I can only offer my contrarian view, that which a trite, banal account (like most others here) would deny you of considering.
Those who would hold that philosophy is a discovery, suffer from a naive egalitarian's dream come true. Simultaneously to this delusion, those who hail from such a misguided way of thinking contradict their own premise by making conflicting statements. On one hand, they say, the Greeks had an idea for a way of thinking which would lead to philosophy...WHEN NO OTHER CIVILIZATIONS HAD THIS LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING, HUH...and on the other hand it was just an accident! Whooo!!!
Obviously, (according to this cabal) The Ancient Greeks just stumbled on it, and everybody else in the world was totally stupid because it was as plain as the nose on their faces, right? This is what those who claim philosophy was a discovery would have you believe. Talk about living in denial! Ain't no cheated on housewife got nuthin' on that canon of thought.
Imagine, for a moment, being transported back in time to ancient Greece, prior to the advent of philosophy. The caveate is that you can't take your understanding back with you. Philosophy DOESN'T exist yet. You are bound by a particular way of thinking. It's a way of thinking you can't even comprehend because your current mind has been modified by philosophy. Imagine being one with all that you know? Imagine being one with the gods? Imagine how magnificent this way of life would be, and tragically myopic at the same time.
Philosophy is not the end of this prospective world view. In fact, this primitive world view still lives heartily within the vast majority of us. It is beyond vestigal because it has not been overcome by the ultimate cerebral solution for understanding. Philosophy hasn't done it. Mankind has not yet devised something of that magnitude.
For now, though, we thankfully have philosophy. It's a window through the old world, the natural obsolete condition of mankind. Philosophy is not, consequently, a complete solution, it's just one potential idea for considering and dealing with that which surrounds us.
For this reason, it's more of an invention than a discovery. It's an invention I thank God for everyday (he he). But seriously, if it's just a discovery, there should be many more like it laying around, just waiting to be stumbled upon and discovered by the likes of Mountain Dweller. Much work must still be done to conquer the beast of mysticism. C'mon, Mountain Dweller, pick up those kernals of wisdom and expand the collective horizon of mankind.
Apparently, some here need more than a motivational impetus to see what IS. Here is a less inspirational, but more scholastic presentation for why philosophy was an invention rather than a mere discovery...
According to Leo Strauss, the beginning of Western philosophy involved the “DISCOVERY OR INVENTION of nature” and the “pre-philosophical equivalent of nature” was supplied by “such notions as ‘custom’ or ‘ways’”.
Now, based upon the above statement by Leo Strauss, I would like to thank Mountain Dweller for laying the historical groundwork for that which led to the Greek invention of philosophy. I would also like to impart what is likely a deeper understanding of the Straussian position than any other here has yet to apprehend. Additionally, I would like to offer a disclaimer that my theory is not based upon any direct relation to the Straussian via an intimate familiarity with his works, but rather is likely the kinship involved with arriving at the same conclusion from divergent methods.
The relevant definitions for the terminology in question should be established prior to engaging any further in debate upon this issue. Below are the, in my estimation, best possible definitions for the discussion at hand:
DISCOVER: To disclose; to lay open to view; to make visible; to reveal; to make known; to show (what has been secret, unseen, or unknown).
INVENT: To produce (as something useful) for the first time through the use of the imagination or of ingenious thinking and experiment
As I stated above, and giving credit where credit is due, let us assume, for the moment that the Greek manifestation of the lexoconical & concomitant conceptual of “NATURE” can be relegated to the category of discovery. Let us set aside the possibility, as articulated by Srauss, that the term & concept NATURE was in and of itself an invention. Now, based upon the Dwellerian position, NATURE is then a discovery advanced by the Greeks. The issue arises when we attempt to go from the especiality of that terminology...and then advancing to the realm of philosophy. Understanding how to utilize the terminology of “nature” does not a philosopher make! Cerebral manifestation of philosophy merely “involved” (but was not even based upon)the apprehension (re. discovery or invention) of nature, you see.
In fact, if I were a comedian in those ancient days, my routine would likely have involved props, a plate and a toilet. As I waxed forth clumsily extolling my philosophical prowess because I new so keenly the difference in "nature" between the two, I would hopefully get laughs from more than just the philosophical in the crowd.
No, far more was involved than just an understanding of nature. If that alone represented a discovery which was on the verge of invention, then surely the differentiation required to become philosophical crosses over into the realm of invention. The Greeks innovated an entirely new method for conceptualization: Differentiation from nature and from God. This is what lies at the root of philosophy, not just nature per se.
1. “Progress or Return” in An Introduction to Political Philosophy: Ten Essays by Leo Strauss. (Expanded version of Political Philosophy: Six Essays by Leo Strauss, 1975.) Ed. Hilail Gilden. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1989.
I believe that a good case has been made above that the Greek creation and use of the term "nature" gives them credit for having invented (rather than discovered) that term. In fact, I could even develop this argument around mathmatics to show that mathmatics at its core is even an invention. Therefore, some questions:
Which are inventions and which are discoveries (and why):
I won't make the argument that mathmatics is an invention because the case, while worth arguing, is, I believe, not strong enough.
With regard to Nature, Philosophy and now language, I believe that I am on firm ground in the assertion that these are inventions.
From Nature, we advance to philosophy. Here's what this means in terms of how mankind significantly elevated his understanding in ancient times:
The concept of nature allowed The Greeks to isolate particulars from the larger whole. This allowed for a higher level of understanding about that particular 'particular'. Philosophy is taking it to the next level. Philosophy is going from isolation to differentiation, and using this method to differentiate ourselves from the larger whole in order to glean a deeper understanding of the larger whole as well as ourselves as seperate entities from it.
There is no question that Philosophy is an invention (It is similar to language in this way). The subsequent discoveries which were made due to philosophy are discoveries, of course. But the method is artificial, an artifice (again similar to language), if you will. This is why I prefer to use the term invention. It better allows for one to grasp the underlying issues involved, and what philosophy really is, or at least what it was in the beginning.
"Love of Wisdom" is what Philosophy is called, but what does that mean, really?
The Greeks named it so long ago, so why did Pythagoras call it that? The love of knowledge is what underlies the artificial isolations, seperations and differentiations used to reach a higher level of understanding. The wisdom is in knowing that you just did that, and that the world isn't really the way you just conceived of it in order to understand it better.
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