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Ferdinand Fellmann

Professor of Philosophy

Philosophy of Life as science of reflection

German Version

1. Philosophy, once known as the “great mother of the sciences,” has lost its former position. Instead of leading the way of the sciences, it merely accompanies empirical research. This has obviously led to a loss of prestige, which has shaken the self-esteem of philosophers.

2. Despite all difficulties, philosophy maintains its position in the universities. Among the sciences, however, it is exceptional. This is manifest in the kind of questions taken up by philosophy.

3. The sciences have developed specific methods for answering their questions. In the technical sciences, there are experiments, and in the social sciences there are surveys, etc. The logic of empirical research is the object of scientific theory.

4. The kind of questions that philosophy deals with can be characterized as questions concerning the meaning of life. They are in principle unanswerable, and do not disappear for this very reason. All attempts to disqualify these questions as meaningless misjudge human nature, in which the question concerning the meaning of life is innate. The human is the creature whose existence depends on his consciousness. And our consciousness does not rest until it has found answers to the most difficult questions.

5. The method available to philosophy to process this question is reflection. Unlike the empirical sciences, philosophers do not have a laboratory at their disposal for their reflection; they must rely entirely on their own mind. This of course does not deny the importance of references to the history of philosophy.

6. Philosophy cannot rely on intuitive sources of knowledge. Its relation to new findings and scientific methods remains absolutely necessary. Metaphysics holds that there is a realm of being that can be revealed through the construction of world systems. If this precondition is lacking, philosophy is only the interpretation of the realities in which we live. In this way, the philosophy of life takes over the position of traditional metaphysics.

7. From this concept of philosophy the following can be stated: The question “What does it all mean?” can be answered without faith in the last reason of being. Even an atheist, who does not believe in a creator God, as well as a realist who holds on to what actually is, can use philosophy as an instrument of reflection to gain a foothold on his self-understanding. Human self-understanding and an understanding of the world belong together. Wherever it is possible to look behind the world of appearances reason finds its limits, beyond which the realm of faith begins, which is the responsibility of religion and theology. The philosophy of life works wholly within these limits.