The is not the question that can be answered with something like "Philosophy is a disease of language"--that would be "What goes wrong in philosophy?", just as one might say "What goes wrong in asthma?" "It's a disease of the lungs"--this is the question "How does it happen?".
Why would we ask this question?
It seems to me that too much philosophy is instigated simply by other people doing philosophy. This makes me ask for the first cause, for in Homer's time nobody did philosophy as we see it later. Questions posed were answered.
Austin suggests: incorrigibility. Kant: the unconditioned. And this fits with Socrates against the sophists--that is, there is an individually realizable cause for a sophist questioning (say) morality, claiming that there is no unconditioned moral good. And then there is an imperative to defend against it. This is philosophy as a sort of overactive immune system. Compare skepticism (overreaction to dangerous belief, rather than to dangerous disbelief), creduelity and weak-mindedness (intellectual AIDS), science (is/is not a healthy relation to belief).
Also consider Philosophy's birth as natural philosophy. Purposeful inquiries degraded by a series of mistakes?
Summary: In a painfully Wittgensteinian moment, the author attempts to discern just how we got into this mess in the first place.
Keywords: philosophy, Wittgenstein, disease
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Heracleitus, et al., Pre-socratic fragments
Created: 19 July 1999, 1:30pm
Modified: 29 June 2000