The Fundamental Methods of Philosophizing - Ch. 3 "Evolution of Deductive Theory" by Jose Ortega y Gasset

Chapter 3 - Thinking and Being, or the Heavenly Twins

Chapter three is short, but I think that Gasset makes a very important distinction here which is overlooked. He emphasizes that the way we understand being, what we philosophize about, what we believe, is more fundamentally rooted in how we philosophize. For example, are we beginning with the presumptions of the Empiricists school, or the Rationalist school, or as a Idealist, or as a Methodological Naturalist. Each of them has different parameters by which they even conceive of the possibility of knowing reality. Therefore, only in identifying this method first, can we begin to unpack the differences between philosophies. The failure to do this can lead to equivocations regarding key fundamental terms and concepts when dialoging with others. Though the same word may be used, it may mean two totally different things depending on the underlying method and presumptions used in generating that word. Thus, one can now see why this is so important in today's world. It's useless to argue at the surface level when an argument really needs to be had deep below the water's line at the depths of the iceberg. 

A New Mode of Encountering Being
Gasset beings chapter three by making the claim that philosophy is a particular way of the human person engaging with the Being of the universe. To discover a new philosophy, is at the same time to discover a new way of interacting with reality, a "new intellectual method." Method, here, is not used in the sense of just honing an already discovered mode of thinking, but rather to discover something qualitatively new. "A new idea of thinking is the discovery of a way of thinking radically different from those previously known, although it retains this or that part which it has in common with them. It is therefore equivalent to the discovery of a new 'faculty' in mankind, and it is to understand by 'thinking' a reality different from any previously known." And so differing philosophies are primarily a difference in mode of knowing, a difference in the grammar of philosophy, rather than in the specific contents of it. 1

Whatever mode of thinking a particular philosophy employs is ipso facto going to influence their conception of what Being is. This is important to discern in the study of philosophy. What is there mode of pursuit into the "problem of the Universe"? Some will tell you explicitly their method, while others it is implied in their work, though it is not a good sign if a consistent method is not even discernable implicitly. "... in order to understand a system of philosophy we must start by setting aside its dogmas and by trying to discover as precisely as possible just what that philosophy understands by 'thinking,' or to put it in terms of the vernacular, we have to find out 'what they are up to' in that philosophy." 

For Leibnitz, who is one of the main focuses of this book, Gasset summarizes his method as, "to think it to prove." This is a phrase that he will continue to unpack at time goes on in the book. [It seems as though this phrase means that to philosophize to "think" in the highest Aristotelian sense, that is strict "scientific" demonstration, or in other words, to use universal and first principles to uncover truths implicit in things by necessity.]
1 - Ortega y Gasset, Jose. The Idea of Principle in Leibnitz and the Evolution of Deductive Theory. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1971). 20
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