Philosophy is notorious for subjecting itself to withering criticism, and that is precisely where philosophy progresses. For some philosophers, the critique of philosophy is also the very essence of philosophy. Jean Hyppolite interprets Hegel by saying “philosophical discourse contains its own criticism within itself.” Then, philosophical critique is inescapable, or, the discourse of philosophy cannot be isolated and insulated from a critique of any kind.
Jacques Derrida, in his seminal Of Grammatology: “Operating necessarily from the inside, borrowing all the strategic and economic resources from the old structure, borrowing them structurally, that is to say without being able to isolate their elements and atoms, the enterprise of deconstruction always in a certain way falls prey to its own work.” (P. 24) The deconstruction of philosophy merely unpacks the methods and logic and propositions employed by philosophers, yet this unpacking is always already unpacking, that is, rearrange the methods and reformat the logic and re-institute the propositions.
Since philosophy is self-referential, then the effort to define the founding conditions of philosophical truth from a purely objective position outsie of philosophical discourse is necessarily doomed to fail. Derrida inspects what the structures of philosophical texts contains in order to trace the hidden/excluded/repressed history/folks/concepts of western philosophical discourse as its founding conditions of possibility.
On my (now defunct) boards, a Hyperborean asked the following: Do you see it as a critique of Plato’s theory of forms where Plato gives up the theory, or a critique that causes Plato to revise his theory in The Sophist?
I answered: I doubt Plato gave up his theory, and instead he took the more difficult path of self-criticism. Something most philosophers lack the gumption to do: subject their earlier theories to severe critique and getting over the critique as well. Continue reading Plato’s Parmenides
Interlocutor #1: I hate philosophy! It never gets to the point, because it is a bunch of talk stuck in a perpetual circle! If philosophy ever truly got to the point, then we can use it and apply it in life, and hopefully become better people.
Interlocutor #2: Well, this may come as a shock to you, but there is a point in philosophy. It is to articulate reasons, examine how our thinking works, and account for the beliefs we hold. Philosophy does not preoccupy itself with “what” questions, because that is being engaged with the immediacy of experience. A philosophical frame of mind requires a contemplative state at the level of reflection. Within reflection, “why” questions emerges and philosophy ensues. Pending culture, philosophy employs many different types of languages – metaphysical, religious, logical, or even aesthetics – to talk about the point.
By the way… “the point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.” — Bertrand Russell