There used to just be Philosophy, which was inquiry and thinking, trying to figure things out. From it sprang the family of learning:
From Natural Philosophy was born Science and Physics.
From Logic was born first Mathematics, and later Computer Science.
From Ethics, Politics and perhaps Economics.
But Philosophy itself remains, its current areas of study not yet broken off under a new label. What makes these fields different?
Philosophy continues to hold under its umbrella fields such as Epistemology, Ethics, Existentialism and Metaphysics.
I was starting to think these might be different because they all begin with an E but then I saw that this was not true of all of them, and anyway, what about Epidemiology? It must be something else.
It seems that branches of Philosophy successfully escape the wanker-tree once thinkers in the field actually make some progress or achieve real-world outcomes. The most obvious example is that of computer programmers – Boolean logic immediately left Philosophy as soon as a practical application was found for it. So too Science, once the Natural Philosophers actually started curing diseases and making things fly.
The ones that are left remain useless and stagnant. Ethics is bunkum. Epistemology – the study of what we can know – is important but in a quagmire because all we know for sure is that we don’t know shit. We have evidence, but we don’t even know how to assess that evidence for sure. The richest recent research in Epistemology and Metaphysics is that which suggests the universe might not even be real. It might be a computer simulation. If Philosophers ever figure out some practical good in this area they’ll immediately be promoted to Computer Scientists or something like that.
Philosophy is the systematic pondering of stuff we know nothing about. It may not be a complete waste of time because every now and then we have a win – we just stop calling it Philosophy when we do.