses my conviction that there is something about it. And then: It seems to me that texts about philosophy in German language are not taken seriously, anymore. That is, they are not taken seriously by German speaking persons (because by English speaking people they are just not read). There seems to be something like a lack of self-confidence in German speaking persons that makes them value utterances in English higher than German ones.
Please, do not get my message wrong. German language is not a holy cow for my. Neither am I a Defender of writing philosophy in German. It is rather the case that I am quite indifferent to the language (although, of course, I am able to express myself better in German), but that I can see that it matters to others.
I have the feeling now that I will not be able to communicate my thoughts about philosophy well, until I am able to communicate them in English. That’s why I am starting this blog. Maybe I will be able to find readers in the English speaking world who are interested in my topics and want to discuss them with me. This would be an honour and a great pleasure for me. As I will write in English, you might just respond to my post, and we can discuss it directly. It will not be like with a German text about philosophy where the reader ponders about the question whether he or she would respond to it, if the text was in English.
Of course, it is not just a question of language. It is also a question of institutions. It is not the case that German readers dislike their language so much; it is rather that academic publishing is done more and more in English. An English post in a blog therefore is a text that could possibly be part of a paper that appears in a peer reviewed philosophy journal; a German text is no such text that could possibly be or become something.
I do not write all this to complain about languages. It is rather the relationship between language and philosophy which is interesting. As we all know, philosophy started as a pretty personal and oral thing. Socrates discussing different topics with his friends in the polis. The idea of a common language – a lingua franca – rather belongs to science.
The idea of science is to find out things or invent things which bring mankind forward as a whole. Things, which bring progress. Therefore a common language is needed. But Socrates talked to a friend in order to educate this friend, and in order to heal his own soul. The idea of education, or of learning, is different from the idea of science. All scientific findings may already be there, but even though each new human citizen on earth starts his or her education from zero.
That is, for me, a fascinating question. Science can do a lot for society and mankind and make it last. That is, scientists find out something, and then this knowledge is stored in books. It’s there, mankind has this knowledge. But even though science discovers things for all human beings, this fact doesn’t change anything for education. Even though a lot of knowledge exists, the new human being has to learn it anew.
The question is whether philosophy stands more on the side of science or more on the side of education. I, personally, tend to the second option.
Traditionally philosophy was rather identified as a scientific enterprise. But this is a difficult question, for science, in former times, was defined differently from today and the concept contained more educational elements than today.
So much for today. All the best, philohof.