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The Rambler’s Guide to Philosophy

After the highways of Mike Fuller’s The Map of Philosophy, here are some byways you might wish you hadn’t strayed into… By Peter Mottley.

As a general introduction to the various branches of philosophy, Mike Fuller’s ‘The Map of Philosophy’ in Philosophy Now Issue 13 was brilliantly simple and to the point. But, of course, in the real world, things aren’t as clear-cut as that – especially when philosophy and philosophers are concerned. Areas overlap, boundaries become blurred, miniroundabouts shoot you off in the wrong direction. After the highways of Mike Fuller’s The Map of Philosophy, here are some byways you might wish you hadn’t strayed into………

Is beauty truth?
Is truth beauty?
Is it all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know?

Epistemo-ethics What should I know?
Why should I know it?
Am I free to know it?
Is this branch of philosophy also known as Politics?

Can metaphysics be proved logically to exist?
Does believing in reality constitute a paradox?

Is there a purpose to ugliness?
Is there an ‘ultimate ugliness’?
If so, should I paint it?
Has Francis Bacon already painted it?
Is the ‘Good Life’ art, or simply a 70s sitcom?

Political Epistemology
Do any forms of society relate to reality – or only to appearances?
Can truth and knowledge have anything to do with politics?

Political Aesthetics
Is the art of politics related to truth, reality, morality and meaning?
Is this branch of philosophy also known as Fantasy Fiction?

The following is the sort of philosophical map that might get scribbled on the back of a fag-packet, or an envelope, or an unwanted copy of Schopenhauer’s Best After Dinner Jokes; the sort of route instructions that usually start “Well, if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here in the first place…”

The Psychology of Politics
Is it true that anyone who wishes to become a politician is displaying the sort of character flaw that should debar him or her from office?
Are all politicians solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short?

Psycho-political Linguistics
Has the mind anything to do with the language politicians use?

Aesthetic Casuistry
How can I relate the principles of pure ethics to judge good and bad art?
How can I relate the principles of modern art to any form of aesthetics?

Ethical Politics
(NB This branch of philosophy is actually a subsection of three other branches: Ontology, since no one has ever proved it to have any relation to reality; Logic, where it is frequently used to demonstrate an invalid hypothesis; and the Philosophy of Language, where it is used as an example of linguistic form without meaning.)

Are philosophers real or only apparently real?
Do they know what they fancy they feel?
Do they fancy they feel what they know?
Do they feel everyone they know they fancy?

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