Sie sind auf Seite 1von 17

THE SOCIAL RELEVANCE OF PHILOSOPHY

What is the social relevance of philosophy? Any answer to this question must involve at least three elements. First, we need to understand how philosophy has brought about social change in the past. Second, to dig into the question more deeply, we need to see how the definition of philosophy can be opened up. Thirdly, we need to critically examine and challenge some of the assumptions that might be hidden in the question. Once we have done all this, we can try to answer the question.

REVOLUTIONS
Philosophy can instigate revolutions. These revolutions are sometimes slow and profound and, for this reason, they can be difficult to perceive and appreciate. For example, consider the transformation of thinking about nature in the 17th century. Galileo, Descartes and other thinkers invented physics, and thereby made science as a unity possible. Prior to this quiet revolution, the world was conceived as consisting of four elements: earth, water, air and fire. Physical changes were usually explained in terms of the natural tendencies of these elements and in terms of the purposes of God. The intellectual uprising consisted in the discovery and the invention of the modern notion of matter, the concept of physical laws and the idea of describing physical changes mathematically. Along with these concepts, philosopher-scientists developed the empirical method of science, of making controlled, repeatable observations, and separated this from both a priori deduction and the citation of authority. This was an incredibly productive set of ideas and practices. By the end of the 17 th century, it already had many practical applications and socio-political effects. There were a host of inventions that were precursors to the industrial revolution of the late 18th century. The initial discovery and creation of these fundamental concepts and methods of investigation was a philosophical revolution because it was not merely a question of encountering new empirical information. It also involved crucially the molding of new concepts, and finding new ways of thinking. Consider another important conceptual revolution. Locke portrayed society as a social contract among equals in a way that explained how it was sometimes legitimate for a people to overthrow the government. His political thought became enshrined in the U.S. constitution and, because of this and the work of other thinkers, the idea of a right became common political currency in the 20th century. Many of todays political movements could not exist without this notion. Usually, we take the concept of a right for granted, as part of our everyday political vocabulary, but a little reflection shows us that it had to be built and, probably, that it can be improved and refined. These are theoretical and philosophical tasks.

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

Here is a third example. The 19th century saw a revolution in our thinking about logic and the foundations of mathematics. The idea of a formal system became possible because of the theoretical work done at this time in mathematics and logic, which broke two thousand years of domination by Aristotles syllogistic logic. In turn, the idea of a purely formal system made the development of pure computational processes possible together with the computer in the 20th century. As in the previous examples, the development of new concepts opened up new areas of research, which in turn permitted new technology and social institutions. These three examples illustrate how philosophical revolutions can occur quietly on a grand scale. They also suggest how they can function in a more modest way. For example, in the 1960s, there was a fundamental change in the philosophy of mind, which went hand in hand with a transformation in psychology. This consisted in the realization that, to avoid ontological mind/body dualism, one does not have to espouse behaviorism. In other words, the study of cognitive processes can be scientific and, in part as a result of this conceptual insight, cognitive science was born. Consider another example. In the 1970s, the philosopher and economist Amartya Sen, along with other political theorists, challenged the standard view of development as economic growth and, in the 1980s, Sen developed new ways to measure the well-being of individuals and communities based on the kinds of capabilities that people need to have in order to be able to live well, and which includes many non-economic factors (cf. Sen 2001). This work was part of a conceptual revolution that overthrew the conception of development as merely economic growth, which was prevalent in the 1950s. As a result of this change, nongovernmental organizations and, to a lesser extent, governments have altered the ways in which they give aid. Once again, a conceptual change brings, as well as reflecting, new kinds of practices.

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

CONCEPTION OF PHILOSOPHY
A more complete answer to the original question requires that we reconstruct the concept of philosophy itself. We should not assume that philosophy is an activity performed exclusively by university professors who work in philosophy departments. Such a definition excludes, for example, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke and Hume who never taught in a university. Moreover, it also excludes a lot of todays exciting philosophical thinking that occurs outside philosophy departments and academia. We should conceive of philosophy as a way of thinking rather than as an academic institution. Put simply, it is critical thought about concepts and ways of thinking. It is thought that involves the analysis or clarification of concepts and the uncovering of meanings, and which is normally supported by arguments. Perhaps, this seems an overly generous or wide characterization of philosophy, but narrower definitions end up excluding aspects of what is normally considered as a part of philosophy. Anyone who asks questions about concepts, seeks clarifications and distinctions, and opens up new conceptual space and gives some argumentation to support his or her claims, thereby engages in philosophy. Academic philosophers tend to have certain styles of practicing these arts; they tend to focus on the most abstract questions and often emphasize rigor as against innovation. However, there is no uniform philosophical method or pre-defined set of philosophical problems that could make a hard and fast distinction between academic philosophy and conceptual thinking outside academia. The main purpose of this broad definition is to contrast philosophy as conceptual inquiry with empirical investigations that attempt to discover facts. Such empirical investigations form an important part, but not the whole of, the natural sciences, the social sciences and some of the humanities, such as history. In contrast, philosophy is concerned with clarifying, expanding and creating concepts and meanings. This does not imply that we can separate sharply empirical research from conceptual innovation and clarification. Such a distinction is, for example, difficult to apply to the historical development of quantum mechanics and relativity. Furthermore, the invention of new concepts always takes place in the context of a background of empirical knowledge and of investigative and other practices. Consider the work of the pioneering economist and philosopher Adam Smith. Smith observed the division of labor in the manufacture of pins in small factories in his
RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

native Scotland and applied this idea to international trade. Lockes political philosophy did not occur in a vacuum. were century power struggle various kings. The ideas that he expressed explicitly and systematically becoming part of the political atmosphere of 17th England, where there had been a long between parliament and

Also, this view of philosophy does not mean that empirical facts are irrelevant to philosophical thinking. For example, the philosophy of physics would be concerned with questions such as what would count as an elementary particle? to give a satisfactory answer to this kind of question, one needs to know a lot of physics. Finding answers to questions in the philosophy of economics requires a good knowledge of economics. Furthermore, in any field, formulating new conceptual questions in a way that opens up space for innovation requires empirical knowledge. The important overall point that emerges from this discussion is that academic philosophers are not the only practitioners of the art of critical thinking about concepts. For example, biologists who try to answer conceptual questions regarding their area of research are practicing philosophy. Educational theorists and teachers who try to rethink the basic principles of curriculum development are also engaging in philosophy. As a consequence of this broad view of philosophy, there are philosophical questions and problems in all areas of human inquiry and practice. Moreover, almost every person has practiced the art of conceptual thinking at some time. For instance, many people ask questions like these: what would count as an improvement in the quality of my life? or what sort of work would be good for me?. In part, these questions are philosophical because they seek a definition or clarification of an idea, in addition to empirical, psychological information about oneself. They request the relevant criteria. To return to the original question, the expanded conception of philosophy implies that philosophical thought is bound to have social relevance. Viewed in this way, philosophy is a human activity in much the same way that telling jokes is. Asking about its social relevance is a little like inquiring about the social relevance of talking. It is so much a part of the human

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

condition that it hardly can be separated in the necessary way. Sometimes, questioning the social relevance of philosophy is motivated by a general worry about the usefulness of theoretical thinking in general. Theory is often opposed to practice, and the term practice apparently implies something practical and useful. In this way, theory becomes regarded as something that is, almost by definition, useless and impractical. According to this view, theory is for ivory towers and practice is for everyday life. I shall try to meet these concerns, which are based on a method of contrasting theory and practice that is flawed in at least two respects. First, theory practice inform each other because necessarily they are bound to each other. On the one hand, theory builds on existing practices. We have already noted the examples of Smith and Locke. In fact, Smiths idea of the specialization of labor, which he applied to international trade, had many consequences that he could not have foreseen. For example, it led to the idea of the automated factory and, eventually, had an impact on computer science. In effect, theorizing itself is a practice that takes place within a context of other practices. On the other hand, all of our social practices and individual activities are expressions of understanding. Actions are caused by beliefs and desires, which are framed and limited by our concepts. Therefore, practice necessarily has an implicit theoretical aspect, and we can improve practice by improving theory. and Of course, there are also other more direct ways to enhance practice. Not all improvements in practice require conceptual change. Furthermore, we do not want to fall into the trap of imagining that, by resolving a problem in thought, we solve it in practice. Theory is only useful insofar as it is actually used, even when the way it is employed is not predictable. Second, this way of contrasting theory and practice tends to be traditionalist; it silently tends

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

to oppose change. This is because the usefulness and practicality of something always assumes an end. X is useful and Y is practical are incomplete expressions in that they do not specify any relevant objective. Something useful is merely a means, a hopefully dispensable instrument to some goal. If we take the aims implicitly for granted, then this signifies that they are not open for revision or explicit acceptance. This may not be very problematic, for instance, when we refer to some general instrument, such as a telephone or a bridge. However, when we refer to an activity as socially useful, we may have to consider important ends that are not so obvious. For example, does being educated count as an end? By this, I do not mean is it socially useful that people are better educated?; rather, I mean does the improvement in peoples education itself count as an end?. If it does, then an activity that leads to this result may well be socially relevant, even if it does not produce visible technological changes. The examples of the use of philosophy that we examined in Part I of this chapter suffer from a defect. They were cases where conceptual change has resulted in obvious technological and social applications. For instance, we claimed that 19 th century logic was necessary for the computer; 17th century philosophy of science was necessary for the industrial revolution and so on. These examples assume a standard of usefulness and try to show how philosophy has contributed to social development that accords with this standard. This gives us a relatively superficial understanding of how philosophy is socially relevant because it makes a narrow assumption about what the appropriate ends are in order for something to count as socially relevant. We need to understand better the very idea of something being useful or socially relevant, and that is a philosophical question. The original worry that may motivate one to contrast theory and practice can be reformulated to avoid these problems. The reformulation is: how, in fact, can theory and practice be better integrated? This question assumes that, ideally, theory and practice should not be divorced, but it implies that, in actuality, they often are. This reformulation is really a new and more interesting concern, which, when applied to philosophy, implies a criticism of the discipline as it is often practiced in academia, and also of those people who engage in practices but without reflecting philosophically about their meaning and presuppositions. For example, until quite recently, philosophers have stayed away from management science, and business managers have religiously tried to avoid the philosophical implications of their practices. In politics, in the hands of the practitioners, theory has tended to be considered as a tool for gaining votes and packaging preformed ideas rather than as a serious enterprise to deepen and refresh our understanding. And,

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

in the minds of the theoreticians, political practice has tended to be regarded as a Darwinian struggle between parties, best left to those who do not mind having dirty hands or a soiled reputation rather than as an activity loaded with presuppositions that need to be articulated. What is the social relevance of philosophy? The first way challenges the question rather than trying to answer it directly. The question has two major assumptions built into it, which may be disputed. First, what counts as socially relevant? What are the social ends that we should have in mind? Without some specification of the appropriate ends, the question is incomplete and cannot be answered. As we have seen already, we should not merely assume the ends because this amounts to taking accepted social values for granted. A specification of such ends must be the result of a normative social analysis or discourse, which is part of the function of philosophy. Second, the question suggests that philosophy ought to be socially relevant. Perhaps, philosophy ought to be more socially relevant than it is usually today. Nevertheless, even if we assume that this is true, we still should challenge the question by asking should philosophy always be socially relevant?. both primary goal philosophical process. First, the very general goal of philosophy is to improve the conceptual aspects of our understanding in any field. With this idea in mind, let us review some of our earlier conclusions. We have seen that there are conceptual aspects to all fields of knowledge, whether they appear socially useful or not. Also, we noted that dramatic conceptual revolutions have occurred slowly when groups of thinkers have pursued their work without having specific practical results in mind. The theoretical work undertaken in the 19th century concerning the foundations of mathematics was not instigated in order to develop the computer. Galileo did not foresee the industrial revolution; he wanted to understand the mechanics of motion and overthrow the medieval conception of physical explanation. Furthermore, we have seen also that practice always presupposes theory, or ways of understanding and concepts. Better theory can lead to better practice, but not necessarily in ways that are predictable. Given these three points, the anti-answer to the question what is the social relevance of philosophy? is that philosophy should not always There are two reasons for thinking that it ought not, and relate to the idea that having social relevance as a can destroy important facets of the

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

aim to be socially relevant because, by so aiming, it may undermine the conditions that allow it to be fertile and transformational. Second, the philosophical process is sometimes comparable to artistic creation, not in the sense that it results in conclusions that should be aesthetically appreciated rather than critically assessed, but rather in the sense that philosophers often struggle with expressing insights that nag them. A similar creative process occurs in much investigation. Additionally, much philosophical thinking can be likened also to exploration, motivated by curiosity and love for an area of knowledge. A thinker fascinated by the conceptual implications of the theory of evolution will explore this area of knowledge without trying to justify it in terms of its usefulness. Of course, the persons love for the area may lead him or her to praise it as one of the most important fields of contemporary research, but that is a different point. The investigation is motivated mainly by the love of the subject matter and by the desire for greater understanding, and not primarily by the idea that it will have useful results. For these reasons, philosophical activity cannot be compared always appropriately to our usual models of the socially useful. For example, consider the building of a hospital, the search for a new pharmaceutical drug and various forms of social and political activism. These are exemplary socially useful actions. Such actions are motivated by goals that are perceived to be useful for society in a way that artistic creation and exploration are not. Consequently, insofar as the philosophical process is like artistic creation and exploration, we should not expect it always to follow our typical paradigms of socially useful actions. However, once again, this point does not negate the claim that philosophy should be more socially relevant. Nevertheless, it warns us not to assimilate all forms of the philosophical quest to our usual models of actions that are socially useful. In summary, the question is philosophy socially relevant? is loaded with some unspecified conception of social relevance and with the assumption that philosophical thinking should be directed towards being useful, which may destroy the creative and exploratory facets of such thought. It might be better to ask how can philosophy be socially relevant?. We can answer this new question as follows. To counter-act narrow-mindedness, we need to understand better the idea of being socially useful. Something useful is merely a means to some goal. The concept of the useful is not especially problematic when the ends in question are obvious. However, when we refer to something as socially useful, we may have in mind, for example, an idea that

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

promotes important ends that are not obvious and that require either redefinition or invention. For example, without doubt, the global community will face increasing natural resource shortages during this new century and, while part of the solution to this problem will be technical, we will also have to change our ways of thinking. For instance, economics will have to become more ecological, as well as more human. Of course, we do not know how this should happen because this is exactly the problem. We need to discover and invent new ways of thinking economically, and we do not know yet what these are. In a densely populated world, our conception of design will have to change because more aspects of our environment will have to be designed. The question how should it change? is precisely the problem. Here is another example. The political changes we have seen happening in the world these last twenty or so years almost certainly indicate the need for a reformulation of the concept of democracy. For, while regions affirm their need for more autonomy, at the same time global problems indicate the future need for better management and more democracy at the international level. Meanwhile, the traditional debate between the left and the right has lost steam in many parts of the world. All of this points to the need for new political thought. These examples illustrate two important general lessons. First, that it is a mistake to place theory and practice in a sharp dichotomy. Theory and practice, like thought and action, always influence each other. Furthermore, thought itself is an action, and every practice embodies a theory. Think of Adam Smith. Practice breeds theory, which breeds new practice. Second, conceptual thought is suited to the solving and clarifying of what we can call open and basic normative questions, which cannot be answered by empirical investigation alone. Questions, such as how should we conceive democracy? and how should morality be defined? are a request for the redefinition of ends and intrinsic values and, in this way, they are quite different from technical questions, which seek more efficient means to a given set of ends.

Filipino Philosophy and Post-Modernity


Post-Modernity, with its stress on freedom and creativity, is a vantage point that can

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

dispose Filipino thinkers to philosophically formulate, construct and develop thought systems. This liberating milieu can be reckoned as a fertile occasion where Filipinos can explore the conditions of possibilities that grant a philosophical status to thoughts, statements or constructions that either come from or pertain to the Filipino mind. Such that when we use the concept Filipino Philosophy, we are wellconscious of these two interrelated points The Identity and Referential Nature of the concept Filipino, and the connotation/intension of the term Philosophy. Is it Filipino? Is it philosophical? These are the questions that have guided the ruminations in this philosophical treatise. And as an initial insight to such questions, we propose a kind of vantage point that can address the identity and referential nature of the term Filipino in a Filipino Philosophy and the philosophical substance of its claim. This perspective, we shall argue, may be construed by a social-scientistphilosopher. As a social scientist, this thinker is mindful of the descriptions or characteristics that may be regarded as telling of the Filipino milieu. As a philosopher, this thinker makes it his task to regress to speculate on the logical assumptions or presuppositions that regulate activities that are suggested and verified by the social scientist. The concept Filipino Philosophy has gravitated many Filipino thinkers to participate in processes or explorations that seek to comprehend its meaning.1 Professors of philosophy in universities, for instance, have been informed of its emerging presence. To date, only scanty efforts were made to outline the possible content of a philosophy subject in Filipino Philosophy.2 This phenomenon, when reckoned, seems to suggest two things: there is an existing hesitation among university professors to deal with the identity concept of being a Filipino, and philosophy teachers anticipate that they are not ready to face the complexities in this expected query: What is the meaning of the term philosophy in the concept of a Filipino Philosophy? With these two tracks of thinking, the present article hopes to demonstrate the need of having a vantage point that can possibly meet and uphold the demands that come from the referential connotation of the term Filipino, and the intension of the word philosophy. This perspective, as we shall later demonstrate, may be accomplished by a Filipino thinker who asks and reflects like a social scientistphilosopher. This bridging of two disciplines cannot happen instantaneously. However, we take the cudgels to begin in this reflection on what it means to socially construe the concept of being Filipino while remaining equally mindful that what one is proposing is philosophic. With this insight, the present article, therefore, looks into the conditions of possibility where the social science lens and philosophical vantage points can interface. In this way, the attempt to lay down the cards that are at stake when one talks of a Filipino Philosophy is continued and hopefully nourished. This is a response to our perceived need of having a group of Filipino thinkers who can provide sufficient

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

content to the term Filipino and who is convinced that their work belongs to philosophy.

A Post-Modernist Strand: A Presupposition


In Post-Modernity, we have witnessed the privileging of the language of particulars. This is most seen in the growing appeal of situational perspectives and transitory vantage points. Since flux and cracks have occupied the forefront of discussions, thinking in the post-modern milieu can be analogous to make-shifts temporary shelters to live by, nurture and defend. This transitory character of thinking, in our opinion, is a logical consequence of the primacy of the particulars. When the individuals voice is given so much meaning and power, we are somewhat allowed to imagine that the kind and degree of philosophizing today are directly proportional to the number of individuals who wish to and are engaged in philosophical thinking. This clich seems apt to describe the possibilities of philosophical thinking today the sky is the limit. Perhaps, this is one promise that Nietzsche has foreseen in his attempt to unlock the doors of differences/Equivocity and banish the hold of Univocity/sameness in the platform of philosophizing.3 After all, things and ideas do not appear all-too-human when thinking functions in the midst of the unfamiliar, with this milieu in philosophy the privileging of particulars may not be entirely surprising after all. Since the post-modern effect is to make ourselves disposed to the dialectic between the familiar and unfamiliar, the unfolding milieu can actually serve as an opportune occasion for the systematic articulation of particular philosophies.

An Apprehension with Post-Modernity


By invoking our own specificities, we propose that post-modernism can also be reckoned as a location for the discussion of a particular philosophy that can be called our own Filipino. This is an important presupposition that the present article holds. But there are some hesitations in proposing that a Filipino Philosophy is to be discussed within the ambit of the Post-Modern Milieu. Let us look into this apprehension. Presupposition, in this regard, is understood within the purview of a historical science. This is in contrast to the modernist attempt to present a stainless constellation of assumptions similar to the project of modern mathematics. Robin George Collingwood, Part of the initial hesitation is the free-for-all-attitude that the Post-Modern mindset carries. Should the notion of a Filipino philosophy follow certain standards of thought? Not discounting the possible limitations that standards bring, we are of the opinion that there is still a need to have a logical and
RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

organized way of presenting thoughts. Otherwise, we might all be content with aphorisms. Can we effectively communicate each other's thoughts if we solely use the language of aphorisms? Here, we are already introduced to the conflict of having a laissez-fair approach to thinking and to thinking logically. What ideal should be followed in pursuing a Filipino Philosophy? Since we need to start somewhere, how can we begin discussing the concept of a Filipino philosophy without becoming too obliged to follow the logical format that structures provide and without becoming too pressed to ride the winds of change that post-modernity blows? Our present ruminations tell us that we can still make use of the modernist stress on structure and organization. Under the Post-Modern stance, such a point need not be construed as non-sensical, since we can always assert that post-modernism still confers value to conditions that remain meaningful for a specific group of people. The hold of meaning, to the say the least, is a condition that even the Post-Modern milieu maintains and lives by.7 Thus, to make amends with these two seemingly conflicting positions, we have decided to begin with a classification system that has tried to organize the different faces of Filipino philosophy. This is a stance that comes from an individual who has undergone a classical training in philosophy Gripaldo's. After which, we shall try to be postmodern by looking into the strengths and weaknesses of each classificatory label in the hope that we can introduce a fourth category the social scientist-philosopher approach.

Significance of the Classification


The reason for choosing Gripaldo's classificatory style is conditioned by the logic and comprehensiveness with which his distinction provides on the differences between traditional philosophy and a philosophy construed from the cultural lens. This difference, as we shall later argue, provides an entry point in raising these other two questions that are interrelated to the question on the meaning of philosophy in a Filipino Philosophy: When does a position/statement participate as a species in the traditionalphilosophical genus?, When does a social science/cultural construction become philosophical? Why do we need to face and own such questions? To make the significance of the foregoing questions understood, let us look into the questions' two-fold assumptions. One presupposition of the two queries is that not all statements can be considered philosophical. If such is not the case, then there might be no need to write a paper on philosophy, since anything can be a member of its fold. Philosophy will be reduced to pure sameness or difference which does not really help in our attempt to better understand its claims. One might be tempted to let go of classifications, but it may all

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

lead to non-sensical confusion. As a consequence of this presupposition, there is a need to identify the conditions that allow us to say that a stance can be considered philosophical. Thus, when we say that a position is a species of the genus Filipino Philosophy, we have clarified the meaning of the term philosophy in such a category. The other assumption is that not all social science facts can join the bandwagon of philosophy. For a socially construed fact to be philosophical, the article proposes that it must traverse these three stages of abstraction establish the sufficiency of the issue, tease out concepts, and ruminate on the possible universal and logical nature of such concepts. This is a line of thinking that we shall try to elucidate and defend as we discuss the transition from social science facts to philosophical ideas.

Approaches to Filipino Philosophy


Using Gripaldos ruminations, the concept of a Filipino Philosophy can be demarcated in three ways: Citizenship, Traditional, and Cultural. Let us look into the meaning of these labels.

Citizenship Approach and Filipino Philosophy


The National category, Gripaldo holds, refers to any philosophical stance done by a Filipino. As a Filipino citizen, his philosophical contributions can already be considered part and parcel of the Filipino Philosophy concept.The question as to whether or not the proposed perspective reflects the culture or life ways of Filipinos is not the main concern. It may be the case that their positions will eventually reveal the life-world of certain communities but such an outcome is not a priority. Consequently, this category has the propensity to beef up every Filipino's capacity to contribute to the archeology of a Filipino philosophy. This is because any interested Filipino is empowered, invited and encouraged to philosophically reflect on the uniqueness of their thinking ways. Our rumination on the nature of the aforementioned category, however, prompts us to question and challenge its main effect to automatically classify a contribution made by a Filipino philosophical. This seems to be anti-thetical to what philosophy stands for. In this respect, we propose that there should be an inch of hesitation in considering citizenship as a sufficient condition of philosophizing. Logically, citizenship and philosophizing are unrelated terms. It is true that the citizen category allows for greater participation amongst Filipinos in construing a Filipino Philosophy. However, the question as to whether or not a stance is philosophical must not be discussed within the purview of citizenship. The question on the nature and meaning of philosophy deserves a different platform. We can even propose that the meaning of philosophy should act or function as a conceptual filter of contributions made by Filipinos. Until Filipino thinkers have decided on what to include and exclude in the term philosophy, the question as to margins.

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

What is Philosophy? This is one question which can help us provide a philosophical foundation to a Filipino Philosophy. The foregoing challenge is a task that we have initially tried to address when we presented in a published article a philosophic treatment of thinking. What is thinking? is the classical question that we tried to own in the article. In our initial analysis, we proposed that thinking is to be regarded as an interplay of these three species: Regressive (Philosophic), Progressive (Scientific) and Digressive (Artistic). This discourse on thinking may be regarded as a possible start in our attempt to contribute a philosophical ground to Filipino Philosophy. We have owned the question and continued in our attempt to substantiate philosophy's meaning. With the proposed categories, we hope to provide a separate article for each thinking species. In so doing, we can deepen our reflection on the possible nodal points on what it means to think. And with the initial reflection on thinking, we have proposed a conceptual filter that can be used in assessing whether or not a contribution in Filipino Philosophy is philosophical. This is a big change from the usual habit of using the conceptual frameworks and theories of known non-Filipino thinkers, and of not attempting to substantiate the conceptual categories that we discover. As Gripaldo notes, It is best not to stop at just being a scholar, but to become a philosopher himself or herself. This stress on the philosophic side, however, means that we have only filled up one side of the coin. The other side still needs some serious reflection and attention. Thus, the possible controversy that rests with our initial contribution is its weakness in confronting the demand carried in the term Filipino in a Filipino Philosophy. Is it enough to say that a position is philosophic? Is it also Filipino? The latter question is another aspect that the Citizenship Category must also be willing to look into.

The Traditionalist and Filipino Philosophy


The traditional category, Gripaldo opines, refers to students of philosophy who have inherited philosophical problems from the thinkers they have decided to specialize in. He notes that the main constraint for this kind of philosophical training is the influence of the studied philosopher's concepts on the biases of the student. In our reflection, this source of worry is grounded, since a classical training in philosophy usually involves these three levels: (1) Given the long years of studying Kant, for example, the consciousness of the student is eventually formed by Kants philosophical positions. In our experience o f this classical training in the study of philosophy, the first five years of research are

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

usually devoted to comprehension and reconstruction of the thoughts and principles of Kant. In the process, the expectation is to master how Kant developed his ideas and elucidate the claims of his arguments. With this training, we can easily say that the worry of Gripaldo is justified. Can the student get out of the shadows and caves made and carved by Kants positions? (2) Moreover, the scholars of Kant have different interpretations. There are conflicting camps and traditions. For example, if one reads Kant by first going through the Critique of Pure Reason, followed by the Critique of Practical Reason and the Critique of Judgment, Kants philosophy will appear hig hly rigid and formalistic. But if Kant is read starting with the Critique of Judgment and followed by the other two books, his philosophy will appear more attuned to the elements of surprise and uncertainty. With these two divergent approaches to Kant's philosophy, a student who attempts to specialize in Kant has to anticipate such a complexity. This context simply furthers the initial worry Can the student escape Kant's philosophic biases and propositions? (3) But after zooming into Kant's philosophy, the next challenge is to be originary to distinguish a position which is different from Kant's. Is this possible? Usually, this separation and eventual autonomy takes years of painstaking work. The initial step normally includes the discovery of some cracks and holes. When this phase begins, the student of Kant changes his intellectual gears. From an expert of thought reconstruction, he morphs into a critical student eager to magnify where Kant's philosophy possibly failed. A mistake or error in Kant's seemingly flawless system is a prized possession.

Social Science and Filipino Philosophy


The social science approach is a route that has greatly influenced current discussions on Filipino philosophy. In the present list of Filipino Thinkers, many of them are social scientists who have made studies in various parts of the Philippines. For Gripaldo, this approach, as an activity, is extractive in nature. He mentions Leonardo Mercado (1974,1994), Florentino Timbreza (1982), Virgilio Enriquez (1988) and F. Landa Jocano (1997) as examples of Filipino writers who apply the cultural approach in the construction of a Filipino Philosophy. 26 Since the cultural approach makes use of the social sciences, their researches have disposed them to meet and reflect on the different aspects in the life-ways of Filipinos. These experiences have fueled their confidence to construct various images of the Filipino. If the question on the meaning of the concept Filipino is raised, they invoke and tap the particular encounters gained in the course of their immersion and the concepts they brewed and discovered in the process of rumination.

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

Today, the unfolding of various particular truths is a cherished approach in the production of knowledge. This is probably the reason why many social scientists have punctuated the need to have a thick description of the life-ways of various Filipino communities. Such descriptions are esteemed since they do not only depict communal activities. The narratives, symbols and meanings that regulate the life of certain groups of people are also saved from possible extinction. Since this is the process of reasoning that many social scientists follow, it can be logically expected that they will have this demand - the concept of a Filipino philosophy has to be in continuum with the life-world of the Filipino people. The growing presence of social scientists in the discussions on philosophy is also confirmed by the number of known social-scientist/philosophers in the post-modern scene.28 This is a big contrast to the dominance of mathematician/philosophers in modernity.29 If in modern times the thinkers moved from mathematics to philosophy, today, some social scientists move from their respective fields to philosophy. This unique phenomenon simply solidifies humanitys current love affair with the content that particulars can offer.

The difficulty, however, with the cultural approach is the transition from descriptive to normative valuations. This is a point that Gripaldo has explored when he mentions the difference between descriptive analysis and philosophical analysis. Gripaldo, The Making of a Filipino Philosopher,. Whereas the former is engaged in piecemeal analysis, the latter's concern for the 'ought' discourse must be zoomed into and not abandoned. In a later section of this article, we shall take up this point of Gripaldo and deepen it in our discussion on the interplay between the particular and universal. Although Gripaldo mentions the need for the holistic eye, we felt that there is a further need to substantiate the kind of interface between the particular and the universal which the social-scientist-philosopher's gaze can look upon.

Filipino Thinkers: In Broad Strokes


In Mindanao, for instance, many of the proponents of Filipino philosophy are at the same time social scientists. We have Alejo 32 and Gaspar.33 These thinkers have been immersed and exposed to the rudiments of social science and have been at the forefront in the discussions on issues of Mindanao. Hence, if one proceeds in the discourse on the possibility of a Mindanaon philosophy, the mentioned thinkers can be consulted. Their immersion and passion to be with the communities in Mindanao are telling of the wealth of insights that they possess on the life-world of a Mindanaon. In the area of Luzon, one has to include the thinking of Ferriols34 and Salazar.35 The former zooms into the phenomenon of 'Meron,' 'Loob' and Filipino spirituality, while the latter pronounced and specified the conditions of possibility of a 'Pantayong Pananaw'. These concepts are complex and have been seriously ruminated upon. More importantly, their commitment to have a critical gaze at their own positions

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5

tells us that they have tried to carefully substantiate their thoughts. In so doing, they have disposed us to trust the insights and arguments that their works propose. Consequently, the possible criticisms that their positions can provide are worthy of attention, since they have explored a vantage point which we can glean and look into. Hence, their phenomenological reflections on the experiences of Filipinos are grounded, since such interpretations emanate from a ruminated perspective. In Visayas, we have at the forefront the continued strengthening of the collection of Cebuano Literature and History housed in the University of San Carlos. Researchers like Alburo have spearheaded attempts to make an account of narratives and histories of various towns, cities and communities in the province of Cebu. This massive effort to collate and study the particular stories of Cebuanos reminds us of the capacity of local experts to contribute in discussions on the concept of being a Filipino. This is even reinforced with the term Filipino being an identity and referential concept. To whom does it apply? What is its content? These are perennial questions emerging in many identity and referential concepts. However, it might be of help to be reminded of the epistemological assumption when dealing with the concept Filipino either one attempts to know the abstract essence, or one acknowledges that there can never be a Filipino essence. What we can provide are always estimations on what and who a Filipino is. If the latter presupposition is held, we can expect the rise of particular philosophies. But when the former is expected, the production of knowledge will always have problems dealing with the content of universally oriented thoughts.

RACHEL ANNE T. CASTRO

BS ARCHITECTURE 5