Christopher asked:

Do you think that there will come a day when philosophy will no longer exist? Many of the questions/ problems that philosophy attempts to answer/ resolve have been asked for centuries and I’m guessing that some of those questions have no real definite answer and have been looked at from every possible side. Also, the world is only so big, therefore, eventually won’t we know everything there is to know about everything? Hypothetical questions may always exist, but how much room is there in that for philosophy?

Answer by Shaun Williamson

No there will never come a day when philosophy no longer exists. There will never be a day when we know everything about everything. The world is very big, much bigger than you seem to think.

Now you say ‘I’m guessing that…’ and this is just the problem. I don’t want to guess, I want to know the truth and if there are no answers to philosophical problems then I want to know precisely why there are no answers to philosophical problems. For some of us guessing just isn’t good enough.


Answer by Geoffrey Klempner

I remember once hearing from a fellow graduate student while I was at Oxford in the late 70s that David Wiggins (who later went on to become Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford from 1993 to 2000) had expressed the view that philosophy was in its last stages, and that in the foreseeable future the rigorous methods of logic would solve all the major problems of philosophy.

There are not a few philosophers around today who believe that proposition. It is at least believable, given that a philosopher as eminent as the young Wittgenstein in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus held something like this view — although, arguably, in his case there remained the ‘mystical’, or that concerning which nothing can be said (all that can be said are the ‘propositions of natural science’).

Without doubt, logic has risen to giddying heights since the revolution brought about by Frege, Wittgenstein and Russell. Problems have been solved, or at least rendered with a clarity that previous generations had never dreamed of. But is philosophy nearly over?

I leave aside not altogether dissimilar views expressed by philosophers from the continental tradition. Someone better qualified than I can answer that.

The answer to your question is I don’t know. If philosophy is nearly over, however, then whatever comes next will still have a plate full of unanswered questions. What methods we might use to solve these problems, if they are not the methods of logic, is beyond me. Or maybe ‘logic’ will become something totally different too, something we can barely conceive or imagine at the present time.