If one needs to point to a central issue in philosophy, if one needs to use just one word to say what philosophy is about, it has to be – comprehension. As, if one removes comprehension, the philosophical questions and philosophical answers, philosophical discussions and everything philosophical looses sense… The questions make sense just if comprehended, the answers are good only if comprehended, the philosophical method or inquiry also need to be understood and comprehended. (BTW, the way I use “comprehend” here is roughly synonymous with “understand”. No fancy theoretical accounts or meanings.)
The comprehension is important on two levels. First the comprehension of Other, comprehension of what are people, asking, saying or wondering. But that comprehension is seen just as a way to the overall-comprehension, some ideal of comprehending everything that needs to be comprehended by philosophy.
Having put the central issue of philosophy as comprehension, we can put limits on what philosophy can allow, and what should be marked as inappropriate to it.
As one, for something to be comprehended, it must be brought clearly in front of the awareness. In such way philosophy is intimately bounded to consciousness and to awareness, and to the issue of what we can be aware of.
Because of this, I think critical stance towards our mental powers of awareness is needed, questions like ‘what are types of things we can be aware of?’, ‘how do we become aware of things?’ need to be asked. Those issues should be first explored, so that we are sure that the tower which is built has stable basis.
I’m repeating I think the words of Kant, who was saying that the powers of the mind has to be critically assessed before any metaphysics is built, but in my own opinion Kant failed to be critical enough. He took the terms such as “mind”, “objects”, “reality” in their common-sense usage in the society in which he was raised, and worked with them, without getting into inquiry into what he means by those words.
Or to put it another away, so it connects to the start of this post, one must get to this question…
-What is that which I’m aware of, and to which those words I use relate?
That is the stance the philosophy must make. I have to become aware of what each of the words I use (to speak about philosophy) refers to, and there has to be this possibility of comprehension, as otherwise (if the meanings of the words are something which can’t be comprehended), the proper critique of the grounds of philosophy can’t be made. Even if what one says ostensibly makes sense, if such critique is not done first, the sense will be there limited by the society, in which one is born, or by the paradigm through which one have learned things.
Does this mean that we should avoid the words as they are connected to the paradigms/society? No! Philosophers can’t accept that. If one takes the meanings of the words to be based in the unconscious otherness, one gives up the philosophical work from very start.
We must assume that what the words relate to, what the words mean, is accessible to the consciousness, and even if the meaning is connected to the society or paradigm, it is the work of the philosopher to comprehend those meanings as such.
Such philosophy, as a comprehension, is in that way possible only under such conditions. Not accepting those conditions is not philosophy, it is giving up.