Social philosophy deals with

Social philosophy deals with

Philosophy of social science , branch of philosophy that examines the concepts, methods, and logic of the social sciences. The philosophy of social science is consequently a metatheoretical endeavour—a theory about theories of social life. To achieve their end, philosophers of social science investigate both the practice of the social sciences and the nature of the entities that the social sciences study—namely, human beings themselves. The philosophy of social science can be broadly descriptive unearthing the fundamental conceptual tools in social science and relating them to the tools employed in other human endeavours , prescriptive recommending that a certain approach be adopted by the social sciences so that they can accomplish what the recommender thinks social science ought to accomplish , or some combination of the two. The approach that answers this question affirmatively is called naturalism , whereas that which answers it negatively is known as humanism , though a number of theories attempt to combine these two approaches.

Philosophy of social science

John Dewey s Lectures i Breathing, eating, digesting, seeing and hearing long preceded anatomy and physiology. We first act to meet special needs and particular occasions. Only afterwards do we reflect upon what we do and how and why we do it, and try to frame general principles, a philosophy of the matter. So with social, collective action. Men built up customs and transmitted traditions to their offspring for centuries before they tried to discover any rationale in what they did.

They made no attempts at explanation. If asked what for one they would have said they had such and [such] customs because they liked them, or because their ancestors told them so to act or because their gods had established them. To question too closely was to be impious or disloyal, and might result as with Socrates in death.

It is easier to follow instinct and custom and the orders of others. Men think when forced to do so by trouble by something the matter which makes it necessary to find some way out not provided by habit and inclination. So men began to philosophize about their collective habits, their established institutions only when these began to cease [to] function satisfactorily.

The difficulties might be internal strife or external contacts and conflicts or both. But something threatening change or disintegration made men compare and inquire and attempt to select and hold on to the really good. Disease and wounds of battle made men study anatomy and the normal physiological processes. Otherwise men might forever have taken for granted their natural processes without thinking of them never directing attention to them.

Social pathology had similar effect on social theorizing. Ill from Greece, from China. After theory had once arisen life does not go on just the same. Men do not breathe and eat because of their knowledge of anatomy and physiology. These acts still depend upon deeper forces. But they may eat and breathe somewhat differently , especially in emergencies , because of their knowledge. Do they make a difference in what men do or only in what they feel about what they do.

Is philosophizing practical like steam as a driving force in the locomotive? Or is it more like the noise of the escaping steam in the whistle — a by-product, an accompaniment, a symptom of what is going on? There are replies which are highly exaggerated in both directions. Bookish people and philosophers are likely to attach too much importance to abstract ideas, to regard them as the most important moving causes.

They seek ideological explanations for everything. They overlook the extent to which men are still driven into action by primary instincts like hunger, sex and love of power or comfort and glory, by the pressure of circumstances and by the ease of paths of habit. They say for example that the last war was primarily and essentially a conflict of philosophies, of systems of ideas.

At the other extreme we have the so-called materialistic explanations of institutions and social changes. Economic causes are said to be the only real or dynamic causes. Ideas are effects, products. Desires first for the primary necessities of life and then for power over others and for enjoyment of the luxuries due to wealth are the only explaining causes. Even art and religion and systems of morality as well as social customs and political regulations are to be explained economically.

The war was not a conflict of ideas and ideals but a struggle for economic advantages and commercial supremacy. Ideals, theories are but a mask to conceal the material struggle going on, fine phrases to arouse the multitude that allows themselves to be beguiled by them. Philosophies that pretend to do more than analyze and describe the play of economic forces are only dreams or else devices by which the few powerful maintain their hold upon the masses. We meet here the first great question concerning social philosophy — one which can only be answered in the course of the entire discussion.

But we shall at the outset dogmatically anticipate the nature of the reply that will be developed in the subsequent lectures. Ideas, theories are originally products, causes of non-intellectual forces. Thinking arises so to speak only in the thin cracks of solid habits, and only with great difficulty penetrates the resistant.

Or it plays fitfully and like a phosphorescent gleam over the surface of vast ocean of traditions, customs and special adaptations to circumstances. But nonetheless it does have, had had, a really practical influence, and under certain conditions, to be dealt with in the next lecture, may have a greater directive influence on affairs. Effects after they are brought into being get intermingled in all living forms with the causes that evolved them and modify the forces that produced them.

German philosophy [was] a product of German conditions, not a deliverance of pure reason. But after it had become current [? No need perhaps to argue in a country where Confucianism has been a force for two thousands years that even admitting the concrete and practical origin of the system that it organized solidified and focused and rendered persistent factors that without the intellectual formulation might have proved temporary.

Not ideas or theories by effective. But human beings who. This is true even when ideas are false. A man with an illusion acts differently from one without it. And while perhaps the main effect of philosophic systems has been to consolidate spread and perpetuate the force of conditions that otherwise would have been local and transient, yet they have also an exciting and driving force especially in times of crises.

The materialist admits too much when it says that theories, ideals are tools used hypocritically by controlling vested interests to sway masses. For the assertion admits that men are moved by ideals, and that they can be stirred to act in masses and energetically against danger and odds only by appealing to ideals, to general conceptions.

If great numbers of men had not been made to believe this, the war could not have been carried on. The most that is proved is that general ideas are so efficacious, so powerful in times of crises, that the purely material economic interests of the. Especially is this true under recent conditions of warfare where the old direct motives of personal exploits and glory have lost efficacy — general motives, patriotism, national feeling, justice, humanity, etc. No conception is falser than that of men actuated by calculations of self interest.

In many respects the world might be better if there were more prudence, more enlightened selfishness, more deliberate weighing of advantages and disadvantages. Action still rests upon instincts and emotions rather than calculation but many instincts can be brought into play collectively only by means of stimuli of an idealistic kind. And systems of thought, philosophies, that are abstract for the few condense into such simple and moving mottoes, war-cries, ideals for the many.

The best evidence that philosophy has some power is the fear of it expressed by the representatives and guardians of these interests. Emerson stated the idea rather intensely when he said Beware when God lets loose a thinker on the planet. All things then become fluid. Thinking means the introduction of a novel and in so far incalculable factor — a deviation or departure, and an invention.

The hidebound conservative is justified in the uneasiness which he shows at attempts to formulate and justify rationally even his own beliefs. The appeal to reason that is implied is unsettling. In general we may distinguish three types. First those which are aware primarily of the defects in existing institutions and which criticize and condemn them. They conceive of a different ideal state, so different as to be opposed in a wholesale way and capable of realization only in some revolutionary way.

They are idealistic , if not romantic , utopian , in tone. They find the true standards and models of life in something apart from and beyond existing affairs. They hold that the mind has been corrupted by contact with things as they actually exist until it fails to perceive the true condition and model. But if the confusion, darkness and error due to this influence be removed, then inner illumination will enable men to see the truth and bring about a radical change.

It is thus sudden , abrupt in its conceptions, and appeals to self-reliance, to inspiration from within , combined with contempt for the existing state of things and its corrupting influence. Under different conditions, something of this type is. It expects things now despised to overthrow those now esteemed, the weak things to confound the mighty; ideals to command the actual. It colors thought in times of great social change; French Revolution, Russian, looks forward to a new heaven and hearth.

It aims at justifying the spirit of existing institutions. It finds the true patterns and standards within affairs. It looks askance upon change, especially abrupt change, because evil is due to departure from necessary meanings and fixed relationships embedded in things. Reform is restoration, recovery of these true patterns. That is the attitude of such men as Aristotle, Confucius, Hegel. While the first type is critical and pessimistic of things as they are, this one is complacent or optimistic.

Essentially if not incidentally things are right and reasonable. Evil is rather in the mind that has departed from them. Instead then of appealing to the mind itself to find within itself intuitively and innately ideals for change, it holds that the mind must be. Its temper is realistic not idealistic. It aims at reform of character and mind to bring them into conformity with the true meanings of established institutions and relationships , not at reform of institutions by appeal to the inner ideals of the illuminated mind.

It teaches self-distrust, distrust of enthusiasm, impulse, the importance of patient study and instruction from without. It tends to subordinate the individual self, as the radical type tends to exalt it. Both of them then lack the kind of practical power or efficacy most needed — power to project and direct the changes that are required. The first expects some sudden and revolutionary change to bring in an ideal condition; the second resists all change.

But what humanity needs is ability to shape and direct the changes that are bound to occur. The conservative [type] lacks leverage for guiding change because it consecrates and justifies things as they es -. The radical and idealistic type lacks leverage with things as they are because it opposes the inner ideal to the outer affair and institution in a wholesale way.

The net result is either negative and destructive action or else inaction, passivity, waiting for the ideal to be realized by some miracle of change. The next lecture in particular will be devoted to an exposition of the chief traits of the third sort of theory.


John Dewey s Lectures i Breathing, eating, digesting, seeing and hearing long preceded anatomy and physiology. We first act to meet special needs and particular occasions. Only afterwards do we reflect upon what we do and how and why we do it, and try to frame general principles, a philosophy of the matter. So with social, collective action. Men built up customs and transmitted traditions to their offspring for centuries before they tried to discover any rationale in what they did.

Social philosophy and political philosophy are both very closely related fields of philosophy generally dealing with the role of the individual in society, as well as the role of government. Social philosophy is the philosophical study of questions about social behavior typically, of humans.

Topics discussed extend far beyond philosophy and philosophers. What makes us a philosophy forum is more about our approach to the discussions and debates than what subject is being debated. Common topics include but are absolutely not limited to neuroscience, psychology, sociology, cosmology, religion, political theory, ethics, and so much more. Discuss Final Notice now.

Social Philosophy - Science topic

Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Social Philosophy Term Paper. Philosophy is a science. Science is an orderly body of knowledge and is this philosophy.

Portal:Social and political philosophy

Such questions are often posed as problems [8] [9] to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras c. Philosophical methods include questioning , critical discussion , rational argument , and systematic presentation. Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust if one can get away with it? Historically, "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge. In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize. Other investigations closely related to art, science, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy.

Social Philosophy

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