If we look at the concept of reality from the broadest perspective and use motion as our frame of reference one thing jumps out at us very soon thereafter. We exist on a planet that is rotating wobbly on its own axis while, at the same time, rotating elliptically around the Sun, while at the same time, both the Sun and Earth are making an elliptical journey through space within our galaxy, The Milky Way, while at the same time our galaxy is adrift through the larger expanse of space in an ill defined universe. That's four separate but distinct non-volitional motions we are caught up in simultaneously while we are also moving about volitionally on the surface of our own world. That is equivalent to four additional separate realities within which we are busy maintaining our individual grips on our sanity. Now that is keeping it real. And, I might add, each of these separate but distinct motions are in different directions...at the same time.

Unfortunately this, and numerous additional examples, demonstrate a wide disparity between our perceived reality from the way our actual reality looks and works. Even within the scientific community there exists a wide disparity as evidenced in the many disciplines and sub-disciplines, each focused on its own unique aspect of that greater universal reality within which we all live.

What appears to be missing is a unifying narrative capable of weaving together all the many theories across all disciplines into a single coherent and robust description of what we know the most about reality as our scientific method has revealed to date. A narrative that brings out the genuine "Real" of reality from the quantum to the farthest reaches of our known universe. A narrative that does so in a language such that even the most illiterate among us can relate.

This is not to be construed as an attack on philosophy. If anything this is a humble iteration of the power of philosophy proper in its unique ability to deliver both the accomplishments and the challenges that our sciences have and have yet to embrace in our quest to continue what appears to be a never ending saga. Is there a gap? Why is there a gap? And on which side of the aisle does it originate?

Take a second look at the first paragraph in this expansion of the question. Can those motions be expressed in math in such a way that they communicate the same breadth and scope of movements in the macros of our reality such that everyone can feel as small as I do when attempting a comprehension of such motion on such a scale? Even if there is included in that everyone many who can barely add and divide?

How, where and when does philosophy step in and bring such awe inspiring relationships between us and our reality together wherein every single one of us can share in that same experience?

  • humility is another fun term. there's no question there, unless you want someone to edit it to be asking about existential philosophy of science
    – user25714
    Jul 26, 2017 at 10:21
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – user25714
    Jul 26, 2017 at 10:35
  • i downvoted, becasue it pushes a personal philosophy, is poorly researched, etc.. also, saying "i'm not attacking philosophy" when you claim it's useless without any clear reason to, is nonsense.
    – user25714
    Jul 26, 2017 at 10:38
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    @John Notwen - Do you have an example of a shift in 'the physical boundaries of reality'? Afaik there has never been one. Philosophy is specifically the investigation of what is real and what is not, and it would not be good practice to uncritically reify the physical world in the way you do. I'd agree that university philosophy has not yet caught up with QM, which you might have had in mind, but that's to do with philosophers, not philosophy as a discipline.
    – user20253
    Jul 26, 2017 at 10:41
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – user2953
    Jul 26, 2017 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


Can philosophy keep pace? What I think philosophy is in crying need of is a retrospective assessment: what have we learned from our work? This undertaking would require a group of experienced philosophers to undertake the task. I do not believe that philosophy is merely about asking interesting questions. I do believe there have been "findings" in philosophy, though many times these findings are in the nature of better or worse: eg this road is a good one to pursue, this one is worse, this one is a dead end, and so on. You would think the sub-field of History of Philosophy would naturally pursue on its own such an inquiry , but as far as I know it has not done so, though it has generated much raw material for such a study. I have read an assessment of the results of analytic philosophy which I thought was pretty good, but I would have to search around in my papers to find the author. So this is one of my interests. I would mention that British philosopher Nicholas Maxwell has something called Wisdom philosophy he's been working on for some time which has some interesting points but I have only read a smattering of it. I think even practicing scientists may be interested in his: From Knowledge to Wisdom: a revolution in the aims and methods of science. (1984), B. Blackwell, pub. Should be available in the larger libraries.


The answer to your question is "they came up with science"!

Classic philosophical questions include (but are not exclusive to) the following:

  • What is the fundamental nature of consciousness?
  • What is the fundamental nature of the universe?
  • What is the reason of my individual existence?
  • What is the reason of our existence as a species?
  • How can we achieve individual happiness?
  • How can we achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people?
  • Why is there life?
  • Why is there anything at all?

Each of these questions lies within the realm of as least one scientific field. Some of these questions can be addressed by neuroscience. Others need to be addressed by biology, physics, mathematics, ...

I would therefore argue that philosophy has been rendered obselete by the scientific method as a way to answer these questions. I would argue that there is no single scientific field that can completely replace philosophy, but science as a whole can replace it and IMO should replace it.

So, what about ethics, you may say?! Well, science both teaches us a lot about how our actions influence our happiness and stability. Herein, neuropsychology typically focuses on individual behavior, whereas sociology focuses on the collective components components and biology focuses on genetic components of our behavior.

Combined, neuropsychology, sociology and biology give a rather complete picture of human behavior and human consciousness. It allows us to model human nature in a consistent way, which in turn allows us to develop a rational moral foundation based this model.

Adding to that, mathematical studies like game theory can help us determine the impact of our actions and assess that impact with greater clarity.

So if you want to "keep it real", just stick with science!

  • I definitely acquired the data from the scientific community and not the philosophic community. However, and I am impressed with your response, it is spot on, however I am a philosopher at heart, (well, somewhat), so I would only add that science, without a mechanism of bringing it's produce to the market of everyday common folks, is lacking and I am hoping through philosophy to find a methodology capable of reaching beneath the surface of the techniques required to gather so much data; even if it necessitates a different field of philosophical exploration. Make any sense here? Jul 26, 2017 at 12:26
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – user2953
    Jul 26, 2017 at 20:42

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