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From Daily Life to Philosophy

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This article argues that the little everyday things of life often provide excellent entries into the intellectual problems of academic philosophy. This is illustrated with an analysis of four small stories taken from daily life in which people are in agony because they do not know what to do. It is argued that the crucial question in these stories is a philosophical question—not a closed request for empirical or formal information but an open question about how best to conceive of human experience. A discussion follows of the merits and shortcomings of transcendentalism as an attempt by philosophers to make progress. It is argued that reformulating questions is what philosophers can do to contribute to people's comfort in life. This is illustrated with an argument showing that in the small stories discussed the question of what to do should be reformulated as the question of who to be.

Keywords: flow of life; moral philosophy; philosophical questions; practical philosophy; transcendental arguments

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9973.2004.00334.x

Affiliations: Faculty of Social Science, Institute of Philosophy and History of Education, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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