Can philosophy exist on its own? The cognitively challenged think so. See the somewhat dim-witted “Philosophy Tool Kit” in Aeon, by what else, a professional philosopher, somebody taught precisely to teach that “Thinking like a philosopher need not be a strange and arcane art, if you get started with these tricks of the trade… At a time when we are bombarded more than ever with specious claims and spurious inferences, clear thinking provides a much-needed safeguard that we should all strive towards. Philosophers place a premium on certain tools for regimenting our thinking, especially logic and probability theory.”
In other words, like everything else, for the dim-witted, philosophy is a trade. Being wise, the Promethean essence of human spirit, is brought down to recipes. Apparently to “regiment” our thinking we have to acknowledge that “trade“. Everything is a “trade“. And why do we “regiment”? Well, according to all too many people paid to propagandize the official version of philosophy, we are in an army, apparently, “regimented” in the triumphing army of trade. Wisdom is a military trade. (The afore quoted “philosopher” comes from Australia, a place which made lots of money with coal and iron sold to China.)
Well… Trade is not the essence of humanity, wisdom is. And wisdom rests on science, knowing what is true. Not what a trade our disciplined regiments are.
(The author in Aeon self-defines as an “analytic philosopher”. “Analytic philosophy” is a branch of philosophy so stupidly arrogant that it thinks nobody else is analytical. Analysis actually means “deconstruction”, something ironic as “analytic philosophers” tend to despise Derrida… Bertrand Russel is often viewed as the father of analytic philosophy, although he thought it was not an activity worth having…)
Accordingly, Plato thought that the first trick, the first tool, the first requirement, of philosophy was to learn “geometry” (which was NON-Euclidean geometry at the time, thus not that simple!). Please remember that Plato was notoriously friendly to tyrants. However, even him did not think philosophy was a regimented trade!
Another interest is that, by being exposed to science and mathematics, the spirit and culture of inquiry, fundamental to the love of wisdom, can be encouraged. Such is the fundamental toolkit of the philosopher.
Most so-called philosophers praise themselves for superior thinking. However human species have unceasingly deliberately perfected what superior thinking is, and provides with, for millions of years. Superior thinking is not a static achievement, a book one can learn by rote. Superior thinking is what humanity does unceasingly more of.
Philo-Sophy, Loving Wisdom, is an abbreviation for the excellence which is truly meant. (Just as an electron is an abbreviation for what is truly meant; Dirac’s meaning of the electron as an abbreviation was different from that of his immediate predecessors.)
Everybody loves wisdom, even cats. Especially cats. But wisdom as cats tend to have it, is different from wisdom, as Homo Sapiens tend to have it.
What’s ought to be truly meant by “philosopher” is someone who loves superior wisdom more than any other love, and has actually achieved that superiority. Cats are not philosophers, because, given a chance, they would rather eat the bearer of superior wisdom (namely Homo Sapiens).
The notions of “philosopher” and the “philosophical method” are distinct. A genuine philosopher will practice the philosophical method, which consists into using whatever it takes to advance wisdom, even poetry and the vaguest analogies. And what is wisdom? Superior understanding of what makes the universe tick.
Thus a towering philosopher will have to be a scientist, mathematician and logician, as Plato felt, and as towering geniuses of the Middle Ages such as Abelard and Buridan were (Buridan proved Aristotle physics wrong, introducing the heliocentric system, most of “Newton’s” laws… and successfully tackled the problem of self-referential statements, circa 1350 CE, amidst plague and war).
The average persons feel that exhibiting tribal appurtenance is the highest form of wisdom, that make them no better than baboons (be they jihadist, attached to Islam, or physicists, anxious to exhibit their quirky love for the local sport team). That does not qualify them as philosophers, because our ancestral baboon equivalents have been doing this for 50 million years, there is nothing superior about it.
Part of wisdom is not to stay a prisoner of the vehicle used to convey it, be it a person, a language, a theory, a sentence or a word. The question is not what wisdom is, but what wisdom means: analyze not the words, but what they are supposed to mean. What the interlocutor meant, and that interlocutor could be nature itself.
Any logic L, and thus, in particular any wisdom W, is relative to a context. Giving a context to that context is going meta. Going meta is not in general unique, and it is always possible, and even easy: pick up an axiom, say A of L, and consider the meta logic made of the union of L and what you get by adjoining non-A to L. This is the scheme to get non-Euclidean geometry, or non-standard arithmetic, or non-standard analysis, or complex analysis from real analysis, or even finite fields.
Nature is a sadistic god. Why not? We know nature is a sadistic god, because we have wisdom. Hyenas don’t have that luxury, condemning what feeds them. Hyenas have to eat the genitals of the uncooperative buffalo first, as hyena heuristics show that they are delicious, and their absorption diminishes the vigor of the prey. Occasionally, though, a lioness will have the wisdom to protect a young prey animal, as a pet.
Even lions know nature is a sadistic god. But only us can go industrial, building a better god. Hint: it’s not to be obtained by just focusing on the word “the”, and equally puny tricks (cockroaches know tricks too; they don’t belong to superior wisdom, because, however correct, they are too puny).
Human wisdom enables to provide us with the tools to build a less sadistic version of nature. Sadism where we want it. Not where “it” wants it…