The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however is to change it. - Karl Marx
A change because of philosophy
Interpreting for the sake of understanding is why we want to have knowledge. A philosopher’s job however is to verify if our understanding actually helps build knowledge or not: thus they various ways of interpretation. Marx shifts this aim of philosophy to a different one. He focuses on the fact that the end is change: change achieved through right understanding of issues, to detect flaws and alter them. Changing the world is similar to making it a better place to live. The question I would like to discuss about this is that –how can one achieve this through philosophy? And before that- is that what philosophy aims at?
11) What is philosophy???
Etymology and meaning: Philosophy comes from the Greek word philosophia meaning the love for wisdom. Defining philosophy is not very easy for a philosopher because mostly she would already be belonging to a particular school of thought that defines philosophy, in other words restrain its meaning, than another. Everyone who philosophizes don’t really follow a previously established definition of philosophy, rather their varying aims give them different perspectives. The meaning of philosophy doesn’t much follow from its etymology, as ‘love for wisdom’ is rather a state of mind; it is ambiguous in the sense that it doesn’t necessitate a search and after that- passive acceptance of the truth or attaining a better state. This issue lies in the sphere of metaphilosophy to investigate what will be the right kind of philosophy. But someone who knows the different aims of philosophy is hardly in a position to deny one of them.
Aims of philosophy: Taking the example of naturalist philosophy- a naturalist philosopher follows a different definition of philosophy than others and therefore denies supernaturalism. His aim is to give epistemic justification to propositions about natural science only. Such a discipline in philosophy wouldn’t regard the answers to metaphysical questions to be philosophical knowledge unless they were expressed in terms of natural science. Thus a different set of aims originates from a different understanding of philosophy and provides a different perspective to the world and incidentally all the philosophical questions. The notion of interpretation thus is important for philosophers, as every doctrine holds different axioms to be true and gives a world-view. There are paradigm shifts in science but philosophy follows no such patterns- despite better understanding of necessity, propositional and existential, the Cartesian proof of existence of god is still held to be valid by some philosophers. It is difficult refute an argument of a skepticist about objective existence of men by foundherentism, as both doctrines see the world differently. Such unresolved conflicts in philosophy signify the importance of its aim of knowledge. To have knowledge about the world, we need to know the truth.
If philosophers are at loggerheads about the state of an x, how would they change it? But this doesn’t mean that changing the world becomes a secondary aim of philosophy. The fundamental questions in philosophy weren’t conceived in a completely abstract manner; they arose from problems in human understanding like occurrence of something counter-intuitional or difficulty in tracing causality. The questions were created in order to obtain answers. In the simplest sense changing the world is also achieved through attaining a better mental state by finding explanation for what is unexplained. Philosophy, if considered understood by its practical value, is not less than intellectual value. This brings us to our next question- how will this be achieved?
22) Change and philosophy
The philosopher’s job: How do philosophers change the world? By creating ideas. Every individual has more or less access to some kind of knowledge like perceptual knowledge for instance. What remains to question is understood by a philosopher who breaks down what he sees into previously defined terms, provides concrete analogies to abstract concepts and also forms newer conceptions. This understanding created by philosophy is meant for change- it either replaces older ideas with new ones or reinforces the older ones by providing justification for them. What else can be expected from a philosopher? If feminist philosophers start chalking out plans to uplift women, that means they have switched roles from someone who methodically points out flaws in the secondary positioning of women to activists who are always in a course of action by the virtue of what they do- there lies a great difference in thinking and acting. But action is the end of thought- it may be physical or mental. Philosophers are thinkers, when they become actors they are well supported by a belief-system which is created by them unlike a common person.
The notion of change: Mankind has philosophized and in turn initiated numerous changes since ages. Marx’s argument doesn’t limit to this notion of change. His question is analogous to- why spend years to figure out if the glass is half full or half empty, fill the rest with water. The ends of optimism and pessimism as by this classic example is what philosophers always do; some of them even say that the entire glass is full but half with air and half with water; but the very need of perspectives to describe it is because of the obvious perception of that glass. Therefore change it first. This logic is seen to be applied in case of socialism. Material productive forces drive the markets, thus the society is governed by productive force, because this leads to emergence of classes and therefore class conflicts, markets must be state controlled. The Marxist philosophy initiates change in this manner by answering questions about an issue called classism, followed by the concept of MPFs, thereby the change of replacing MPFs. Let us analyze this notion of change by finding out the philosopher’s exact role in it. The philosopher saw class conflict and traced the reason why this happens, therefore operated upon the reason to put an end to class conflict. Let us revise this understanding by going deeper. Class conflict is explained by Marxism in this way that individuals always think in reference to their classes. The other angle to it is of course that material productive forces create diverse economic conditions. But the concept of class, as it has effects on thinking, is defined to be more than economic conditions; thus the corollary of this concept someone who doesn’t pertain to class interests doesn’t belong to that class. A philosopher who knows this wouldn’t uphold the idea of a planned economy where there are no MPFs, as classism doesn’t apply to every individual. The change of notion as described by Marx, in this case considers that socialism follows from Marxism because he thinks of philosophy only in its practical angle, which is acceptable but- Marx sees issue p, comes to the know it follows from a and b, formulates a theory that b if replaced by c gives no p and considers c to be a valid method of change.
Why should this be an acceptable method in philosophy? As in the quote, ‘philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways’- this interpretation is not as inconsequential as it sounds. If a philosopher sees truth, he cannot deny that as it naturally implies that he also has reasons to consider it to be the truth. If the change he aims at isn’t contradictory to what he holds to be true, then it is logical. If it aims for a change to deny a perspective he cannot refute otherwise, it is illogical. Changing the world is necessary, but in what aspects? Can one change natural laws? Can one deny complete rationality? Even such dispositions are derived from the world and thus a philosopher’s job would be to accept them if they are indefeasible and then there is no scope for changing them. The only change in such a process would be change in one’s belief that do not hold material or non-material existence in the objective world. The point of philosophy is change by means of interpretation. Both courses shouldn’t intervene with each other.
aa. Philosophy is meant for gaining knowledge about the world. This process follows a particular method in philosophy and requires to be complete.
ab. The aim of philosophy is to abstract knowledge out of the world by interpreting it and this aim is necessitated by the philosopher’s ends of changing.
cc. This change doesn’t necessarily imply changing changes in objects in the world and not change for the sake of change.