March 23, 2013

"A person who lives by philosophy and reason; a person who accepts things philosophically."

That's Definition #2 for "philosopher" in the the Oxford English Dictionary (which I'm reading because, as you can see in the previous post, someone, presumably mistakenly, referred to me as "the philosopher, Ann Althouse"). This definition goes back to the 14th century:
[c1380 Chaucer Second Nun's Tale 490, I recche nat what wrong that thow me profre, For I kan suffre it as a philosophre.]
1600 Shakespeare Much Ado about Nothing v. i. 35 For there was neuer yet Philosopher, That could endure the tooth-ake patiently.
1700 G. Farquhar Constant Couple ii. iv. 20 I'll beat him with the Temper of a Philosopher.
1855 Tennyson Maud iv. ix, in Maud & Other Poems 20 Be mine a philosopher's life in the quiet woodland ways.

16 comments:

edutcher said...

Lots of people live by philosophy and reason, but aren't philosophers.

Got any more citations?

Rabel said...

Use of "longueurs" in a blog post makes you a philosopher in my book.

If you can drop it into a bloggingheads video (without having to spit afterwards) I'll move you up to intellectual.

rhhardin said...

Women don't make good philosophers.

The drive to resolve things isn't dominant, but rather the drive to wander among them.

YoungHegelian said...

My adviser was always very careful to say that he was an historian of philosophy, and not a philosopher.

There really are very few people alive at any time who deserve the title.

ricpic said...

The etymology of philosopher - lover of wisdom - is also the best definition; it also tells us why Socrates is the greatest of philosophers, in that he was passionate about rooting out the truth and unconcerned with formulating a systematic explanation of everything. The explainers who call themselves philosophers do a signal disservice to philosophy. Nietzsche, a great philosopher, actually addressed this failing: "The will to a system signifies a lack of integrity."

Jim S. said...

Women don't make good philosophers.

The drive to resolve things isn't dominant, but rather the drive to wander among them.


Ah, but philosophy begins in wander. (Aristotle)

Jim S. said...

I've always liked Plantinga's definition of philosophy: it's essentially just thinking really, really hard.

wyo sis said...

We are all philosophers.

ricpic said...

We are all philosophers.

Not me. Totally iggerant.

Jim S. said...

I'm pretty eclectic myself, but I've never understood the complete rejection of systematic explanations. The drive for a system, after all, is the drive to understand things, and understanding is a key element of wisdom. Nietzsche ended up rejecting rationality and replacing it with intuition, which does not make him look good.

LarsPorsena said...

Stephen Hawking says philosophy is dead.

tim maguire said...

Interesting to see the evolution of language in those snippets. 1380 is barely recognizable as English, but we have't changed all that much since 1700, despite 1700 being about halfway between 1380 and now.

Jim S. said...

"Philosophy is dead" is a philosophical statement.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Q. What the hell can you do with philosophy?

Ans. Wrong question. The real question is what can philosophy do with you.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Q. What the hell can you do with philosophy?

Ans. Wrong question. The real question is what can philosophy do with you.

Archilochus said...

A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there.