Cracow, Poland

Faculty of Philosophy

Wydział Filozoficzny

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Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570–495 BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust (if one can get away with it)? Do humans have free will?
Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (1912).
The realist, then, would seek in behalf of philosophy the same renunciation the same rigour of procedure, that has been achieved in science. This does not mean that he would reduce philosophy to natural or physical science. He recognizes that the philosopher has undertaken certain peculiar problems, and that he must apply himself to these, with whatever method he may find it necessary to employ. It remains the business of the philosopher to attempt a wide synoptic survey of the world, to raise underlying and ulterior questions, and in particular to examine the cognitive and moral processes. And it is quite true that for the present no technique at all comparable with that of the exact sciences is to be expected. But where such technique is attainable, as for example in symbolic logic, the realist welcomes it. And for the rest he limits himself to a more modest aspiration. He hopes that philosophers may come like scientists to speak a common language, to formulate common problems and to appeal to a common realm of fact for their resolution. Above all he desires to get rid of the philosophical monologue, and of the lyric and impressionistic mode of philosophizing. And in all this he is prompted not by the will to destroy but by the hope that philosophy is a kind of knowledge, and neither a song nor a prayer nor a dream. He proposes, therefore, to rely less on inspiration and more on observation and analysis. He conceives his function to be in the last analysis the same as that of the scientist. There is a world out yonder more or less shrouded in darkness, and it is important, if possible, to light it up. But instead of, like the scientist, focussing the mind's rays and throwing this or that portion of the world into brilliant relief, he attempts to bring to light the outlines and contour of the whole, realizing too well that in diffusing so widely what little light he has, he will provide only a very dim illumination.
Ralph Barton Perry, The Present Conflict of Ideals: A Study of the Philosophical Background of the World War (1918)
Pretend what we may, the whole man within us is at work when we form our philosophical opinions. Intellect, will, taste, and passion co-operate just as they do in practical affairs; and lucky it is if the passion be not something as petty as a love of personal conquest over the philosopher across the way.
William James, The Sentiment of Rationality (1882).


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