Monday, 1 October 2012
In a recent TV program, Stephen Hawking said that philosophy is dead and has been replaced by science. Given the astonishing discoveries in recent science you can see what he means - some of the staple questions in philosophy like the mind/body question look entirely different given what science has been saying. Hawking's philosophical outlook has inevitably been shaped by his scientific background which has made him focus on the construction of an infinite universe from atomic particles - which translates philosophically into a form of materialism so that, when he comes to translate this into what the meaning of life might be, he's clearly faced with the premise that human meaning is largely irrelevant. Struggling against that obvious conclusion he decided to say that life does have meaning and that it arises from how individuals impose meaning in their own lives. This is banal at best and demonstrates that ignorance of philosophy is likely to lead you, when you're forced to philosophise, into reiterating philosophical cliches. His line was little better than 'life is what you make it' or, less colloquially, a crude version of existentialism.